Sunday, April 18, 2010
Friday 16th April marked a special day in the history of Bilín's popular resistance to the apartheid wall which encroaches onto village lands. A year ago one of the leaders of the struggle, the much-loved Bassem Abu Ramah, was killed by a teargas cannister fired at short range by an Israeli soldier.
The anniversary of his death was commemorated with marching bands and speeches remembering Bassem by local leaders and visiting dignitaries. When these eventually came to an end many villagers, accompanied by ISM and other international volunteers and a sizeable contingent of Israeli anarchists, and others, marched to the wall. They were met by a small squad of Israeli Occupation Force soldiers, who fired tear gas cannisters and rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowd. Being downwind, many of the marchers suffered from tear gas inhalation and the demonstrators soon dispersed.
The Friday demonstration has become such an established event that it now attracts a variety of people seeking to take advantage of the opportunity it offers: small boys sell embroidered purses and other handicrafts, an icecream seller plies his trade and Big Cheeses from the Palestine Authority sometimes make an appearance. This Friday one dignitary was chauffered towards the vicinity of the wall in a shiny silver four-wheel drive, and back again after having suffered a mild affliction of tear gas. The rest, including women, children and the elderly chose a more traditional form of locomotion - they walked.
While the villagers welcome any displays of interest or solidarity from representatives of their elected government (oops, hang on that's Hamas) there is a perception amongst some that the Palestinian Authority is merely a "second Occupation".