Bil'in demonstrators return to outpost

Israeli, Palestinian anti-security barrier activists light candles together.

bilin protest 298.88 (photo credit: )
bilin protest 298.88
(photo credit: )
A group of 22 Israeli and Palestinian demonstrators lit Hannuka candles Sunday night at an illegal caravan erected for a second time near the West Bank settlement of Modi'in Elite. The lighting of the first candle at this spot, said Yossi Bartal, an activist from Anarchists against the Wall, represented "the fight for freedom from occupation." The group's choice in symbols was a provocative one given that the Maccabean revolt that Hannukah commemorates broke out in ancient Judean town of Modi'in. Likewise, the caravan was located adjacent to the new neighborhood of East Mattityahu, named after the rebellion's famed patriarch priest. But protesters contended that the victims nowadays were the Palestinian residents of the village of Bil'in, a half a kilometer away. The route of the security fence blocks villagers from their farm land and protects ever-expanding settlements, they said. "The barrier cuts off Bil'in from one-half to two-thirds of its agricultural land and is meant to protect the settlements of Kiryat Sefer and Modi'in Elite," said Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Ascherman, who heads Rabbis for Human Rights, a left-wing association that has also trumpeted the cause of Bil'in, said that the caravan was illegal - but so were the new settlement neighborhoods. Both were set up without government permits, he said. Last Thursday, about 50 activists barricaded themselves in a similar outpost at the same location, but soldiers removed the caravan, and police briefly detained seven demonstrators. The expansion in the East Mattityahu neighborhood went unhindered. "The quick evacuation of the first outpost, within 24 hours of it being set up, exposes the blatant policies of Apartheid and selective enforcement going on in the Occupied Territories," said Yonatan Pollack, another anarchist. Pollack promised that Sunday's caravan "will become the foundation stone for a West Bil'in." At the last outpost demonstration, soldiers fired tear gas to keep additional protesters from reaching the caravan, but this time around, a police and IDF jeep passed by without responding. Military sources said the outpost, like the last one, "would be removed by the police and the IDF Civil Administration." Elsewhere in the West Bank, an IDF post east of Tulkarm came under fire late Saturday night. There were no casualties.