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Israeli forces suppress Bilin march commemorating killing of Palestinian woman

Dec. 30, 2016 6:27 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 31, 2016 9:52 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces Friday suppressed a march in the village of Bilin in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah commemorating the 52nd anniversary of what is officially recognized as the start of the Palestinian revolution and the fifth anniversary of the death of Palestinian woman Jawaher Abu Rahma who died after suffering tear gas inhalation during a march in the village in 2011.

Palestinians, international supporters, and Israeli peace activists all participated in the march, organized by the popular resistance committee as part of their weekly demonstrations, to commemorate the two events.

Jan. 1, 1965 has been officially recognized as the start of the longstanding Palestinian revolution against Israeli colonization of Palestinian lands, refugee rights, and the ensuing Israeli occupation, now entering its 50th year. The year was marked by the founding of the Fatah national party and the first Palestinian attack on Israeli military targets.

Meanwhile, Rahma, 36, attended one of Bilin’s weekly marches in 2011. Israeli forces fired tear gas into the crowd of demonstrators, causing Abu Rahma to collapse. She was rushed to the hospital and died the next morning. Her brother, local activist Bassem Abu Rahmah, had also been killed at a weekly demonstration in Bilin in 2009 after he was struck in the chest by a high velocity tear gas canister.

Protesters held up Palestinian, Venezuelan, Malaysian, and New Zealand flags, all countries which co-sponsored UN resolution 2334 against Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territory, which passed last week, sparking a political uproar in the Israeli government.

Protesters also held up pictures of Abu Rahma, as they marched through the village’s streets and shouted national slogans and songs calling for national unity, resistance against the Israeli occupation, and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Once demonstrators arrived near Israel’s separation wall, Israeli soldiers stationed behind the wall and a nearby watchtower took pictures of the protesters, and demanded that they leave what the soldiers called a “closed military site.”

However, it was unclear what crowd control methods were used by Israeli forces to suppress the march. Typically Israeli forces shoot tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets during Bilin’s weekly demonstrations in order to break up the march.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports.

In November, Israeli forces had declared the area near the separation wall a military zone during a similar protest in order to prevent protesters from coming near the area around the Israeli military outpost.

Ratib Abu Rahma, the media coordinator of the popular resistance committee in Bilin, told Ma’an that the committee would “stay faithful” to its principles of popular resistance as long as the Israeli occupation and settlements remain.

He also called upon all Palestinian national parties and the Palestinian people to expand their popular resistance against Israeli activities in all districts of the occupied Palestinian territory.

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