IDF troops on Wednesday began taking down the fence around the West Bank village of Bilin, focus of years of protests against Israel's separation barrier.
Last year, the Defense Ministry announced that it would begin altering the course of the barrier around Bilin in conformity with a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that it significantly impinged on the property rights of Palestinian landowners.
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The IDF is not convinced that the move to the new route will bring an end to the clashes and the protestors have already made it clear that they will continue to demand the return of what they see as all occupied land.
This Friday they will hold what is most probably the last protest in its now familiar format at the fence in the village just west of Ramallah. The defense establishment intends to complete the dismantlement in the next few days and prepare the ground for the new route.
The length of fence set to be removed from Bilin is 2.7 kilometers long. The new route which is set to replace the existing fence is 3.2 kilometers long, mostly a concrete wall, due to the proximity to Modiin Elite and fears of gunfire from the Palestinian side at Israel.
The new route will mean that 700 dunums of land will be given back to the Palestinians, but the fact that 60% of the lands were expropriated to begin with means that the conflict still stands.
The IDF's Binyamin Division has recently been preparing for every scenario that could result from the move to the new route. An IDF source told Ynet that "it is possible that the protests will stop or alternatively in light of the fact that the Palestinians have turned the struggle into a symbol, they will continue after the route is fixed."
Meanwhile the protestors say they intend to continue to protest but might do so less frequently. "We will continue to struggle until all our lands, without exception are given back and the occupation is over," Mohammad Khatib, a member of the Bilin people's committee told Ynet.
Elior Levy and AFP contributed to the report
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