Confronting the Apartheid Wall – Saffa and Bil’in Villagers Eject Occupation Forces
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Confronting the Apartheid Wall – Saffa and Bil’in Villagers Eject Occupation Forces

***image2***On Thursday February 17th Occupation Forces along with their entourage of Wall path technicians entered the villages of Saffa and Bil’in. They surveyed the area in order to determine the Wall’s path in the two villages.

The Wall is planned to continue in its second phase from Salfit district to Ramallah district and will surround these villages. Occupation Forces placed markers on the lands of Bil’in village for the Wall’s path, in the southwestern part of the village, between it and Saffa village. Villagers have yet to receive any confiscation orders from the Occupation Forces who have begun the process of stealing their lands and enclosing the village behind the Apartheid Wall.

At the arrival of the Occupation Forces hundreds of people from the village ran to their lands and blocked the route. The defiance and resilience of the villagers forced the Occupation Forces out of Bil’in.

The following day brought the return of the Occupation Forces and once again villagers successfully resisted their attempts to begin construction of the Apartheid Wall. Palestinians gathered holding Friday prayers on their threatened lands. The Occupation Forces insisted on marking the lands for the Wall’s path, leading to confrontations. Yet again Palestinians were successful in driving the Occupation Forces and their team of technicians out of the area.

On Sunday February 20th, Occupation Forces returned to the village and began razing land and uprooting trees. Over 200 trees, many of which date back centuries, were destroyed. Villagers attempted to halt the work of the Occupation Forces and clashes continued late into the night.

The Popular Committee against the Wall declared a strike for the following day, and called for a mass demonstration. On Monday morning the entire village gathered in the threatened lands and attempted to defend themselves and their trees from further violence and destruction.

Many people were seriously wounded during the confrontations as Occupation Forces fired live ammunition at demonstrators. Among the injured was Inas karam, a three month old girl. Others included Mohammad Hassan (in the head), Louai Burnat (in the back) while Mohammad Abu, Ihab Ahmad, Khaled al-Khatib and Zuhdiya Khaib sustained critical wounds to their legs.

The next day, demonstrations started from both the villages of Bil’in and Saffa. Both groups met in the area cordoned for confiscation and began direct resistance against the Occupation bulldozers destroying their lands. Again many people were injured as the Occupation Forces shot at them.

The violence and destruction meted out by the Occupation Forces has served to only reinforce the resolve of the villagers to resist the illegal Apartheid Wall. On Friday March 5th, both villages organized another demonstration on their confiscated lands. Signs and slogans against the Apartheid Wall were raised. This latest demonstration was followed by confrontations with the Occupation Forces and clashes continued until they withdrew from the village. In a statement by the Popular Committee Against the Wall in the two villages, the committee highlighted how the Wall will annex 2500 dunums of their lands to be used for the expansion and benefit of the illegal settlement of Mattityahu East. The Committee called for the immediate cessation of the Wall’s construction.

New demonstrations and clashes broke out again on the 11th of March as villagers came together to pray on the confiscated land. New injuries were reported and the Occupation Forces have begun jailing resistance to the illegal Apartheid Wall.

The people in Saffa and Bil’in know that only by resisting the Wall can it be stopped and dismantled. They have sustained vicious and horrific violence from the Occupation Forces but continue to struggle against the colonization of their land, the imprisonment from the wall and the destruction of their livelihoods.