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Bil'in

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This article is about the Palestinian village in the West Bank. For the depopulated Palestinian village, see Bil'in, Gaza. For the Syrian village, see Billin, Syria.
Bil'in
Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic بلعين
 • Also spelled Bilin (unofficial)
View of Bil'in
View of Bil'in
Bil'in is located in the Palestinian territories
Bil'in
Bil'in
Location of Bil'in within the Palestinian territories
Coordinates: 31°55′40″N 35°04′16″E / 31.92778°N 35.07111°E / 31.92778; 35.07111Coordinates: 31°55′40″N 35°04′16″E / 31.92778°N 35.07111°E / 31.92778; 35.07111
Governorate Ramallah & al-Bireh
Government
 • Type Village council
 • Head of Municipality Ahmed Issa Abdullah Yassin
Area
 • Jurisdiction 3,983 dunams (4.0 km2 or 1.5 sq mi)
Population (2007)[1]
 • Jurisdiction 1,701
Name meaning Belain (personal name)[2]

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.[1] It is internationally known for protests against the Israeli occupation and the community leader, Abdullah Abu Rahmah, who heads the weekly protests, is under indictment for what the prosecution has called the 'ideological crime' of taking illegal actions on the West Bank.[3][4]

History

Main mosque of Bil'in

Potsherds from the Hellenistic, Byzantine, Crusader/Ayyubid, and Mamluk periods have been found.[5]

Ottoman era

Potsherds from the early Ottoman period have been found.[5]

In 1863, the French explorer Victor Guérin saw it from a distance, and described it a small hamlet,[6] while an official Ottoman village list of about 1870 showed 32 houses and a population of 147, though the population count included men only.[7] In 1882 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Bil'in (then called Belain) as "a little village on a hill-side".[8]

British Mandate era

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Bil'in had a population of 133, all Muslim,[9] increasing in the 1931 census to 166, still all Muslims, in a total of 39 houses.[10]

In 1945 the village had 210 Muslim inhabitants.[11][12]

1948-1967

In the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and after the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Bil'in came under Jordanian rule.

Post-1967

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 barrier—which Israelis often call a security fence—and the Israeli settlement of Modi'in Illit. Historically a small agricultural village, modern Bil'in is now nine kilometres (five point six miles) from the western outskirts of Ramallah. According to Neil Rogachevsky,[who?] Bil'in is considered an ideological stronghold of Fatah, and many employees of the Palestinian Authority reside there.[13]

Court rulings

Bil'in is located 4 kilometres (2 miles) east of the Green Line. Israel's West Bank barrier split the village in two, separating it from 60 percent of its farmland.[14] In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion that "the construction of the wall by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is contrary to international law".[15]

In 2005, the local council leader of Bil'in, 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 4 September 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[16][17] and in 2011 began dismantling a section of the barrier in order to relocate it along an alternative route.[18]

In February 2007, the Supreme Planning Council (SPC) for Judea and Samaria "legalized" what Haaretz described at the time as "the largest-ever illegal construction project in the West Bank", 42 buildings with a total of approximately 1,500 apartments in the Matityahu East neighborhood of the ultra-Orthodox Israel settlement Modi'in Illit by Canadian registered companies Green Park and Green Mount, with two other companies, Ein Ami and Hefziba.[19] The buildings were already in various stages of construction when the SPC announced their decision.[19] In response, Michael Sfard filed a petition on behalf of Peace Now and Bil'in residents at the High Court of Justice (HCJ) requesting a halt to the construction. The HCJ had already ordered that the construction and occupation of the buildings be halted the previous year based on another petition by Peace Now and Bil'in residents.[19]

Sfard alleged that the planning authorities, who had refused to hear the claims of Bil'in residents intended to prove land ownership, were aware of the illegality of the construction but did not stop it and that the body administering the relocation of the barrier planned a route in order to obtain hundreds of dunams of Bil'in's agricultural lands for Modi'in Illit's expansion.[19] On September 5, 2007, the day after the HCJ ordered the state to alter the route of a 1.7-kilometer section of the West Bank barrier, the court rejected the petition filed a year and a half earlier concerning Mattityahu East construction, and ruled that the existing buildings could remain, but ordered settlers, the state, and construction companies to pay the petitioners' NIS 160,000 court fees.[20] The petition claimed that some of the land on which the settlement was being constructed was owned by Bil'in residents but the state claims that the land of Matityahu East belongs to the state.[20][21] Describing the ruling, Haaretz reported that "the court based its decision on the fact that the petitions should have been filed several years earlier...the state will not remove the hundreds of settlers who stormed apartments they had purchased, after it became clear that construction company Heftsiba had collapsed...[and] the court apparently has given approval to the existing status quo in the area - the existing part of the neighborhood will remain in place, but plans to expand the neighborhood will not be carried out."[20]

Mohammed Khatib, a member of Bil'in's Popular Committee Against the Wall and the secretary of Bil'in's Village Council, said they "will continue to challenge these expanding settlements because they threaten the futures of Bil'in and the Palestinian people".[22]

According to the New Left Review, the settlements around Bil'in are being funded by Israeli businessmen Lev Leviev and Shaya Boymelgreen to promote their political and economic interests.[23][24]

Weekly protests

A 2005 protest in Bil'in

Since January 2005, the Bil'in Popular Committee against the Wall, led by Iyad Burnat,[25] 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.[26][27][28][29][30] Some protesters took to wearing gas masks at the protests.[31] The weekly protests, which last a couple of hours, regularly draw international activists who come to support the Palestinian movement.[31] Undercover Israeli soldiers admitted in 2005 to throwing stones at other Israeli soldiers so they could blame it on Palestinians, as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians. [32]

Protesters throwing stones at Bil'in

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.[26]

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.[33] 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.[34]

Conferences demonstrating solidarity with the protesters were held in the village in February 2006 and April 2007.[35]

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.[36]

Freedom Street, in Bil'in village

In June 2008, European Parliament vice-president Luisa Morgantini and Julio Toscano, an Italian judge, were injured in Bil'in.[37] 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.[38][39]

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,[40] and tried before an Israeli military court which found him guilty, according to Amnesty International on 'questionable evidence,' of "organizing and participating in an illegal demonstration" and "incitement".[41] Testimony against him was based on allegations, subsequently retracted in court as having been made under duress, by three children that he had encouraged stone-throwing.[41] Desmond Tutu urged Israel to release him.[42] He was due for release on 18 November 2010, was kept in detention, and in January 2010 his year-long sentence was extended for another four months. He served a 15-month sentence in the Israeli prison of Ofer. He has been characterised by David Shulman as an exponent of Gandhian principles of non-violence.[43] +972 magazine chose him as their person of the year in 2010.[44]

On 15 March 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.[45]

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 its release at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Festival's World Cinema Documentary Directing Award.[46] It was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in the 85th Academy Awards.[47]

During Mohammed Barakeh's trial in 2012, undercover soldiers from the IDF testified that they had thrown stones against other IDF soldiers during Bil'in demonstrations.[48]

Deaths

Bassem Abu Rahmeh

On 17 April 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.[49]

His death is depicted in the 2011 film 5 Broken Cameras. B'tselem has stated that three separate videos of the protest in which he was killed show he had neither been acting violently, nor endangering Israeli soldiers' lives, when he was killed. Israel's military prosecutor general closed the investigation in September 2013 stating that there was a lack of evidence. The decision to close the case was appealed by two attorneys, Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man and Michael Sfard, on behalf of the family, who accused the authorities of foot-dragging. On 1 April 2015, Justice Menny Mazuz ruled the State had to submit its response to the petition by 25 May.[50]

Jawaher Abu Rahma

On 31 December 2010, Jawaher Abu Rahma (36) died following a weekly protest.[51] 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.[52][53] 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 Rahma 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 Rahma's death.[54] The IDF soldiers referenced in the stories remain unnamed.[55] 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.[56]

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."[57] However, an IDF spokesperson denied that Abu-Rahma died of medical negligence.[58]

References

  1. ^ a b 2007 PCBS Census Archived December 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.114.
  2. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 226
  3. ^ 'A decade of anti-wall struggle,' Al-Jazeerah 15 February 2015.:'Recently, one of the protest's main leaders, Abdullah Abu Rahmah, once again faced an Israeli military court where he was accused of "ideological crimes" for his role in organising the demonstrations. Under Israeli military law, any demonstration by Palestinians in the West Bank is illegal - whether nonviolent or otherwise. Abdullah has already spent 15 months in prison for organising "illegal demonstrations" and "incitement".'
  4. ^ Yael Marom, 'IDF: Palestinian nonviolent protest is an ideological crime,' +972 magazine 9 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b Finkelstein, 1997, p. 157
  6. ^ Guérin, 1869, p. 121
  7. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 144
  8. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 296
  9. ^ Barron, 1923, Table V, Sub-district of Gaza, p. 20
  10. ^ Mills, 1932, p. https://ia800304.us.archive.org/18/items/CensusOfPalestine1931.PopulationOfVillagesTownsAndAdministrativeAreas/PalestineCensus1931.pdf 19]
  11. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 66
  12. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 29
  13. ^ Neil Rogachevsky "Rent-a-Crowd Fridays in Palestine", the-american-interest.com, Nov–Dec 2010.
  14. ^ "Judges mend fences with village cut in two". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 September 2007. 
  15. ^ "Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Advisory Opinion". Cases. International Court of Justice. 9 July 2004. Archived from the original on 4 July 2004. Retrieved 2007-04-16. 
  16. ^ Asser, Martin (5 September 2007). "West Bank village hails victory". BBC News. BBC MMVII. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2007. 
  17. ^ New York Times report on Bil'in, nytimes.com, 5 September 2007.
  18. ^ Pfeffer, Anshel (22 June 2011). "Defense Ministry begins dismantling section of West Bank barrier". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 23 June 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2011. The Ministry of Defense has begun in recent days dismantling a section of the West Bank separation barrier near the village of Bil'in, four years after the High Court of Justice ruled that the barrier's route must be redrawn. 
  19. ^ a b c d "Planning council approves illegal West Bank building plan". Ha'aretz. 25 February 2007. Archived from the original on 16 November 2007. 
  20. ^ a b c "High Court: Controversial settlement neighborhood to remain in place". Ha'aretz. 5 September 2007. 
  21. ^ "High Court to hear Bil'in petition". Jerusalem Post. 31 July 2008. 
  22. ^ Khatib, Mohammed (20 September 2007). "Bil'in will continue to struggle against the wall and settlements". Zmag. 
  23. ^ Algazi, Gadi (July–August 2006). "Offshore Zionism". New Left Review. New Left Review. II (40). 
  24. ^ "Under the Guise of Security" (PDF). B'Tselem Behaymos. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  25. ^ "Contact Us". Friends of Freedom and Justice Bilin. 
  26. ^ a b "Soldier hit by stone during anti-fence protest loses-eye". www.haaretz.com. 3 June 2005. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  27. ^ "Hundreds mark second anniversary of Bil'in barrier". haaretz.com. 25 February 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2010. Demonstrators say their protests are non-violent, but in most cases soldiers fire tear gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets, and demonstrators have thrown stones. One soldier lost an eye to a stone thrown by Palestinians, and three Palestinians each lost an eye after riot-control actions. 
  28. ^ "22 wounded in weekly Bil'in anti-separation fence protest". haaretz.com. 20 March 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  29. ^ "Israel pays NIS 3.25 million to protester shot by Border Police". haaretz.com. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  30. ^ "Mass demonstration in Bil'in marks five years of protests against West Bank separation fence". haaretz.com. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  31. ^ a b [1], the-american-interest.com, Nov–Dec 2010.
  32. ^ Chaim Levinson, "Undercover Israeli combatants threw stones at IDF soldiers in West Bank", Haaretz, 7 May 2012.
  33. ^ A Divided Paradise: An Irishman in the Holy Land (New Island), David Lynch, Chapter One, Under Fire in Bil'in, pp. 1-31
  34. ^ Laub, Karin (16 May 2008). "Arab village's fence war wins some Israeli hearts". FOXNews.com. Retrieved 7 September 2008. 
  35. ^ "Bil'in Conference 2007". International Solidarity Movement against Israel. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  36. ^ "Nobel peace laureate Corrigan injured in anti-fence protest". Ynetnews.com. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  37. ^ BBC EU VIPs hurt at West Bank protest
  38. ^ "Palestinian killed in Bilin protest". Ynetnews.com. 20 June 1995. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  39. ^ "MEMORIAL: Remembering Bassem Abu Rahmah of Bil'in". 17 April 2010. 
  40. ^ Daniel Edelson (23 December 2009). "Bil'in resident charged with displaying used bullets". Ynetnews. Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  41. ^ a b "Israeli military court extends jail term for Palestinian anti-wall activist", Amnesty International, 11 January 2011.
  42. ^ Amira Hass (24 December 2009). "For Palestinians, possession of used IDF arms is now a crime". Haaretz. Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  43. ^ David Dean Shulman, "Salt march to the Dead Sea: Gandhi's Palestinian reincarnation", Harper's, June 2011 edition, page 78.
  44. ^ "+972 Magazine's Person of the Year: Abdullah Abu Rahmah", +972 magazine, 30 December 2010.
  45. ^ "Maan News Agency: Masked soldiers post closed zone signs in Bil'in, Ni'lin". Maannews.net. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  46. ^ "5 Broken Cameras". 
  47. ^ "2013 Oscar Nominees". Archived from the original on January 10, 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  48. ^ Chaim Levinson, "Undercover Israeli combatants threw stones at IDF soldiers in West Bank": testimony by commander of the Israeli Prison Service's elite 'Masada' unit sheds light on IDF methods in countering demonstrations against barrier, Haaretz, 7 May 2012.
  49. ^ McCarthy, Rory (17 April 2009). "Tear gas canister shot kills Palestinian demonstrator". The Guardian. London, UK. 
  50. ^ "Six years later, Abu Rahmeh family still fighting for justice", Ma'an News Agency, 11 April 2015.
  51. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (6 January 2011). "Israeli military and Palestinians clash over death of West Bank woman". The Guardian. London, UK. 
  52. ^ Goodman, Amy (4 January 2011), "Eyewitnesses Describe Death of Palestinian Woman in Israeli Tear Gas Attack", Democracy Now!: The War and Peace Report, retrieved 4 January 2011 
  53. ^ Garcia-Navarro, Lourdes (4 January 2011), "Activists Accuse Israel Of Cracking Down On Dissent", NPR, archived from the original on 24 January 2011, retrieved 4 January 2011 
  54. ^ IDF: No proof Palestinian woman died from tear gas at protest, haaretz.com; accessed 27 January 2016.
  55. ^ Kershner, Isabel (4 January 2011), "Debate Surrounds Death of Palestinian Woman", New York Times, retrieved 4 January 2011 
  56. ^ Karon, Tony (4 January 2011), "Israeli Leftists Show Alliance in Wake of Palestinian's Death", TIME, archived from the original on 6 January 2011, retrieved 4 January 2011 
  57. ^ Medical report on death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, ynetnews.com; accessed 27 January 2016.
  58. ^ IDF Spokesman denies Jawaher Abu Rahmah died of medical negligence, 972mag.com; accessed 27 January 2016.

Bibliography

External links