“Tear down this wall!” then US President Ronald Reagan told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, demanding he tear down the infamous Berlin wall. Two years later, on 9 November 1989, media around the world broadcast images of crowds of Germans from both the east and the west climbing atop the barrier and tearing down large sections of the wall. For many, the event was highly symbolic as it was perceived as the end of the Cold War and the start of a period when the world was headed in a more just and peaceful direction, free of walls keeping peoples apart.
However, two decades later, walls of separation still exist throughout the world. Israel’s wall in the West Bank is much bigger than the Berlin wall ever was, as it encloses more than two million Palestinians inside the occupied West Bank. This wall separates Palestinians from their families, land, natural resources and communities.For years Palestinians in various West Bank villages, along with Israeli and international supporters, have led regular nonviolent demonstrations protesting the wall. In Nilin village, located near the West Bank city of Ramallah, protestors decided to do something different on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.
In a symbolic action, the protestors in Nilin on 6 November were able to knock down a section of the wall before the Israeli army arrived and fired tear gas at the crowd.
Nilin media activists reported:
One protestor managed to climb on to the wall and he raised the Palestinian flag, hereby sending a message to Israel that the Palestinian flag will always go up on Nilin’s land. Even if the land is cut off from the village now, the people of Nilin will never give up the right to their own land. Simultaneously, a group of youth threw bottles with red paint at the Israeli soldiers, the red paint representing the blood of the martyrs in Nilin that were killed by these soldiers.
A small group of participants brought a jack that they placed under one of the concrete segments of the wall. After two hours, the concrete started coming off the ground, partially falling down. This was a strong message from Nilin, one protestor stated: “last Monday the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall was celebrated all over the world; now it’s time for the apartheid wall to fall and this will start in Nilin. We in Nilin are most determined to get our land back, and we will break down this ugly wall.”
The video above, and images below, show the Nilin action that tore down — albeit a small piece — of the Israeli wall.
In a similar action on 9 November dubbed “We are going to Jerusalem,” near the Qalandiya refugee camp outside Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians along with dozens of internationals attached a rope to the wall as they used a truck to tear down one of the concrete slabs. As they demonstrated over the downed segment of the wall, Israeli soldiers arrived firing teargas and rubber bullets at the crowd. The below images show the action.