International Solidarity Movement – 2004-04-11 16:58:03
BIDDU, NW JERUSALEM (April 4, 2004) — Today was the first day that the bulldozers were allowed to return to work on the apartheid wall in this area after nearly 5 weeks when no work was allowed because of the pending court case in the Israeli High Court.
At approximately 3:30pm two bulldozers accompanied by at least 7 jeeps, approximately 90 soldiers (mostly border police) as well as members of an anti-terrorism task force and a truck with a water canon attached to the top, arrived in Biddu and began bulldozing their land.
Immediately, a call for a demonstration was made in the mosques and people began to arrive at the work site.
About 150 Palestinians, as well as 7 internationals, and 4 Israelis came and peacefully confronted the soldiers. The soldiers cut off the road leading out of Biddu as well as occupied a partially-constructed home overlooking the worksite and surrounded the demonstration. Demonstrators attempted to negotiate with the soldiers at which time the soldiers showed a piece of paper declaring the area a closed military zone and threatened arrests.
‘I Know What You Are Saying Is True’
One activist, assigned the spokesperson for the village action, standing with his 12-year-old son, in face-to-face discussion with one heavily-armed soldier appealed to the soldier to refuse service in the Israeli Army, an army, through its actions creating divisions and hate.
“I raise my son not to hate — to love and respect all people; how do you feel standing here, forcing my son and all of our children to hate you by your actions?”
In the end, the soldier responded, “I know what you are saying is true, and you won’t see me here again.”
Peaceful Protest Met with Gas and Bullets
While the demonstrators slowly and peacefully moved towards the bulldozers with arms raised, the soldiers, equipped with full-body shields and in some cases plastic body armor over their arms and legs, refused to allow the Palestinians and their supporters to sit peacefully on their own land. Instead, the Israeli military fired an immense amount of tear gas and sound grenades, as well as rubber-coated steel bullets.
The Palestinians and their supporters scattered and then regrouped and again attempted to approach the bulldozers, but they were again attacked with tear gas and rubber- coated steel bullets.
At one point, the soldiers began firing tear gas at the entrance to a nearby home where there were over a dozen small children inside. A man attempted to exit the building with a small baby but found he could not get through the tear gas.
Internationals approached the soldiers and informed them that there were small children inside. They stopped firing gas near the home for a short time but then began again.
Another man who had been attempting to negotiate with the soldiers for some time was shot in the thigh with a tear gas canister while sitting with a group of approximately 10 men on the land from less than 15 meters away.
Boy Suffers Skull Fracture
Alaa Kan’an Mahmoud Badwan, 15 years old, a relative of Mohammed Badwan who was killed by the Israeli military during demonstrations in Biddu a month ago, was shot in the head by a tear gas canister (fired out of a gun) and is currently in the hospital in Ramallah with a fractured skull. Tomorrow he will be moved to a hospital in Jerusalem.
Three people were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, one in the leg and one in the stomach, as well as one international, Peter from Sweden, shot twice with rubber bullets in the back.
An Israeli was hit in the wrist with a tear gas canister and there were at least 8 other injuries caused by tear gas canisters being shot into crowds at close range and inhalation of that gas.
The Soldiers Leave; The People Dance
After two hours, the bulldozers and soldiers left as the Palestinians and their supporters refused to be dispersed by the use of violence on the part of the Israeli military.
As the dozens of soldiers and jeeps pulled out of the village, whistling, cheering, singing and dancing ensured, with Israeli peace activists being hoisted atop of shoulders.
“NO to the Wall, YES to peace!” and “Sharon, you murderer, you will see, the Intifada will set us free! (will prevail)”