Saturday, February 6, 2010

Battling in Bil'in

written by Michael:

Bil'in and several nearby villages have long made news headlines for their determination to hold strong to their land. Last friday, Josh and I witnessed their passion firsthand, as we watched unarmed Palestinians march towards military personnels firing stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets, teargas cannisters, and dressed in riot-gear.

Bil'in has held strong in condemning the separation barrier for nearly five years. The fence was first proposed to cut through the village's center, but after a long legal-battle, it was agreed that there was no clear reason for the fence's route to cut through the village. Instead, the fence was erected on the outskirts of the village, thereby cutting off 60% of Bil'in's farming land.

Every week, the villagers, joined by dozens of internationals, march towards the fence in hopes of [symbolically] dismantling it. And each week, they are met with the same response: rubber bullets, stun grenades, teargas, batons and sometimes even live ammunition. I read of the injuries nearly every week on Palestinian news. People have even been killed at these protests. Just a few months ago, American activist Triston Anderson was badly wounded and put in a coma after having been struck in the head by a teargas canister in a nearby village, Nil'in. In the first three months of protesting alone, over 130 people were seriously injured. More than a half kilometer away from the protest site in the village's center, the stench of teargas burned my nostrils even after the protest had concluded. Oftentimes, just after the protest, the military enters the village and fires stun grenades in hopes of scaring the locals indoors.

In a way, Bil'in seems symbolic to me of what should be happening all around Palestine. On one hand, Bil'in has suffered equally as much as most other Palestinian cities. Similar to Bethlehem, most of the population has been cut off from their farmland. Similar to Bethlehem, Israel conducts nightly raids and arrests local activists. And whereas those living in Bethlehem have simply lost hope and turned towards complaining as their sole form of resistance, those in Bil'in have taken up a steadfast battle against their oppressor. Unlike much of Palestine, where Hamas vs. Fatah debates halt any constructive progress, the people of Bil'in are united for a liberated Palestine and a better future.

It has taken me several days to actually post this blog. Fortunately, progress has been made in Bil'in since I initially wrote this, proof of the positive effect of their determination, unity, and non-violent resistance. After five years of protest, they have finally won their battle against the wall.


  1. Mobs of unarmed Palestinians have kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers before, and the soldiers have no reason to expect that this has stopped completely.

    ~ Ben Halpern

  2. And Israeli soldiers continue to kidnap, torture and kill innocent Palestinians and the Palestinians have no reason to expect them to stop.