IDF troops on Sunday continued taking down the fence around the West Bank village of Bilin after years of protests against Israel's separation barrier.
According the Supreme Court, 173 acres, of which 130 acres are private Palestinian lands, will be returned to the eastern side of the fence. With that, Bilin residents will be able to once again work their lands without any need for IDF coordination. Some 66 acres of land, mostly private, will remain on the western side of the fence.
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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 IDF's Binyamin Division Commander Saar Tzur announced that "NIS 31 million ($9 million) was invested in the new route, NIS 5 million ($1.45 million) of which was allocated to return the place to previous condition."
Taking it down (Photo: AFP)
Tzur estimated they will finish taking down the fence by Thursday.
He remarked that in the past few weeks many Palestinians have come to watch the construction work, but added that he doubts local protests will stop.
"I predict that the demonstrations will continue, especially because there's so much money involved. It's no longer a political issue," he said.
"There are many organizers and teens that are getting paid very nicely to riot every week. We know who the sources are, some of them are being taken care of. In the past few months the riots have decreased dramatically."
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad participated Friday at the weekly Bilin protest. Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh was also present.
Speaking to the crowd, Fayyad said "this is something that is inevitable. It's not over by any stretch of the imagination – this is just the beginning, but it's a good beginning. It took a long time.
"Four years since the High Court ruling, which at long last started to be implemented. It's not the end of the road, but it’s the beginning and it encourages us and our people here in Bilin and elsewhere," he said, adding that "it underscores the immense power of nonviolence.
"This occupation has to end, not only because its oppressive to us Palestinians but because its corrosive to Israelis. That's what this event represents to us. That's what it signifies – it has huge significance," Fayyad said.
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