Bilin protesters bulldoze part of Israel’s illegal wall

The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee reports today that the Israeli army opened fire at a Palestinian protester operating a bulldozer at a gate in the wall in Bilin village today (photographed above). Hundreds protested today during the weekly demonstration in the occupied West Bank village today, after the Israeli army finally implemented an Israeli high court decision made four years ago to dismantle part of the illegal Israeli wall in the village.

The PSCC reports:

The 500 protesters, among them Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli MK Mohammed 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.

While the partial dismantling of the wall is a victory to be celebrated, the struggle goes on, as the PSCC reports:

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.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.