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Israel-Palestine: Bil'in celebrates the court verdict, victory for the joint non-violent struggle

category mashriq / arabia / iraq | community struggles | feature author Wednesday September 05, 2007 22:55author by Anarkismo Report this post to the editors

In the verdict released today (Sept 4, 2007) in the petition of Ahmed Abdullah Yasin on behalf of the Bil'in village council against the separation barrier (HCJ 8414/05), by Chief Justice Dorit Beinish and her colleagues, Justice Ayala Procaccia and Justice Eliezer Rivlin, the High Court ruled against the current route of the barrier and ordered the State to prepare a proposal for an alternative route within a reasonable time, which will leave the agricultural lands of Bil'in on the "Palestinian" side of the barrier. This will mean approximately 250 acres of land being returned to the villagers of Bil'in.

The celebrations started with a party held during the late morning for international and local media. Activists from the village and the region involved with the struggle in Bil'in then continued the celebrations on the streets and in the village's municipality building. In the afternoon, the main contingent of Anarchists Against the Wall arrived from the nearby cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the celebrations gained momentum.

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Bil'in celebrates the court verdict

Victory for the joint non-violent struggle


This morning at 9.00am the verdict of the Israeli High Court was expected on the Bil'in village petition regarding the war crime of building the separation fence used to rob most of the village lands. The High Court is used to giving the rubber stamp of "justice" to the occupation and the settler colonialist project, but can only do so if it follows some kind of logic. But it is logic that has now forced the court to restrict Israel's war crimes in the occupied territories. The joint struggle in Bil'in carried on by the village's popular committee together with the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall initiative, has forced the country's highest court to intervene. After two and a half years of refusing to give a prompt verdict, it has finally had to follow its own principles of justifying the separation fence, and today ordered the settler colonialist establishment to retreat a bit.

In the verdict released today (Sept 4, 2007) in the petition of Ahmed Abdullah Yasin on behalf of the Bil'in village council against the separation barrier (HCJ 8414/05), by Chief Justice Dorit Beinish and her colleagues, Justice Ayala Procaccia and Justice Eliezer Rivlin, the High Court ruled against the current route of the barrier and ordered the State to prepare a proposal for an alternative route within a reasonable time, which will leave the agricultural lands of Bil'in on the "Palestinian" side of the barrier. This will mean approximately 250 acres of land being returned to the villagers of Bil'in.

In the words of the judges: "The present route raises grave questions also in regards to the security advantages it was said to provide ... and the selected route cannot be explained other than by an intention to include the eastern section of "Matityahu-Mizrah" on the west side of the separation barrier". This means that the current route cannot be explained other than by an effort to steal and confiscate village land, a consideration that even the court was not prepared to endorse. Judge Beinish stated that "the Military Commander is not free to reach any decision he wants to in order to realize legitimate security needs. When he sets about delineating the fence's route, he must take into account several considerations and balance between them. The first is the security-military consideration".

The court decided that until the barrier's new route is completed, the gate in the barrier must remain open daily between 6.00am and 8.00pm. The Israeli Defence Ministry, which oversees the planning and construction of the barrier, has said it will "study the ruling and respect it".

But even with the best legal representation, the ruling could not have been arrived at without the unrelenting struggle mounted by the village of Bil'in against the construction of the barrier. The residents of Bil'in had raised the flag of the joint Palestinian-Israeli non-violent struggle from the very beginning of construction on the wall and did not forsake it for a moment. All those who shared in the struggle are fortunate to have participated in an event unprecedented in its importance. We have been privileged to form some very meaningful bonds, as well a sense of empowerment - the prize for those who persist in confronting violent oppression and overcoming it.

In an interview, Anarchists Against the Wall member Yonatan Pollak said "This is a victory for the movement, more so than for the village. But this decision by the judges must not lead us to think that justice is alive and well in the State of Israel. It does, however, tell us that struggle pays its rewards, that the efforts of all those who oppose injustice and who fight against colonialism and the occupation will win in the end. We don't need arms if we are united and determined". But he also added that "the Israeli armed forces' repression is fearsome and some of my comrades, Palestinians and Israeli, have ended up in hospital beds".

The preparations which had been made in order to face up to the expected negative verdict of the court were easily adapted to deal with the unexpectedly positive verdict. The celebrations started with a party held during the late morning for international and local media. Activists from the village and the region involved with the struggle in Bil'in then continued the celebrations on the streets and in the village's municipality building. In the afternoon, the main contingent of Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW) arrived from the nearby Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the celebrations gained momentum.

One member of the Bil'in popular committee, Abdallah Abu Rahma was overjoyed: "We have won an important battle, but we cannot forget that this is a long war and it is our future as Palestinians and not just as Bil'iners is at stake. In order to build the barrier, Israel confiscated 250 hectares of land from us and uprooted thousands of trees, but above all tried to shut us and all the other Palestinians up in bantustans. For this reason the struggle must not stop, but go on to become the struggle of the whole people".

AATW member Ilan Shalif describes the celebrations at the village: "With music and dancing, we converged first on the village centre, following which hundreds of Palestinian women, men, teenagers and kids together with Israelis of the AATW continued the procession along the road leading to the route of the separation fence. At the gate to the other side of the fence, instead of the belligerent soldiers and border guards who attack us during each Friday's demonstration, there were just a few soldiers guarding the gate. After a few sweet minutes of celebration there, we changed direction and danced and sang all the way back to the centre of the village".

Photos of the celebrations:
http://bilin-village.org/english/Court-Victory-for-Bilin-in-pictures

Video of the celebrations in Bil'in:
http://corky.net/~eran/yossi/Bilin_celebration_040907.AVI

After evening prayer, a few of the long-time activists travelled to the nearby city of Ramalla for another party. All the TV channels carried reports on the verdict and the celebration of the long struggle in their main evening news programmes.

However, the journey is still long. The High Court failed to rule that the wall should be moved back to the Green Line, and of course did not abolish the separation that it produces.

Not long ago, several new fronts of joint struggle carrying forward the Bil'in tradition were added to the sporadic activities in the villages of the West Bank suffering as a result of the separation fence and the occupation. One is the struggle in the Ma'asara region - the villages south of Bethlehem, including Umm Salamunah, Walaja, Artas, Beit Umar, Wadi an-Nis and Surif. The struggle there is against the separation fence with direct actions carried out in addition to the Friday demonstrations.

And recently another target has been added to the separation fence: roadblocks, such as building a symbolic roadblock at the entrance to the Karmei Tzur settlement, and time and again removing roadblocks (sometimes for a few hours or days) which obstruct villagers seeking to travel to nearby towns.

Nonetheless, the present ruling is indeed an achievement and will serve to reinforce the popular struggle against the wall. The joint Israeli-Palestinian struggle against the occupation will go on. Both Palestinians and Israelis will join hands and through their actions the apartheid will fail and the theft will fail.


[Article complied and edited by Anarkismo.net from articles by AATW members (I.S., N.S. and A.G.) and Il Manifesto]

Related Link: http://www.awalls.org
 
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