Dec. 4th

Today we attended one of Bel'in's weekly demonstrations against the wall. Although the official delegation is over, Mohammed invited the remaining members to Bel'in.

After arriving in the village we joined a meeting of local residents and international activists who were discussing the significance of the protests. The protests have been held at least once per week since February 2005, as a means of preventing the construction of the apartheid wall around Bel'in and of opposing the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

Following this meeting, and before the demonstration, we got a chance to speak with a few of our fellow participants. Of the demonstrators a handful were Israeli (some anarchists), about 30 were Palestinians, and about 50 were internationals like ourselves. One Israeli anarchist that we spoke with, who had recently resigned from his army service, told us that the few Israelis who oppose the occupation are stigmatized within their communities. It was inspiring to see the Israelis who attended, as well as the sheer fearlessness of local residents who refuse to be silenced. Risking injury and death, we marched.

Once the protest began, we all marched towards the occupation. Those in the front were shouting chants in Arabic over bullhorns. Several French activists were wearing tshirts with the slogan "from Berlin to Bel'in, the wall shall fall."

At the fence, the IDF soldiers were waiting for us. As the demonstrators marched closer, the soldiers began shooting tear gas cannisters and firing rubber bullets. Several Palestinian children began throwing stones at the soldiers, who fired tear gas back in response. The children dodged the canisters then went back to throw more stones.

The protest lasted about an hour. None of us could escape the burning tear gas, which came at us in a constant stream accompanied by the loud "boom" of the canister launcher. It burned our lungs, and eyes.

The protests at Bel'in must be seen to be believed, as the inhumanity of the occupiers is difficult to fathom. Fortunately no one was injured, arrested, or killed today, but there have been many injuries, arrests, and even a few deaths as the IDF have been know to fire live ammunition at the children throwing stones, and the rubber bullets can scarecely be considered "nonlethal" as they have killed and seriously injured protestors in the past.


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