Bil'in demo 21.08.09

Today's demo did not evoke the usual aggressive response from the occupation forces. As the demonstrators arrived at the Apartheid Wall, the only visible two soldiers behind the Apartheid Wall remained in their shelter. One Jeep was parked to the left of the door in the Wall and one to the right. It was eerily quiet for quite some time. There was no reaction to the Palestinian chanting until suddenly a multiple of tear gas was fired into the crowd from an additional Jeep that had just arrived. This caused the usual discomfort to the protesters, but most of them remained in the front lines.

A few single tear gas canisters were being fired here and there while the protesters remained gathered for awhile. Some activists tried to open the gate which had been firmly locked by the occupation forces. Then, earlier than in previous weeks, the demonstration was called to an end and everyone returned to the village without incident.

Historically, today marks the 40th anniversary of the fire at the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Masjid al-Aqsa, opposite the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mound in Jerusalem. It had broken out in the early morning of 21. August 1969. This fire had destroyed priceless old wood in the southeastern wing of the mosque, known as the Noble Sanctuary, or Haram as-Sharif. Massive riots followed in the Arab sections of Jerusalem and in the territories followed the incident. Initially, Israel was accused of arson, but the day after the fire, it became evident that a non-Jewish Australian tourist, belonging to an evangelical sect, was responsible for it.

Thank you for you continued support,

Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee in Bilin
co-founder of Friends of Freedom and Justice - Bilin