Bi’lin demo savagely attacked by Israeli forces

The following release from Gush Shalom describes how Israeli forces attacked a joint Palestinian-Israeli non-violent demonstration against the separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bi’lin. The demonstration is notable for its size, and the fact that Palestinian Israeli MK’s and some well-known Palestinians took part. For the second time, Israeli special forces dressed in mufti staged provocations from within the Palestinian side, throwing rocks at Israeli forces so that they could have a pretext to open fire. Previously Ha’aretz’ Amira Hass noted a Border Police unit in mufti did the same thing at a demo in the village of Beit Surik.

See photos, including of Israel undercover police, and an Israel soldier grabbing MK Mohammed Barekeh around the neck.

Bili’in, April 28
Gush Shalom

On the invitation of Bil’in village, west of Ramallah, Gush Shalom participated today (Thursday, 28.4.05) in a demonstration against the Separation Fence which is being built on the land of the village. The fence, which almost touches the houses of the village, separates the village from most of its land, on which the ultra-orthodox settlement of Kiryat Sefer will be enlarged even more. This settlement is built wholly on land taken from the adjoining Palestinian villages.

Together with Gush Shalom, “Anarchists Against the Wall”, “Ta’ayush” and the Women’s Coalition for Peace” took part.

All the participants – about 1000 Palestinians and 200 Israelis – undertook in advance to avoid all violence. However, before the demo could reach the site of the fence, it was savagely attacked by the security forces, which bombarded it with tear gas bombs without the slightest provocation.

Many of the demonstrators succeeded in going around the chain of soldiers, but clashed further on with a second chain and were attacked with tear gas. The first section of the demo, which included the Palestinian minister Fares Kadduri, presidential candidate Mustafa Barghouti, Uri Avnery and Knesset members Barakeh, Dahamshe and Sakhalka, got to within 50 meters of the bulldozers, when they were viciously attacked. A tear gas bomb was thrown between the feet of MK Barakeh from a distance of less than a meter. Barakeh was slightly wounded. A soldier pushed Avnery violently and threw him down.

Only then the reason for this violence became clear: for the first time, a special unit of the Prison Service, called Massada, was put into action, using new means of riot control, such as specially painful plastic bullets covered with salt, pepper bombs and more. Several demonstrators, both Israeli and Palestinian, were wounded.

The cameras succeeded in prove a shocking fact: the stones which were thrown at the security forces and served as pretext for their savage behavior, were thrown by undercover members of the special unit disguised as Arabs (called “Arabized”). They mingled with the demonstrators and threw big rocks at the soldiers. When they were exposed, they turned on the nearest demonstrators and arrested four – two Palestinians and two Israelis.

The clashed lasted for four hours, and the demonstrators agreed to withdraw only after they were promised that the arrested men would be released.

(A video film of the demonstration will be shown on the Gush Shalom website immediately after the completion of the editing work.)

Se our last post on the Occupied Territories.

  1. Ha’aretz quote
    “During the clashes, undercover security forces mingled with the demonstrators and began to throw stones at the soldiers and police. Demonstrators said the undercover security forces had provoked the police and soldiers into opening fire with rubber bullets and tear gas. The demonstrators said they had not thrown stones at the soldiers and police.

    “Military sources added that the undercover forces had only started throwing stones after Palestinian youths had adopted such tactics. ‘Stone-throwing by the undercover forces is part of the way in which they operate in such instances,’ the sources said.”(Ha’aretz, Apr. 28)

    There is a good picture of MK Barakeh being assaulted by Israeli forces at the link