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As Black Lives Matter activists join Bilin demo, Israeli forces detain 2 protesters

July 29, 2016 9:44 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 29, 2016 5:09 P.M.)
(Photo: Black Lives Matter Facebook page)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Friday arrested two activists as they dispersed the weekly protest in the village of Bilin in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces detained two protesters, identified as Hamzah Ghazi al-Khatib,17, and Palestinian solidarity activist Inad Leaf -- whose nationality remained unidentified -- and took them to an unknown destination.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into reports.

Bilin has long been one of the most active villages in peaceful organized opposition against Israeli policies, as residents have protested every Friday for 11 consecutive years, and are often met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades from Israeli forces.

Protesters on Friday held pictures of the three members of the Dawabsha family, commemorating the victims who were killed nearly one year ago when extremist Israeli settlers firebombed their home in the village of Duma near Nablus, leaving then four-year-old Ali Dawabsha as the only survivor.

Residents of the village were joined in solidarity by international and Israeli activists, including several activists from the Black Lives Matter movement, a social and racial justice and equality movement which began in the United States in response to numerous "extrajudicial killings" of black Americans by police officers and civilians, and aims to work "for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise."

Many within the movement have found a common struggle with Palestinian resistance to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territory and their human rights abuses against the Palestinians, particularly as Israel has been the target of widespread international condemnation for what has been labeled by critics as a “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians since a wave of unrest began last October, during which more than 200 Palestinians have been slain by Israeli forces, many of whom in apparent "extrajudicial executions" when they posed no threat.

In a statement on the official Black Lives Matter Facebook page, the group posted a picture of activists holding up Palestinian flags and signs of solidarity at the protest.

"In the fight for dignity, justice and freedom, the Movement for Black Lives is committed to the global shared struggle of oppressed people, namely the people of occupied Palestine and other indigenous communities who for decades have resisted the occupation of their land, the ethnic cleansing of their people, and the erasure of their history and experiences," the statement said.

The statement concluded with the Black Lives Matter activists committing to "global struggle, solidarity, and support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement to fight for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinian people and to end international support of the occupation."

Friday's protest was not the first time justice activists from the Black Lives Matter movement visited Palestine or expressed solidarity with its people.

A group of activists, including prominent American journalist Marc Lamont Hill, from the movement released a video in January 2015, which was filmed in Nazareth in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against "Israeli apartheid."

The video was filmed at the conclusion of a ten-day tour by representatives of groups associated with Black rights and racial justice including the Dream Defenders, Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter, and activists associated with the Ferguson movement against police brutality.

Referencing cities in the United States which have become the focal points of protests and justice movements after repeated shootings of unarmed black men, the activists said in the video that "we come here and we learn laws that have been cosigned in ink but written in the blood of the innocent and we stand next to people who continue to courageously struggle and resist the occupation, people continue to dream and fight for freedom, from Ferguson to Palestine the struggle for freedom continues."

The delegation also held an event in solidarity with the Black struggle in the US at Birzeit University in Ramallah in December 2014.
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