Bil’in — After an Israeli Raid
August 3, 2009
Editors Note: At 3 AM on Monday, August 3, Israeli soldiers raided the village of Bil’in. They arrested seven villagers and one International. Our delegation arrived the afternoon of August 3 and spent the night with families in the village. Below are their reflections.
Also posted below are links to updates and an action alert calling for the release of the Bil'in detainees. Please check out the link below or click here to take action.
Delegation 31 Announcement
Report 1: Settlements
Report 2: Eric and Suheir
Report 3: Searching for Justice and
Report 4: Bil’in — After an Israeli Raid
Report 5: Experiencing Jerusalem Report 6: Final Reflections
Delegation 31 in Action!
Joy and Love Amidst Tension and Despair
It amazes me how joy and love manages to rise to the surface even in the situations of tension and despair.
When we stayed overnight at the Deheisheh Refugee Camp, we walked through the camp and saw where Israeli soldiers had smashed in walls and beat and killed people. We saw paintings on walls in remembrance of children killed by the soldiers on their nightly raids. Every single night in the camp there is tension--will the soldiers come again tonight?
And yet--the night we were there, there was music and dancing at the camp's social center. Joy amidst despair! Faith that even in the occupation, life could be good!
Yesterday, we arrived at the village of Bil'in -- a village regularly raided by the Israeli army. We spent the night in the homes of members of the Popular Committee of Bil'in Against the Wall. Israeli's apartheid wall built deep into Palestine has taken 60% of the land upon which the farmers of Bil'in depend for their existence. An Israeli court has ordered that the wall be moved and much of the land returned to Bil'in, but the army refuses to honor that order for "reasons of security." Israel may pretend to be democratic state, but this nation without a constitution is really a military state.
So the people of Bil'in, joined by supportive Israeli and international peacemakers, demonstrate at the wall each Friday. The army responds with great force--they have killed and seriously wounded several villagers.
In addition, many nights soldiers come into the village, just as they do in refugee camps, to terrorize the residents. The night before we arrived, at 3:00 am, over 200 soldiers came into the village and during a five-hour raid, they beat and arrested seven members of the Popular Committee.
On the evening we stayed in the village, we walked toward the wall and drew a quick reaction from the soldiers. They summoned additional reinforcements. They aimed their guns at us, and in English over a microphone told us we were in a security zone and if we didn't leave immediately they would "hurt us." We left.
Later that evening, I met my host family. They prepared a beautiful meal and the whole extended family gathered in the yard outside. There were grandmothers, aunts and uncles, and about 15 children. Even amidst the tension that came with the setting of the sun--will the soldiers come in the dark again--there was still conversation, laughter and joy. Twice we heard the army helicopters circling above, but the family celebrations went on.
As with the folks at the Deheisheh Refugee Camp, the villagers of Bil'in retain a tremendous joy even as they live under Israel's occupation. Israel may beat them, steal their land and treat them like animals - but the people of Bil'in continue to affirm life as they know that someday, when the U.S. closes its checkbook, they tyranny and oppression of the occupation will end.-- Jerry Stinson
Mayar Took Me by the Hand
Our overnight stay in the village of Bil’in was one of the most memorable and heart-wrenching experiences of this delegation. We not only spent the night with our host families, but by the end, we had forged new friendships. I spent the night at the home of Iyad Burnat, a coordinator of the Popular Committee in Bil’in and Friends of Freedom and Justice association. Due to the resistance practiced by the residents of Bil’in and spearheaded by the Popular Committee, Israeli military presence is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Bil’in has been subject to frequent army raids in the night for the past few months, and the night prior to our arrival seven members of the Popular Committee had been arrested. Iyad greeted us as a wanted man.
Despite the possibility of another raid looming over all of us that night, it did not impede Iyad, his wife Tesehil and their four lovely children, Majid, Abdul Khaled, Mohammed and Mayar from making us feel at home. Every time I heard a car go by outside the house, loud voices outside the doors or a door slam shut, a part of me considered the possibility of a raid. I was not concerned for myself but this family, which almost immediately had shown us kindness and hospitality in a way almost unheard of in the West.
I spent much of my time being dragged around by Mayar, Iyad’s two-year-old daughter. She picked a flower, proceeded to place it in my hair (she spent much time finding the optimal place), and brushed my hair back. I guess she felt compelled to give me a makeover. Much of our night was spent on the roof. Iyad himself left the house many times, his cell phone always in hand and constantly ringing. Staying in one place for too long was not an option for him, neither was sleeping. Other male members of the family joined us, as we smoked some shisha and chatted about our countries, our perspectives and other matters. Mayar took me by the hand (as she was in the habit of doing throughout the night), led me to a corner, sat me down, and gave me some sunflower seeds. In the dark we could see Iyad leaving the gate and walking up the hill. She said aloud in Arabic, “Daddy!” He turned back maybe once or twice, but didn’t respond. Mayar said something in Arabic, then, as she watched Iyad’s figure become gradually more amorphous with distance, she started to sing a prayer. As I sat there beside her, watching her, listening to her voice, I felt it had become my responsibility to protect her. I spent much of the night responding to her whims. We ate watermelon at two in the morning, had a tea party in her makeshift tent, took photographs of each other with my camera (she was not very impressed with my work I should add) and we played clapping games…
I was up on the roof until three in the morning, expecting the army to storm in the house and break the seeming normality of this household. I expected people who lived under circumstances like this to be constantly on the verge of a meltdown. But if I had not been informed of their precarious situation, I would have never guessed that this family has experienced the amount of trauma that they have due to the occupation. There is a word for this sort of resistance in Arabic: Sumud, or steadfastness. Despite the efforts of the army and occupation policies to make the residents of Bil’in feel as though they don’t belong here, to continue to live and assert the right to a normal life (that is being consistently denied by the authorities) is the most powerful form of resistance I have encountered on this trip.
The Price for Being the “Cutting Edge”
On to Bil’in, to Iyad’s and Tesehil’s house. We watched the protests that occur here every Friday here at the wall, on Iyad’s computer and learned that one of the protesters was killed (martyred) by a tear gas canister that was fired at close range. The IDF uses not only tear gas but rubber coated bullets and concussion grenades against the protesters. We learned that the night before the committee that Iyad serves on was raided in the middle of the night and seven members were arrested. Iyad is still at large. Bil’in seems to be on the cutting edge here in Palestine with the protests at the wall every Friday. If they protested every Friday in every village I think it would have a huge impact, not only here but world-wide. These protests in Bil’in have even made Fox News. They have also started night protests against the raids.
I made quick friends with Iyad and Tesehil’s son Mohammed. I gave him an Obama t-shirt that he was quite proud of and he strutted around the house with it on. Their two-year-old daughter Mayar (the queen of Bil’in) greeted everyone in the group upon arrival. We all walked down to the wall and met up with the IDF on the other side. They seemed quite agitated with our presence and after some time of loitering about they told us over loud speaker to disperse. We walked back through spent tear gas canisters and various military detritus. We went back to Iyad’s and divided up to go with our respective families. Me and five of our delegates stayed with the Bassam family for the night. We had a dinner of fish and chips which was brought up to the roof for us. We sat and talked with the family as best we could for an hour or two and went to sleep outside upstairs. In the morning, breakfast of pita, hummus, zatar, jibneh, maqlieh, and of course, tea. After saying goodbye to Iyad and his family, we took of for Ramallah.--Jeff Kipilman
Palestinian Freedom Fighters
No movement...no sign of the Israeli soldiers.
It is 2:00 a.m. and all is still as I look out over the village of Bil’in in Occupied Palestine.
A Muslim community of Palestinianfarmers...
From this rooftop I stand within range of the American financed guns and the bullets concealed in rubber.
Iyad and I speak of a hope...a future for his children.
His devoted wife cooks us a king's feast from a 2-coil hot plate and iron box of coals...
Iyad...his eyes are full of pain and courage.
Hours ago 200 Israeli soldiers invaded their village and arrested seven......
Iyad evaded capture - Iyad is a criminal in the eyes of the Israeli government...leader of the resistance against the Israeli Occupation...
We walked up to the barrier wall and the Israeli soldiers pointed a gun at us...
I hugged Christina....she has just been released from the Israeli jail for protesting in-the-steps of Rachel Corrie...
Eight Israeli militia...all men… had beaten her from the neck down....
Denmark has her story in their headlines....she weighs about 100-pounds...
Iyad speaks of Nelson Mandela and how to break this Israeli apartheid....
The sun rises again...who will die today....
Oh humanity...where have you gone...
Where is the justice...
Where are the American 'Freedom Fighters'.....
Where is our American Press Corps...
Where are the American Evangelical Christians.....
Where is our U.S. State Department
Where is U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Where is my U.S. President Barack Obama.....
Take action against suppression of Palestinian non-violent resistance in Bil’in
As of this writing, at least seven Bil'in villagers are known to be in Israeli custody. No charges have been levied. Among those arrested is Mohammed Khatib, a coordinator of the Bil'in Popular Committee and a leader of nonviolent resistance in Palestine/Israel. Bil'in's residents have requested support from individuals around the world. Please use the links below to take action:
- Action Alert from the International Solidarity Movement and Bil'in Residents (August 3)
- Update on Mohammed Khatib and the Six Detainees (August 7)
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