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2 November 2005
Solidarity in the Occupied Territories
Palestinians and Israeli activists come together in weekly peaceful protest in the West Bank
In the Palestinian village of Bil’in the construction by the Israeli army of the fence/wall through the West Bank has disastrous consequences. It will cut the villagers off from two thirds of their land, the main source of their livelihood.
For the past year the villagers have been holding peaceful demonstrations each week to protest against the fence/wall. They have been joined by Israeli and international activists. The weekly Palestinian-Israeli demonstrations and other activities in Bil’in have come to symbolize non-violent protest and solidarity between the two communities.
The Israeli army has responded with unwarranted force. Soldiers fire tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets, and often beat and arrest demonstrators. Israeli peace activists are increasingly being prevented from reaching the village. The Israeli army has been imposing curfews, declaring the place a “closed military area” and turning back Israeli peace activists on the roads leading to the village. As a result fewer outsiders are present to witness the human rights abuses which the villagers suffer daily.
With the olive harvest underway, Israeli peace activists have joined the Palestinian villagers in Bil’in to pick olives in the fields which are being cut off from the village by the fence/wall. The route of the fence has been designed to appropriate large areas of Palestinian land and expand Israeli settlements, built in the Occupied Territories in violation of international law.
Although the Israeli authorities claim that the fence/wall is being built to “separate” Israel from the West Bank, more than 80 per cent of it is being erected on Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has called on Israel to cease constructing the fence/wall in the West Bank and dismantle the sections already built there. Israel continues to disregard the ICJ’s recommendation.