September 05, 2007

Court win for Bil'in, victory for passive resistance

Here's a heartening report from the Guardian. Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that parts of the wall have to be uprooted from by Bil'in. I read once that Israel's Supreme Court once ordered Ben Gurion not to depopulate and demolish two Palestinian villages and that he just went ahead anyway. You might want to check that. My point here is that the court might not be the final arbiter of what becomes of a Palestinian village. But it is heartening to believe that the court may have decided as it did because of the resistance of the local Palestinians and the under-reported fact that they are joined by internationals and Israelis.
to the embarrassment of the Israeli government, the supreme court yesterday ordered the defence ministry to present a new path for the barrier and said the current route could not be justified. Chief justice Dorit Beinish said: "We were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bil'in's lands." In certain places it would mean the fence must be torn down.

Although not the first such decision by the court, the ruling stands out for its tough language and the fact that Bil'in, almost alone among Palestinian villages, has mounted over the past two-and-a-half years a successful campaign of peaceful resistance to the barrier. "Weapons were forbidden from the start," Mr Yassin said. "People decided we should take a prominent role with a peaceful movement because we knew that with an armed struggle we were not capable of taking back one inch of land. If we had fired one bullet, the Israeli army would have found an excuse to kill the whole village."

Demonstrators gather every Friday, march to the barrier singing and waving flags, and confront the Israeli soldiers. Stones are thrown and answered with teargas, stun grenades and often rubber-coated bullets. At least two people have been seriously injured and many others suffered lesser injuries, including Mr Yassin's son and cousin, both hit by stun grenades or rubber-coated bullets.

Yesterday, trucks and vans carried dozens of singing villagers out to the barrier again where they waved flags and rattled sticks on the metal fence in front of the Israeli soldiers. One villager shouted to the crowd through a loudspeaker: "Your steadfastness brought you here."

"Because of our protests the world knew about us and that's why we won," said Abdul Latif Yassin, 50, a school teacher. "But we still have more land beyond the barrier than has been given back to us today."

One of the protest organisers, Nasir Samarra, 27, stood in the crowd wearing a T-shirt that read: Free Palestine. "Our struggle has only just started," he said. "Now we want Israel to implement this decision, not simply to pass judgment."

Among the demonstrators there have always been foreigners and Israeli activists, so the protests have become one of the highest-profile instances of joint, non-violent action between Israelis and Palestinians.
So at least a moral victory for Palestine, for peaceful resistance and for internationalism. Next year Jerusalem!


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