A few more thoughts about my experience in Bil’in. First, I searched Google News for articles that talked about the demonstration and came up with the following links:
- The Electronic Intifada: Article from a Boise State University Professor
- Ynetnews: This is the first article that I saw, the one that mentions the Molotov cocktail.
I don’t know if some of these reporters were there or not, because there are some things that are simply not true that were reported.
First of all, I don’t know how any of the Israeli soldiers could have been injured, unless they let off some shock bombs at their feet, or if they breathed in too much of their own tear gas…I just don’t know. They were all wearing extremely protective helmets and had riot shields. So I was a bit confused at that.
But the most grievous mistake in the article was the mentioning of the Molotov cocktail explosive. In the Ynetnews article, they said the following: “Meanwhile, army officials said a Molotov cocktail was hurled by one of the protesters, marking the first such attack during an anti-fence protest in Bil’in.” Now, I cannot tell you what happened on the frontlines after I ran back up to the top of the hill, but I can tell you what I saw seconds before the shock bombs exploded at my feet and the tear gas began to enter my lungs. Just mere seconds before that, I looked up and saw a medium-sized rock over the Israeli army; that was the very last thing that I saw. Two of my other friends who were in the very front saw it actually hit the soldier’s helmet. And that was it. Then came the explosions, the tear gas and later, the rubber bullets. Again, I don’t know if later in the skirmish, maybe an explosive was thrown at the army. But that is besides the point; the articles states that the violence began because an explosive (a Molotov cocktail) was thrown into the Israeli army – and that is simply false; it did not happen. It’s pretty interesting to be present at an event, and then read news that is completely contrary to what you witnessed. I find that all very interesting.
The demonstration was to celebrate the one-year anniversary of that ICJ decision. They marched down to the area close to the Wall (where the IDF soldiers were waiting with riot shields) and chanted very things in Arabic. When they got down there, there was a conversation that took place, and then the Muslims prayed for the land that was being confiscated by the Wall being built on the land of Bil’in. If the Wall is completed around Bil’in, it will take over about 60% of the land of the small village. That is what the demonstration was about.
After about 45 minutes, there began some stone-throwing by Palestinian youth, and there were a few moments when we thought the demonstration would be over, and the Israeli army would begin the tear gas, but it wasn’t until the final rock hit the soldier that the tear-gas and shock bombs (or shock grenades, as some people are calling them). After that, it was mainly running…and more running from me. Here is one video that I was able to grab after running up to the top of the hill (video will be up soon). I will also be writing some more thoughts about the transition from the non-violent to violent demonstration that took place, and what I’m thinking about the stone throwing…