21 Jun 2011
Israeli army Begins Dismantling the Wall in Bil'in

Six years into the weekly protests and nearly four years after the high court declared the path of the Barrier illegal; the army began dismantling the Wall in the village of Bil'in. But even according to the new path 435 acres of village land will remain behind the fence.

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This morning army bulldozers began work to dismantle the fence in Bil'in. As early as 2007, after two years of weekly protests in the village and following a petition filed by the residents, Israeli high court declared the path of the Barrier illegal. The court ruled that the route was not devised according to security standards, but rather for the purpose of settlement expansion. Despite the high court's ruling four more years of struggle had to elapse for the army to begin dismantlement. During these years two people were killed in the course of the weekly protests and many others injured.

Yet even according to the new path, sanctioned by the high court, 435 acres of village land will remain on the "Israeli" side of the Barrier.

Mohammed Khatib of the village's popular committee said in response "On the ground, nothing has changed yet. All we know is that although the Israeli court officially pronounced our claims to be just, the army continued to protect the original route shooting and arresting protesters, thereby completely ignoring the ruling. We will continue to struggle until all the land is returned to our people and until we see an end to the Israeli occupation."

Although on 4 September, 2007, the high court ordered the state to come up with an alternative path for the existing Barrier in Bil'in within a reasonable period of time, many months elapsed and no new plan was offered. On the 29.05.08 the residents filed a petition to hold the state in contempt of the court due to this delay. In response to the petition, the state offered an alternative path. However, the plan failed to comply with the high court's ruling as the proffered path left a large area designed for settlement expansion on the "Israeli" side of the Barrier. The only difference between the two paths being that the latter offered to award 40 acres of land back to the residents.

A second petition claiming the alternative path not in accordance with court ruling was then filed. On 3 August 2008 the court declared that the first alternative path indeed fails to adhere to the ruling. The court ordered the state to come up with another alternative path.

On 16 September 2008 the state offered a second alternative path. This path also left a large area designed for settlement expansion on the "Israeli" side, offering to return a100 acres of village land to the residents. A lawyer for the residents asked that the state be held in contempt of the court for violating a court ruling for the second time.

On 15 Decemebr 2008 the high court ruled that the second alternative path was not in accordance with the original court ruling.

In April 2009 the state offered a third alternative path which left most of the area destined for settlement expansion on the "Palestian" side of the Barrier, thereby returning to the village 150 acres of 490 acres annexed by the original path.