|• Also spelled||Bilin (unofficial)|
The main mosque in Bil'in
|Governorate||Ramallah & al-Bireh|
|• Type||Village Council|
|• Head of Municipality||Ahmed Issa Abdullah Yassin|
|• Jurisdiction||3,983 dunams (4.0 km2 or 1.5 sq mi)|
|Name meaning||Belain (personal name)|
Bil'in (Arabic: بلعين) is a Palestinian village located in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) west of the city of Ramallah in the central West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Bil'in has a population of 1,800, mostly Muslims.
After the Six-Day War in 1967, Bil'in was occupied by Israeli forces. Since the signing of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1995, it has been administered by the Palestinian National Authority. It is adjacent to the Israeli West Bank Wall—which Israelis often call a separation barrier—and the Israeli settlement of Modi'in Illit.
Historically a small, agricultural village, modern Bil'in is now largely a suburb of nearby Ramallah. According to Neil Rogachevsky, Bil'in is considered an ideological stronghold of Fatah, and many employees of the Palestinian Authority reside there.
|"Map outlining the new security fence route bordering the Palestinian village of Bil'in."—Israel Defense Forces|
Bil'in is located 4 kilometres (2 miles) east of the Green Line, near the West Bank Wall. On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice declared the wall a violation of international law. A week earlier, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Israeli government had the right to construct the wall to ensure security, but that sections of it imposed undue hardships on Palestinians and should be re-routed. In 2005, the local council leader of Bilin, Ahmed Issa Abdullah Yassin, hired Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard to represent the village in a petition to the High Court of Justice. On September 4, 2007, the Court ordered the government to change the route of the wall near Bil'in. Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote in her ruling: "We were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bilin’s lands." The Israeli Defense Ministry said it would respect the ruling and in 2011 began dismantling a section of the barrier in order to relocate it along an alternative route.
On September 5, 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court legalized the Israeli settlement of Mattityahu East, a new neighborhood of Modi'in Illit, built on land that the Palestinians claim belongs to Bil'in, and Israel claims belongs to the state. Bil'in vowed to continue its resistance and offered support to other villages facing similar problems. The wall separates the village from 60 percent of its farmland.
|This section requires expansion. (January 2011)|
Since January 2005, the village has been organizing weekly protests against the construction of the West Bank Barrier. The protests have attracted media attention and the participation of many international organizations as well as left-wing groups such as Gush Shalom, Anarchists Against the Wall and the International Solidarity Movement. The protests take the form of marches from the village to the site of the wall with the aim of halting construction and dismantling already constructed portions. Israeli forces always intervene to prevent protesters from approaching the wall, and violence usually erupts in which both protesters and soldiers have been very seriously injured. Some protesters have taken to wearing gas masks at the protests. The weekly protests, which last a couple of hours, regularly draw international activists such as Richard Branson and President Jimmy Carter, who come to support the Palestinian movement.
In June 2005 an Israeli soldier lost an eye after being hit by a rock thrown by a demonstrator, however in the same incident rubber bullets were used resulting in seven protesters being wounded, one of whom was also hospitalised.
Two Bil’in protests in the summer of 2005 are described in detail by Irish journalist David Lynch in his book, A Divided Paradise: An Irishman in the Holy Land. In August 2006, a demonstration against the 2006 Lebanon War was dispersed by the Israel Border Police using tear gas and rubber coated bullets. An Israeli lawyer, Limor Goldstein, was severely injured after being shot twice.
Conferences demonstrating solidarity with the protesters were held in the village in February 2006 and April 2007.
Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work on the Northern Ireland dispute, was hit in the leg by a rubber-coated bullet and reportedly inhaled large quantities of teargas during a demonstration in April 2007. In June 2008, European Parliament vice-president Luisa Morgantini and Julio Toscano, an Italian judge, were injured in Bil'in. In April 2009, Bil'in resident Bassem Ibrahim Abu-Rahma was killed after being hit in the chest by a high-velocity tear gas canister.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall, was arrested in December 2009 after organizing an exhibit of spent ammunition used against the protesters. He was charged with possession of Israeli arms, incitement and hurling stones at IDF soldiers. Desmond Tutu urged Israel to release him. He served a 15 month sentence in the Israeli prison of Ofer, and is characterised by Israeli academic and pacifist David Dean Shulman as an exponent of Gandhian principles of non-violence.
On March 15, 2010, Israeli soldiers entered Bil'in to post notices declaring a closed military zone consisting of the areas between the barrier and the town. The order enforces the closure on Fridays between 0800 and 2000 during which the protests occur. While the closure does not apply to Palestinian residents of Bil'in, Israeli citizens and internationals are forbidden from entering the zone.
A film portraying the protests shot from the perspective of the people of Bil'in over many years starting in 2005 called 5 Broken Cameras, by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi became popular after being shown at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Festival's World Cinema Documentary Directing Award. It also was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in the 85th Academy Awards.
Bassem Abu Rahmeh
On April 17, 2009, Bassem Abu Rahmeh, 29, was killed after being struck in the chest by a teargas canister fired by Israeli forces during a protest in Bil'in. His killing is depicted in the 2011 film 5 Broken Cameras.
Jawaher Abu Rahmah
On December 31, 2010, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, died following a weekly protest. According to reports she was seriously injured in a tear gas attack during the demonstration. The exact cause of death is disputed. Other reports place her at home at the time of the incident, several hundred meters away. Taken to a hospital in Ramallah after she choked on the gas, she did not respond to treatment and died the following day. Members of the Israeli military (IDF) claimed there was no evidence Rahmah participated in the protest, or that tear gas had killed her, and stated that there were irregularities in the Palestinian Authority's medical report on Rahmah's death. The IDF soldiers referenced in the stories remain unnamed. Several Jewish Israelis in Tel Aviv who were protesting against the IDF's presumed involvement with the death were arrested by Israeli police on 1 January 2011 outside Israel's Defense Ministry. According to a released medical report "there was no clear cause of death, the burial was undertaken via an accelerated procedure, and no post-mortem was performed. The information also reveals that Abu-Rahma was administered an unusual quantity of drugs, used to offer treatment against poisoning, drug overdose, or leukemia.". However, an IDF spokesperson denied that Abu-Rahma died of medical negligence.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bilin.|
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- Official website
- Account of Injury
- International Solidarity Movement article about the 2005 conference
- Eyewitnesses Describe Death of Palestinian Woman in Bil'in after Israeli Tear Gas Attack - video report by Democracy Now!
- Bil'in, areal photo