Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign 28 April 2005
Twelve Palestinians were wounded as Occupation Forces unleashed a torrent of bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs in the village of Bil’in on Thursday 28th of April. Over 600 protestors gathered by the village mosque and marched to the west of Bil’in where land is being razed for the construction of the Apartheid Wall, which will trap the village in a ghetto. Around 10 Occupation bulldozers have been at work constantly over the last two weeks, in the project to annex Palestinian land for the expansion of nearby settlements.
Starting at 11 am, dozens of schoolchildren led a lively and colourful march, carrying an enormous Palestinian flag to the confiscated lands. Occupation Forces tried to prevent the crowd from reaching the lands but were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and resilience of protestors chanting “No to the Apartheid Wall” and “This Wall Must Fall.”
In an effort to disrupt the demonstration, Occupation Forces disguised as Palestinians infiltrated the protest and began to throw stones towards the area in which the bulldozers were operating. Upon confrontation by angry villagers, who demanded to see their identification papers, the disguised group claimed to be from the nearby village of Saffa. Knowing this to be false, Palestinians clashed with the unit leading to two of the Occupation Forces being injured. Their true identity was established as they revealed pistols and withdrew with their casualties from the area.
A flurry of rubber bullets was then pumped into the unarmed crowd. Dozens were wounded as sound bombs and tear gas were used in the attempt to push the demonstrators back. Around 50 protestors were able to break through into the Wall-path area where the bulldozers were engaged in their destruction of Palestinian trees and lands. Work was brought to a halt as Occupation Forces spent several hours dispersing this crowd.
The larger group of around 500 protestors gathered on the confiscated lands but was unable to join the smaller demonstration on the Wall’s path. Occupation Forces attacked the crowd twice but each time protestors re-grouped and returned to the land, defiant in their resistance to the ghettoization project of the Apartheid Wall.
A sit-in was held as well as a prayer session conducted on the confiscated land. This action symbolizes the deep attachment villagers hold for their land and the vital life sources it provides through olives, almonds and other products.
In total two Palestinians were arrested and there were 19 wounded. These included three children all under the age of 15. Nine adult Palestinians were injured including Mazen Ahmad Issa who was seriously injured from being shot in the leg. Four journalists were injured, along with three internationals. Nearly all wounds were sustained from shooting.
Occupation Forces used a variety of rubber bullets. One bullet contained an unknown material which contained a white powder leaving red stains and burns on the flesh. Other bullets also contained an unknown chemical powder which will be sent for further analysis.
Bil’in has been at the centre of intense mobilization and resistance over the last month, with several demonstrations organized every week. Once again it was clear from the resilience and determination of the villagers, and those that joined them in solidarity, that the Apartheid Wall and the ghettoization of Palestine will never be accepted. While the ICJ decision for the Apartheid Wall to be dismantled remains ignored by the international community, the grassroots resistance remained defiant to implement the ICJ decision themselves despite the brutality and violence of the Occupation.