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Bilin protest marks 9 years of resistance

Feb. 28, 2014 11:25 P.M. (Updated: March 2, 2014 11:46 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Protesters in Bilin marked the ninth anniversary of the popular struggle against the wall with a march through the central West Bank village on Friday that was violently dispersed by Israeli forces.

Israeli forces opened fire on marchers as they approached the wall as it passes near the village, injuring four protesters with rubber-coated metal bullets and detaining one.

During the march, protesters climbed the separation wall and raised Palestinian flags atop it.

Protest organizers said in a statement that nine years after first beginning their weekly marches to protest Israeli land confiscation, they were determined to continue.

They added that they would continue their weekly marches and their struggle against the occupation until the "liberation of all lands confiscated from the village and the liberation of the occupied Palestinian lands."

Marchers were joined by numerous political figures from major Palestinian political parties, as well as leaders and activists from the popular resistance movement from across the West Bank.

The protesters wounded during the march were identified as: Talha Abd al-Sattar, 22, hit by a rubber bullet in the thigh, Ahmad Abu Rahma, 20, hit by a rubber bullet in the back, Ashraf al-Khatib, 34, hit by a rubber bullet in the back, and Muhammad Nasser Burnat, 14, hit by a rubber bullet in the leg.

The detained individual was identified as Sameh Ataya.

Dozens of international and Israeli peace activists suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during the march.

The march marked the ninth anniversary of the resistance movement in Bilin, which has been ongoing since February 2005.

Since then, weekly protests by residents have managed to force Israeli authorities to return 1200 dunams (300 acres) of their lands that had been confiscated by Israeli forces when they built the separation wall.

Since 2005, two local residents, Bassem Abu Rahma and Jawher Abu Rahma, have died as a result of injuries sustained by Israeli forces' attacks on the marches.

Additionally, organizers say around 1000 have been injured, and 200 detained.

Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path. Israel has regularly confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall.

When the 435-mile barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and "tantamount to annexation."
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