The West Bank village of Bil'in has become famous for several years now as the site of weekly protests against the construction of the wall. The route of the wall separates the village itself from 60% of its farmland (mostly olive groves). The weekly protests are themselves non-violent, they but have often met with violent responses on the part of the Israeli military, which is adopting an increasingly belligerent attitude towards the protests.
Last September, the Israeli Supreme Court decided in favor of the protesters, ruling that the route of the wall needs to be moved further west. This would restore 250 acres of farmland to the village. It was an unexpected legal victory. However, as is reported in the piece below, not only has the Israeli military failed to comply with this ruling, Israeli settlers (under the protection of the Israeli army) have started construction on the farmlands legally belonging to Bil'in (expanding the nearby settlement).
The Supreme Court ruling changing the route of the wall was celebrated as a victory for tactics of non-violent resistance. The failure of the Israeli army to enforce this ruling will be (at best) a discouragement for such tactics, and more likely an incitement to future violence.
For more information see: http://www.bilin-village.org/english/
Israeli settlers and army started to expand illegal settlement on Bil'in land
Monday May 26, 2008
Israeli settlers under the protection of the Israeli army started on Monday morning to install homes on lands that belong to villagers from Bil'in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Iyad Burnat, of the local committee against the wall and settlement construction, said that villagers noticed the construction since early morning on Monday. Villagers tried to reach their land in order to stop the settlers but Israeli troops prevented them from crossing the wall.
A group of men from the village were staying over night in there land managed to come close to the trucks installing the mobile homes of the settlers and stopped them by standing infornt of them, Burnat stated. He added that the men will continue to block the trucks way in an attempt to stop the destruction of the villagers lands.
In 2007 the villagers of Bil'in won an Israeli high court of Justice decision to remove the Israeli wall that separates the village from its land and move it away. The Israeli army refused to comply with the order for "security reasons."
The court ruling also forbids the settlers from expanding the settlement of Mitetyaho Mizrah which is built on the village land. Today settlers came and installed six mobile homes on the villagers' land in a clear sign that they are going to expand their settlement, Burnat said.
Burnat demanded more involvement form the Palestinian Authority and he asked for the freeze of negotiations with Israel since Israel refuses to respect any agreements with the Palestinians.
Last November the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks were revived by the U.S on the basis of the Road Map peace plan. According to the Road Map plan Israel must stop all settlement activity in the West Bank.
The villagers of Bil'in have been conducting weekly nonviolent protests against the Israeli wall and settlements for a little over three years. Burnat told IMEMC that the villagers of Bil'in will continue their resistance and the legal work in the Israeli court system.
For more information:
The Bilin Friends of freedom and Justice -society
Tel: 972 547 847 942
Jewish Peace News editors:
Sarah Anne Minkin
Jewish Peace News blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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