Bilin Fence 311.
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Foreign funding and not political fervor fuels the weekly protests by
Palestinians and activists against the Bil’in fence, the IDF charged on Sunday
in a press conference it held to mark the completion of the rerouted West Bank
barrier and the demolition of the old fence in that area.
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Bil’in have held Friday protests against the barrier since the IDF began
building it in 2005. No other West Bank village has rallied so long and so
consistently against the security barrier.
As a result, the Bil’in
rallies have come to symbolize Palestinian anger against the barrier throughout
the West Bank.
The old high-voltage fence separated farmers in Bil’in
from their land. The relocated barrier, which was just completed, placed 650
dunams (65 hectares) of farmland back on the Palestinian side of the
But it still left 1,300 dunams on the Israeli side. Villagers
have vowed to continue their rallies until the barrier is completely removed and
all their land is easily accessible to them.
Israel is building the West
Bank security barrier to protect its citizens from
Palestinians, however, say that the structure is designed to
deprive them of farmland and has little to do with security.
The IDF on
Sunday said that it understood that the relocated barrier would not affect the
protest movement in Bil’in against the structure.
“Protests here will
continue because there is a lot of money involved,” Binyamin Brigade commander
Col. Sa’ar Tzur said.
“For a long time this has not been a political or
diplomatic issue. They get money from foreign donors,” Tzur said, but he did not
provide any names of individual or organizational donors. He added that
teenagers were being paid to participate in the demonstrations.
Pollak of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, which helps organize the
Bil’in protests, rejected the IDF’s allegations as ridiculous.
who made the charge “receives a huge salary for shooting demonstrators,” Pollak
On Sunday, bulldozers, cranes and construction workers were busy
taking down the old barrier. As Tzur spoke, behind him a crane was busy stacking
sections of the fence.
Along the barrier section, which was the site of
the weekly protests, workers were busy getting ready to dismantle the wire fence
where the IDF had in the past fired tear gas and rubber bullets at
The demolition of the old fence and the construction of the new
wall, at a cost of NIS 31 million, was the result of a High Court of Justice
ruling in 2007 that the former route was illegal.
It took two years for
the IDF to provide the court with an acceptable route.
Only in February
2010 did the army begin work to reroute 1,700 meters of the high-voltage
Last week, the IDF began preparation work to remove that fence. On
Sunday, it began taking it down.
“We view it as an important political
victory, but it still is a whitewash for land theft.
will continue until the wall is dismantled entirely,” Pollak said of the removal
of the old barrier.