IDF declares West Bank protest villages a ‘closed military area’
Amira Hass reports in Haaretz on 15 March 2010 and the Magnes Zionist blogs on the topic below]
In arresting a demonstrator on Friday, police cited a military edict closing off the two villages, where weekly protests against the barrier Israel is erecting around the West Bank have often turned violent.
Bil’in residents told Haaretz that late on Friday night dozens of soldiers, some of them masked, deployed throughout the village to post notices of the order, signed on February 17 by the chief of army Central Command, Gen. Avi Mizrahi.The ruling, which will stay in force six months, applies to land that lies between the separation fence and built up areas in Bil’in.
In Na’alin, restrictions apparently cover the entire village, including residential areas.
For over five years the two villages have seen often violent, and twice fatal, clashes between activists and security forces during regular Friday demonstrations.
In the past year the IDF and the security service, Shin Bet, have tried a variety of tactics to end the protests, including mass arrests, night operations, restrictions on the movement of Israeli activists and the arrest of minors – prompting a military court to declare the measures inappropriate.
On Sunday a Bil’in activist, Iyad Burnat, was summoned for talks with Shin Bet officers, around an hour after sending out an emailed report of last week’s protests entitled “the third intifada [uprising] is knocking at the door”.
At the time of publication, the army had not yet responded to requests by Haaretz for information on the closures.
Stamping Out (Mostly) Non-Violent Protests at Ni’lin and Bil’in.
Haaretz is reporting that the IDF has declared the West Bank villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin closed military areas for the next six months – on Fridays from 8 am to 8 pm. The purpose – to stop once and for all the protests against the expropriation of village land for the construction of the Security Barrier (a.k.a. the Land Grab Wall). The closure applies to the area between the Security Barrier and the villages.
As everybody knows, these two villages have been the scene of mass protests, mostly non-violent, occasionally rock throwing (sometimes by IDF provocateurs). The IDF has arrested the leaders, harassed the Israelis who come there, sprayed stink juice on demonstrators, shot and killed protesters – and have not been able to stop the protests.
Of course, the IDF is only carrying out the government’s policy, and so ultimate responsibility lies with those rapacious government ministers who covet the expropriated lands for Jewish real estate development, etc. If Israel was really interested in security, they would build the fence within the green line, not on it or outside of it. Yet how much Jewish land has been expropriated for the Wall?
The weekly protests have also been the symbol of Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Palestinian-Foreign Human Rights activism. It made the Anarchists Against the Wall famous. And it has shown a new sort of struggle, where the Israelis are willing to play junior, subordinate roles, to the Palestinians.
By the way, the English translation of Amira Hass’s piece (or, more accurately, abridged adaptation, does not yet have the official reaction of the IDF. You can read that here. But note why the villages are being declared off-limits. It has nothing to do with the villagers themselves, but rather
To prevent outside agitators from arriving at the scenes of the disturbances…the military order applies to Israeli citizens, foreigners, and Palestinians who are not residents of these villages on Fridays between 8am to 8 pm….It is to be emphasized that this does not apply to the villagers who will be allowed free movement.
It sure reminds me of when the US federal government, during the Civil Rights movement, declared the South off-limits to those outside agitators from the North who came down to protest segregation.
Or am I misremembering?