This week, the Israeli Army declared the villages of Bil’in and Na’alin closed military zones from 8am-8pm on Fridays for the next six months. It was announced that any Israeli activist in the villages during those hours would be arrested, foreigners would be deported, and Palestinians from other villages would be jailed.
For over five years now, Fridays have been demonstration days, when Israeli and international activists join Palestinian protesters in their efforts to stop the Wall and regain their land. Apparently there is nothing scarier than unarmed resistance, since as the movement has strengthened and spread to other villages, the Army has gone to greater and greater lengths to stop it.
At first it merely included the usual array of tear gas, rubber bullets, “stinky” water and regular lethal and near-lethal shootings (23 Palestinian deaths since the protests began, half of them minor children). Then it escalated to night raids and arrests on trumped up charges. When the protests, and international support, continued to grow, this newest tactic was announced.
Today in Haaretz, an editorial entitled “IDF vs. Democracy” appeared, which strongly denounces the military order as a “seriously anti-democratic move.” Not to mention seriously desperate.
Meanwhile, protesters intend to continue their demonstrations. Tomorrow, March 19th, is the first Friday that the new order will be in effect.
JVP is partnering with activists on the ground so we can get live updates of what happens. If you’re on twitter, follow @jvplive for live updates. Look for the hashtag #israelidemocracy? . We’ll be recapping and updating regularly here at theonlydemocracy.org too.