From Jonathan Pollak of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee in Bil’in:
Hundreds of protesters led by a bulldozer marched on the Wall in Bil’in today after the Israeli army began dismantling it earlier this week.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli member of Knesset Mohammed Barakah participated in the demonstration. Israeli soldiers open fire at a Palestinian protester driving a bulldozer at the site of the Wall in Bil’in today, shattering one of the vehicle’s windows and pancturing two of its tires.
At the time of the shooting, the bulldozer was dismantling the gate in the section of the Wall that is being relocated by the army these days.
The 500 protesters, among them Fayyad and Israeli MK Barakah, marched from the village’s mosque towards the Wall. On arrival to the gate, and as the bulldozer advanced at the gate, the protesters were attacked with rubber-coated bullets, tear-gas and foul-smelling water shot by a water-cannon. Two people were lightly injured.
At a demonstration in the village of Nabi Saleh, also today, the army attacked a group of children dressed as clown who were running kites inside the village. In Deir Qaddis, the Nili settlement’s security guard shot live fire at protesters who flew the Palestinian flag from one of the houses being built in the new neighborhood of the settlement.
Background: The Bil’in Popular Committee declared today as the last day of the old path of the Barrier on village’s lands, and the beginning of the struggle against the new path. On Tuesday morning this week, army bulldozers began work to dismantle the Wall in Bil’in. As early as 2007, after two years of weekly protests in the village and following a petition filed by the residents, Israeli high court declared the path of the Barrier illegal. The court ruled that the route was not devised according to security standards, but rather for the purpose of settlement expansion. Despite the high court’s ruling four more years of struggle had to elapse for the army to begin dismantlement.
During these years two people were killed in the course of the weekly protests and many others injured. Yet even according to the new path, sanctioned by the high court, 435 acres of village land will remain on the “Israeli” side of the Barrier. On September 4th, 2007, the high court ordered the state to come up with an alternative path for the existing Barrier in Bil’in within a reasonable period of time. Despite the ruling, many months elapsed and no new plan was offered.
On the May 29th, 2008, the residents of Bil’in filed a petition to hold the state in contempt of the court due to this delay. In response to the petition, the state offered an alternative path. However, the plan failed to comply with the high court’s ruling as the proffered path left a large area designed for settlement expansion on the “Israeli” side of the Barrier. The only difference between the two paths being that the latter offered to award 40 acres of land back to the residents. A second petition claiming the alternative path not in accordance with court ruling was then filed.
On August 3rd, 2008, the court declared that the first alternative path indeed fails to adhere to the ruling. The court ordered the state to come up with another alternative path. On September 16th, 2008, the state offered a second alternative path. This path also left a large area designed for settlement expansion on the “Israeli” side, offering to return a100 acres of village land to the residents. A lawyer for the residents asked that the state be held in contempt of the court for violating a court ruling for the second time. On December 15th, 2008, the high court ruled that the second alternative path was not in accordance with the original court ruling.
In April 2009 the state offered a third alternative path which left most of the area destined for settlement expansion on the “Palestian” side of the Barrier, thereby returning to the village 150 acres of 490 acres annexed by the original path.