Bilin in the West Bank stages a weekly demonstration of resistance against Israeli occupation. For the first time in the 11-year history of this popular form of opposition, Israeli forces did not use tear gas and other crowd control weapons to disperse protesters, locals said.
Witnesses said Israeli forces photographed protesters, and ambush attempts failed. Protesters raised Palestinian flags and marched in the streets chanting songs of unity and resistance.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, the coordinator of the Bilin popular committee, stated that this unusual behaviour of the Israeli soldiers is a sign of their “failure” to suppress the village’s continued struggle against the Israeli occupation.
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) April 1, 2016
Bilin’s weekly protests have long been one of the most organized forms of opposition against Israeli policies. This year marks the eleventh consecutive year of such marches against expanding nearby settlements and the wall which separates residents from their private land. Palestinian injuries by Israeli forces are frequently reported during the protests.
A report published in March by Defense for Children International-Palestine stated: “Across the West Bank, Israeli forces employ rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters, water cannons, sound grenades, and other ‘non-fatal riot dispersal methods’ to quash protests”. This despite the fact that “Israeli military regulations restrict the parameters and manner of their use, the excessive and improper use of crowd control weapons can lead to permanent disability or even death, particularly in children.”
Despite Israel’s persistent use of violent crowd dispersal methods, villages in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem have been participating in weekly Friday protests for years.