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Apartheid Wall Protest in Bil'in, West Bank, Palestine, 12/17/10: photos & video
On December 17th, 2010, Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals together marched out of the village of Bil'in in the West Bank to protest the Israeli apartheid wall. This weekly demonstration has occurred since 2005.
Pictured below is an Israeli prison we passed on the drive to Bil'in. It is filled with hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners. The Israeli Defense Force has the power to declare military zones anywhere at will and arrest "violators" of these zones. The military can hold Palestinians for years with no charges, or with charges and trials based on secret "evidence". Often it is organizers of political demonstrations such as the weekly protests in Bil'in who are arrested and jailed.
To get to Bil'in from Jerusalem, we took Route 443, an Israeli-only apartheid highway intended to ease travel to and from the large Modi'in settlement. The highway cuts through many Palestinian roads that are now blocked off, making travel from one side to the other more difficult for Palestinians in the West Bank. The Israeli Supreme Court recently ruled that the exclusion of Palestinians on the road is illegal under international law, but Supreme Court rulings are regularly ignored by the military and other authorities and for all practical purposes the road remains Israeli-only to this day.
Some Past Coverage of Bil'in on Indybay:
Israeli Soldiers Raid Bil’in, Arrest 2 Palestinian Children, 5 Palestinian Adults
Mon Aug 3 2009 Suppression and Arrests of Palestinian Non-Violent Resistance in Bil’in
My Beloved Bil’in-weekly demo against the wall
My beloved Bil’in - weekly demo against the wall - part 2
Most of those in the march made it to the bottom of the hill approaching the wall when the IDF began firing tear gas at the largest group of marchers. The gas used is far more intense than that used in the United States . Reportedly, it contains cyanide and is produced by U.S. manufacturers.
This reporter was unable to open his eyes for almost ten minutes after the first direct exposure to the gas at the bottom of the hill, only able to peak out of one eye for a second at a time to determine the correct course back toward town while walking away, and was unable to document the first volleys of gas.
Most of the marchers retreat once the thick gas begins raining down. Experienced demonstrators carry medical alcohol pads and pieces of onion to inhale nasally in order to mitigate the gas' effect. Perhaps two dozen young Palestinians remained near the wall at the end of the road and in the surrounding hills for an hour or more, despite the continuous downpour of the noxious gas.
A two-minute talk with a leader of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee is included near the end of this video.
The main march didn't make it further than the bottom of the hill (obscured by trees here)
The gas was directed at those near the wall at the end of the road, those moving amongst the trees and surrounding areas on the hillside, and those on the road who, while in retreat, might have stopped to deal with the trauma of previous gas exposure
Tear gas has smudged the camera lens at this point. It was stubborn to clean off.
Bil'in weekly demonstration against the Israeli apartheid wall