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Bil'in's Non Violent Direct Action

1. Update on Arrestees from April 28th Anti-Wall Demo
2. Friday's Bil'in Anti-Wall Demonstration
3. May Day by Lena

1. Update on Arrestees from April 28th Anti-Wall Demo

During a demonstration on the 28th of April, undercover Israeli provocateurs threw stones at Israeli soldiers. The provocateurs were exposed by the Palestinian organizers of this non-violent demonstration who approached them and told them to stop throwing stones. The provocateurs then took out their weapons and grabbed Riad Mohamad Yassin and Alian Ibrahim Abu Rachme from the peaceful crowd. Initially The military prosecutor wanted to charge one of them with attempted murder, apparently because an undercover Israeli special forces agent fell and hurt his head. Human rights Attorney Tamar Peleg managed to get the charges reduced to assault.

On Friday Raid and Alian where brought to court and an agreement was reached between their attorney and the prosecution that if charges are not pressed by Sunday they would be released.

Tonight and Sunday morning (Palestinian time) is your last chance to fax and phone the fallowing numbers on their behalf!
The head military prosecutor's phone no. is 03-5692911
His fax no. is 03-5694370

2. Friday's Bil'in Anti-Wall Demonstration
May 6, 2005

Bil'in, Ramallah, West Bank

Ten Israeli non-violent peace activists were gassed, arrested, and severely beaten with batons by Israeli soldiers today at an Anti-Wall demonstration in the village of Bil'in west of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Several Palestinian demonstrators were wounded by rubber coated metal bullets. 3 were treated for tear gas inhalation. Arrestee Rabbi Arik Asherman of Rabbis for Human Rights was seen being beaten to the ground after being handcuffed.

Today's demonstrators, including 150 - 200 Palestinians from Bil'in, 70 Israelis from the groups Rabbis for Human Rights, Anarchists Against the Wall, and Gush Shalom, and the International Solidarity Movement, left the village and headed for the path of the Wall being cut through Bil'in's olive fields. They carried signs reading "Stop the Wall", in Arabic, Hebrew, and English.

No construction was occurring today on the site, but Israeli soldiers stood guard. As marchers approached the path of the Wall they were told it was a closed military zone and that the demonstration was illegal. As they continued peacefully walking forward they were met immediately by tear gas being fired on them. Soldiers then attacked demonstrators beating the Israelis with wooden batons and arresting them.

The soldiers continued beating demonstrators even after being handcuffed. Sound grenades and rubber coated steel bullets were also fired at the crowd. Several Palestinians received minor wounds in the head, legs, and stomach. One person was hit in the head with a tear gas canister. Several demonstrators were also treated for gas inhalation.

The 10 arrestees where held by the police at Givat Ze'ev settlement near Jerusalem and were reported to be released in the evening.

The demonstration, organized by village residents against the construction of the annexation Wall through their olive groves, is the most recent action in a very active popular campaign against the Wall. On Wednesday, Palestinians joined by International and Israeli
activists chained themselves to olive trees. 11 were arrested and released.

3. May Day by Lena

May Day in the West Bank, and as a village marches in protest against the wall that will cut them off from over 50% of their land, the digger continues, picking away at the hillside relentlessly.

Bil'ln is one of the places that has protested vigorously against the wall -demonstrations are held here at least once a week, usually twice, and the pattern seems well established. A combination of villagers, internationals and Israeli activists and peace groups march from the mosque in the middle of the village to the destruction site. They are dispersed before they reach it and spend the day getting shot at - usually by tear gas, sound bombs and 'rubber' bullets (which are actually metal coated with a thin layer of rubber). The Palestinians retaliate with their weapons of resistance - stones - and have had ample opportunity to perfect their catapulting skills. I'm telling you, if catapulting was a new Olympic sport they would be certain of the gold.

Last Sunday there were about 150 Palestinians, 8 Israelis, 9 internationals, loads of photographers and a film crew from Al Arabia.

The view on one side of the track leading to the site is beautiful - rolling hillsides of olive trees and farmland with a couple of villages and some scattered houses. On the other side there is a massive quarry supplying, no doubt, materials for the wall and the settlement which is visible next to it. It is one of eight, and apparently they are going to be joined up to make a huge city, once the wall has annexed the necessary land.

The settlements look horrible - I just can't get over the ugliness of what is being done in Palestine. It's obvious when the Israeli apartheid machine has got a bit of land in it's clutches because it's covered in concrete. Criminal, literally.

As we approached the site we were met on the track by big kids with guns, who were unable to produce the necessary documentation to prove that the area was a 'closed military zone' and that they therefore, apparently, have the right to disperse the protestors. This didn't stop them and within twenty minutes or so the explosions of sound bombs were ringing in our ears and mists of white tear gas were rising from canisters shot into the crowd and the trees.

No stone-throwing had taken place before they started firing. Everyone scattered, and a few minutes later I was on the other side of the hill with one other international and a few 'shebab' (Palestinian youth) choking, eyes and nose streaming, face stinging, head pounding. Its been two and a half years since I've felt that disorientation, at a demonstration against the wall in the West Bank village of Jayyous, which is now cut off from its land and has lost trees, greenhouses, water sources, access to family members... All that time the wall has been being constructed, crushing the Palestinians into open-roofed prisons. Meanwhile, the international community has done nothing - apart from ruling it illegal at the court in the Hague, but who is Israel to take any notice of international law? We need sanctions. It worked for South Africa.

Most of the day was spent hanging out at the top of the track by a house (poor family) while the Palestinians around us and in the olive trees played their crazy game with the stones and the soldiers and the tear gas and rubber bullets. Our job was to witness and record what was going on, make sure that injured people could get to the waiting ambulance, know what was happening if people were arrested. At one point we came out into the track with our hands up shouting "Internationals! Don't shoot!" in order to put out a fire that had started on some dry grass after a gas canister or sound bomb had exploded there. And then suddenly the stakes of the game changed and in amongst the gas and rubber bullets live ammunition was being fired. And everything carried on, just as it was. Perhaps most of the younger kids- aged six or so upwards - had gone home by then. A couple of the ones around us commented on which rounds were potentially lethal (I think I can probably tell the difference between the sound of live ammunition and metal rubber coated bullets by now) and then carried on catapulting stones. Apparently its not unheard of for them to use live bullets at these demonstrations and demonstrators have been shot dead before.

At about five o'clock the army retreated closer to the destruction site and we moved forwards. There was a lull in the proceedings as Palestinians who had been working on the settlement finished their shift and walked past us along the track.

The man I was chatting to, who was part of the local Committee Against the Wall which organizes the demonstrations and keeps a track of what’s going on, told me that they are all people from outside the village, from other parts of the West Bank. There were quite a lot of them, most of them looked a bit shifty as they passed. Some greetings were exchanged.

Not many shebab were left by this point, although it was quite hard to tell as they were mostly in the trees. Most of the internationals also left.

I stayed on with a two others. Some of the Palestinians started shouting and laughing - a soldier had got really wound up and had taken off his gun and helmet and was offering to fight one of the shebab - 'man to man', no doubt. What had they been calling him? Coward? The other two internationals disappeared into the trees somewhere and I started filming a few young lads who were messing about playfighting. They couldn't have looked less like terrorists if they tried. When the other internationals re-appeared J said to me "I've been hit". They had been standing under a tree as a soldier was firing about 200 meters or so away. Something had hit J just above his groin, it had pierced his skin but had not ripped his clothes. The boy standing with him had also been hit, in the head. He had disappeared with someone else. J was trying to work out what had hit them, and thought perhaps it was a piece of the tree which had splintered off as a rubber bullet hit it. He said his ears were ringing from a loud noise. It was only when we got back to the ISM flat that someone told us the round had been live.

J went back to where it happened with another international and they found fragments of lead in the trunk of the tree. A couple of people went to the hospital to see how the boy was. He had fragments of lead in his head. That night we ate in stunned silence, J struggling to digest what had happened to him. A week later when J finally got an X ray done. He discovered that he also had a small lead fragment lodged in his wound.

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