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Occupation magazine - Siege, Wall, Checkpoints
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Public hanging against the Wall
27 May 2005
On Friday after prayers, the people of Bil`in together with international and Israeli activists gathered at the mosque for a protest. A huge banner reading `The Apartheid Wall: the Final Stage in Israel`s Expansionist Policy` had been turned into a gallows: ten ropes were hanging from the banner. Ten Palestinians were wrapped in white shrouds and written on their chests in English, Hebrew and Arabic were what the Apartheid Wall would kill in Bil`in and
Palestine: `Trees`, `Freedom`, `Movement`, `Peace`, `Culture`, `Water`, `Hope`, `State`, `Community` and `Justice`. These 10 were to be `hung` when we reached the construction site or the line of soldiers.
Surprisingly we managed to get pretty close to the construction site.
Usually we are stopped right at the edge of the village. However, today was different. It seems to have been designated by the Israeli army as a media war between themselves and the village of Bil`in. The army had decided to put on a show for the Israeli media and had invited lots of camera crews and journalists. The IOF has gotten very bad press from Bil`in, unsurprisingly as they have been very brutal in repressing peaceful protests, using obscene amounts of rubber bullets, teargas and sound bombs (and occasionally live ammunition), and beating and arresting non-violent activists. Today, the Israeli Army was going to show their nice side to the Israeli public, hence they let us come a bit closer.
At some distance from the soldiers we started the hanging, and chanted slogans against the Wall, after which we slowly proceeded towards the line of soldiers and media. The `hung` villagers did a very good job in pretending to be dead and the media loved it. Ten hung Palestinians in Islamic funeral shrouds in front of about 30 Israeli soldiers was too great a photo opportunity to miss!!!
The soldiers were on their best behavior for the day and they had brought in several female soldiers and an army ambulance for visual effects. In my two months in Bil`in I have only seen one female soldier, and never an army ambulance. The official spokesperson of the occupying forces was there. The IOF wanted to show that it is the protestors that always start the violence (ignoring, of course, that the occupation in itself is violence), a clear distortion of past events. They also wanted to show how benevolent the Israeli Army is when they allow Palestinians to protest.
After the media had had plenty of time to film the protest and had interviewed the hung Palestinians, we simply turned around and left the soldiers. There was no stone throwing. The media war was something that the IOF could not and did not win on this day.
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