Activists appeal order sealing security barrier areas

Anarchists Against the Wall rep tells 'Post' move an attempt to stop Friday demonstrations in Ni’lin and Bil’in.

By
March 15, 2010 13:56
2 minute read.
A Palestinian holds a green Islamic flag as he run

niilin protester 190. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Activists have asked the Military Advocate-General’s Office to cancel an IDF order issued on Monday that declares the area around the West Bank security barrier, near the Palestinian villages of Ni’lin and Bil’in, a closed military zone until August, off limits to nonresidents of the villages.

“This is a cynical use of the [army’s] power and authority to quash and further infringe on the already volatile right of protest in the occupied territory,” Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak of Anarchists Against the Wall said.

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He told The Jerusalem Post he believed the IDF order was an attempt to stop the Friday demonstrations in those villages against the barrier.

Tel Aviv attorney Gaby Lasky, who represents the activists, said the army’s order was illegal because it was “encompassing” and because of the extended time period.

It infringes on the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of demonstration, she said.

The IDF said in response: “Violent and illegal riots take place in the area of Ni’lin and Bil’in on a weekly basis, during which members of the security forces are wounded and heavy damage is caused to the security fence and to public property.

“In an effort to prevent the inciters of these riots from reaching the area in which the riots take place, three weeks ago, OC Central Command Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi signed an order designating the area between the fence and the villages of Ni’lin and Bil’in as a closed military zone,” the army said.

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“The order applies to Israeli, Palestinian and foreign nationals who are not residents of the villages, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Fridays, and will remain in effect for six months. It should be noted that the order does not apply to residents of the village, who will continue to be free to move about as they please,” the IDF said.

With the help of Israeli and foreign activists, Palestinian have been demonstrating in Bil’in since 2005 and in Ni’lin since 2008.

Pollak said the demonstrations were largely peaceful and that the army had fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades at the demonstrators and in some cases live ammunition.

Five demonstrators in Ni’lin and one in Bil’in have been killed by IDF fire, either live ammunition, a tear gas canister or rubber bullets, according to Pollak. He added that hundreds have been injured, and in Ni’lin 40 people were hit by live ammunition.

The villages of Ni’lin and Bil’in, located near Modi’in Illit, learned of the closure before dawn on Monday, when soldiers entered the village and posted notices.

Protests will take place as usual this Friday, Pollak said, as “Palestinians do not recognize the legitimacy of the decree or the authority of the commander to issue such a decree.”

Palestinians object to the barrier that cuts them off from agricultural land. Israeli is building it to prevent suicide bombings.

In February, as the result of a court case, the IDF began rerouting 1,700 meters of the barrier, to return 650 dunams (65 hectares) of land to the farmers in Bil’in. Roughly 1,300 dunams of private farmland remains on the “Israeli side” of the barrier.

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