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Clashes in Bil'in Photo: Haim Tzach
Clashes in Bil'in Photo: Haim Tzach
 
 

Battle for the fence

(VIDEO) Every Friday two sides prepare for routine battle: Palestinians, Left-wingers protest against fence in village of bil'in against security forces. Dozens have been injured on both sides

Efrat Weiss
Published: 05.04.06, 10:55 / Israel News

VIDEO - It's a script known in advance, played out by the same actors every Friday. The number of those injured changes every week, but the damage caused to the West Bank security fence is only increasing, standing today at NIS 1 million (USD 223,000).

 

Since the start of the year, dozens of members of the security forces were injured in protests near the fence by Bil'in, and in one particularly violent rally one soldier even lost his eye.

 

Bil'in clashes (Video: Yaron Brenner)

 

Dozens of protesters have also been injured, including a Palestinian teenager critically injured by a rubber bullet in his head; he is still hospitalized with brain damage. The IDF calls the protests against the fence the "Friday game" – an attempt by anarchists to maintain public attention and turn it against the fence. Ynet correspondents described the events that took place there last Saturday:

 

It's 13:30, the security forces are ready to receive the protesters, and the gate is locked, because it is Friday. Three jeeps are situated on the front line. Close to 13:40 a procession of 150 Palestinians, Left-wing activists, and foreigners begins. They set out from the mosque carrying a large PLO flag.

 

Lieutenant Colonel Avi Prastanfeld already knows the score: "Most of the activity is carried out by anarchists and Left-wing activists. The protest begins like every protest. At the start there are speeches, then the pushing begins, slowly, slowly. Left-wing activists who are the front then pass to the sides and Palestinian youths aged 16-23 go to the back and throw rocks. Left-wing activists are the one who incite the atmosphere and Palestinians are the ones who throw the rocks."

 

The Security Fence in the district of Maccabim is 78 kilometers (48 miles) long. The fence is almost entirely completed, except one four-kilometer (2.4 miles) long section near Hashmonaim, and four kilometers near Bil'in. According to "Anarchists Against the Fence" activist Yonatan Polack, the fence harms the lives of Palestinians who live in the area, and prevents them from reaching their lands and working on them.

 

'We'll liberate Palestine with blood'

 

On the ground, the IDF company commander announces over a loudspeaker that this is a closed military zone, and presents the decree to the demonstrators. Protesters begin shouting, "with spirit and blood we'll redeem Palestine," and "soldier, murderer, the intifada will win."

 

At first, Israeli Left-wing activists appear at the front and begin shouting at soldiers, while two Palestinians attempt to climb onto of jeeps in order to hurt soldiers. In response, the company commander gives order and troops push back the demonstrators, hitting them with batons. Two Palestinians are injured. The shouts get louder, and suddenly the Left-wing activists move to the sides. Palestinians in the middle then begin throwing rocks at the soldiers.

 

At this stage an order is given and soldiers respond with crowd-dispersal means, including stun grenades and tear gas. On Border Police officers is injured in his hand by a rock and is sent to receive treatment. At this stage the Palestinians escape back to the village. "There's no intention of creating continuous contact," Prastanfeld says dryly.

 

After 20 minutes, the protesters return. They bang on the fence with rocks. One youth begins destroying the fence, while another jumps on it. Suddenly one Palestinian yells he is injured. Another Palestinian tells him: "Get up I'm not dragging you up the hill."

 

The Palestinian who yelled that he was injured smiles, climbs the hill, and then again yells, "I'm injured, I'm injured."

 

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