Definitions

Bil

Bil'in

Bil'in (بلعين) is a Palestinian village located in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, located west of the city of Ramallah in the central West Bank. It is adjacent to the Israeli West Bank barrier and the Israeli settlement of Modi'in Illit. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Bil'in was occupied by Israeli forces. Since the signing of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1995, it has been administered by the Palestinian National Authority.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Bil'in has a population of 1,800, mostly Muslims. The main economic activity is agriculture. Bil'in is considered an ideological stronghold of Fatah, and many employees of the Palestinian Authority reside there.

West Bank barrier protests

Bil'in is located 4 kilometers east of the Green Line, near the Israeli West Bank barrier, a barrier that was held by the International Court of Justice to be contrary to international law on 9 July 2004. A week before the International Court of Justice gave this Advisory Opinion, the High Court of Israel gave a ruling on a 40-kilometre strip of the Wall in which it held that, while Israel as the Occupying Power had the right to construct the Wall to ensure security and that substantial sections of the Wall imposed undue hardships on Palestinians and had to be re-routed. Moreover, on September 4, 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the government to redraw the path of the wall because the current route was deemed "highly prejudicial" to the villagers of Bil'in. Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote in the ruling, "We were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bilin’s lands." The case was filed two years previously by the local council leader of Bilin, Ahmed Issa Abdullah Yassin, who hired Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard to argue the case. The Israeli Defence Ministry says it will respect the ruling.

On September 5, 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled to legalize the Israeli settlement of Mattiyahu East (part of Modi'in Illit's expansion), built on a disputed portion of Bil'in's land to the west of the wall, The village of Bil'in has vowed to continue its resistance against the wall and settlements on its land, and offered support to other villages facing similar problems. The barrier separates the village from 60 percent of its farming land. A new neighborhood of Modi'in Illit is being constructed on part of this land. The settlements around Bil'in are said to be funded by Israeli businessmen Lev Leviev and Shaya Boymelgreen who are thereby promoting their political and economic interests.

Since January 2005, the village has been organizing weekly protests against the construction of the barrier. The protests have attracted media attention and the participation of left-wing groups such as Gush Shalom, Anarchists Against the Wall and the International Solidarity Movement. The protests take the form of marches from the village to the site the barrier with the aim of halting construction and dismantling already constructed portions. The protests often end in stonethrowing and rioting in which both protesters and soldiers have been injured. In July 2005, activists entered a metal box placed on the route of the barrier, halting its construction for a short time.

Serious clashes between protesters and Israeli forces took place in September 2005 and March 2006. Solidarity conferences were held in the village in February 2006 and April 2007.

Jonathan Pollak from Anarchists Against the Wall has been injured on numerous occasions and is a regular at the protest demonstrations. Amongst the injuries Pollak has received includes a head injury on April 3, 2005. An Israeli soldier shot Pollak in the head with a teargas canister from an M-16, from a distance of approximately thirty meters at a protest against the Wall in the Bil'in. This left him with two internal brain hemorrhages and a wound requiring 23 stitches

On 11 August 2006 Lymor Goldstein, an Israeli Lawyer was shot in head twice with rubber coated metal bullets, sustaining serious injuries.

Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan, who won the prize in 1976 for her work in the Northern Ireland dispute, on Friday, April 20, 2007, was hit in the leg by a rubber coated steel bullet and reportedly inhaled large quantities of teargas during a non-violent demonstration.

On June 6, 2008, European Parliament vice-president Luisa Morgantini and Julio Toscano, an Italian judge, were injured at a protest in Bil'in.

On 7 July 2008 Ashraf Abu Rahma of Bil'in was filmed by 17 year-old Salam Kanaan at an anti-barrier demonstration in Ni'lin where an Israeli battalion commander (Lt. Col. Omri Bruberg of Armored Battalion 71) is holding Ashraf, a handcuffed and blindfolded detainee, while a subordinate shoots the detainee in the foot. A polygraph test on Tuesday 29 July 2008 has cast doubts on the testimony of Lt. Col Bruberg. After meeting with OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Bruberg agreed to take a 10-day leave of absence while IDF Judge Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblitt makes the decision of whether or not to press charges against the battalion commander.

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