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Palestinians use bulldozer to ram Israeli fence
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An Israeli security force vehicle fires a water cannon containing a foul smelling substance at a bulldozer, driven by a Palestinian protester, during clashes at the site of a weekly protest against the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah, June 24, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman
By Ismail Khader
BILIN, West Bank |
Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:07am EDT
BILIN, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian protesters rammed a bulldozer Friday into a contested barrier near the village of Bilin, days after the Israeli army said it would finally comply with a court order and reposition the fence.
Israeli soldiers fired volleys of tear gas and jets of foul-smelling liquid to force the flag-waving demonstrators away from the metal fencing that keeps locals from their land.
Bilin, which lies about 25 km (15 miles) east of Tel Aviv, has become the focal point of protests against the controversial Israeli network of walls and fences that separates much of the occupied West Bank from Israel.
The Israeli military tore down a watchtower overlooking Bilin Wednesday and said they were ready to dismantle part of the fence, four years after the high court ruled it should be re-routed to give Palestinians greater access to farmland.
Palestinian leaders and activists descended on Bilin on Friday to celebrate the decision, but said the protests would continue because much of the land remained inaccessible.
"What the village of Bilin has got back because of the changing of the course of the wall represents less than half of the lands that were confiscated," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told Reuters television.
"This represents a backing down, and therefore this event has an important meaning ... but this can only end with the ending of the occupation along with its injustice, its settlements and walls," he said after attending midday prayers.
Israel has built a concrete wall several hundred meters back from the fence, which will take the place of the old barrier. But the original metal fence still stands and a few dozen protesters tried to tear it down using a yellow bulldozer.
The Palestinians, including one man in a wheelchair, made their way along a dirt track amidst olive trees and used a bulldozer to rip up a metal gate before being forced back by soldiers.
The cabin of the bulldozer was thick with tear gas as the driver struggled to retreat.
Israel started building its barrier, which is a mix of metal fencing, barbed wire and concrete walls, in 2002 following a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings.
The Israeli government calls it a "security fence" and says it is vital to protect Israeli lives. The Palestinians refer to it as an "apartheid wall" and say it amounts to a land grab, swallowing up swathes of ancestral farmland.
The World Court in The Hague said in 2004 that the proposed 720-km (430-mile) barrier was illegal.
At Bilin, the barrier curves 3 km (2 miles) inside the Green Line, established by a 1949 ceasefire, which divides Israel and the West Bank. It does so to ensure nearby Jewish settlements lie on the Israeli side of the barrier.
(Additional reporting by Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh; writing by Crispian Balmer; editing by Robert Woodward)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!
Jun 24, 2011 10:35am EDT -- Report as abuse
Watch soon for hysterical demands from Israel that Abbas should denounce ‘bulldozer terrorism’. Meanwhile illegal Israeli colonization of the West Bank continues. Nearly every sizable Palestinian community has an Israeli settlement located nearby, stealing farmland, water resources and road access among other things.
Jun 24, 2011 10:42am EDT -- Report as abuse
more senseless provocation by the Palestinians. Give us a break with this nonsense
Jun 24, 2011 10:49am EDT -- Report as abuse
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