***image3***This weekend saw demonstrations in Palestine and across the globe to mark the fifth anniversary of the International Court of Justiceâs advisory verdict on the construction of the Apartheid Wall.
At Bilâin the weekly protest began with a march, with two hundred demonstrators proceeding to the Wall and successfully opening the first set of gates. Occupation forces immediately set off sound bombs and opened fire with tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets. The military also deployed a Border Police vehicle with a water cannon which fires high-pressure imitation sewage and causes vomiting, nausea and disorientation. Dozens were treated for tear gas inhalation as well, and two youth were kidnapped by the military. The demonstration saw speeches calling for a continued grass roots effort to resist the Wall and the settlements on the fifth anniversary of the ICJ ruling, in spite of an increasing campaign of violent repression against Wall-resisting communities.
In the village of Al Maâsara protesters blocked the settler road to commemorate the anniversary. Villagers and international supporters marched toward their land and were stopped my military vehicles and force back towards the village. There, protesters stood against the soldiers, delivering speeches in Arabic, Hebrew and English.
In Niâlin midday prayers were followed by a three hundred-strong protest which marched to the Wall. Here it was met with tear gas and sound bombs. Youth with wire cutters removed razor wire and cut sections of the fence. Two villagers â Baheh Mohamed Abed Al Karder, 17, and Alaâ Adnen Il-Khaweja, 18 â were beaten with sticks and dragged into a jeep after two demonstrators turned out to be undercover operatives. These operatives threw sound bombs and shot live ammunition into the air, dispersing the crowd instantly.
This week also saw a new demonstration at Nahalin, Bethlehem district, where dozens of villagers held prayers on their land, some of which is threatened with use as a path for settler electricity pylons. With little showing by Occupation forces, the protest concluded with speeches about the ICJ judgement and the theft of Palestinian land.
Meanwhile, protests across the world called for an end to the Apartheid Wall. War on Want, the UK-based charity, asked its supporters to write to their MP to remind them of the ICJâs ruling on the illegality of the Wall and its disastrous effects on Palestinian communities. Meanwhile, in Dublin, activists unfurled banners in front of the Israeli Embassy, only to find that the staff had been given a half-day off. Frustrating as this may have been â many of the protestors had travelled considerable distances â the fact that the ICJ ruling, and protests surrounding it, are disrupting Embassy business is a victory. Attention also turned to the EU offices in Dublin.
News of protests came from as far away as Australia and Korea. In Seoul the day was marked by a vigil outside the Israeli Embassy, and in Melbourne five thousand flyers inviting people to write to the Foreign Minister were distributed at a demonstration in the city centre.
As the worldâs leaders fail to implement the ICJâs verdict, or to properly address the injustice of the Wall, they should bear in mind that the people of the world have not forgotten Palestine.