by Libby Amit.
When the Israeli army declared the villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin closed military zones on Fridays all day for the next six months, many seasoned Israeli activists shrugged and said “big deal.” This military order does not reflect a major change in policy on the ground, the villages are generally declared closed zones for this time period, just not preemptively for six months. This does not mean that the order is no big deal. It is a powerful statement of intent, on the part of the Israeli army, to repress the joint Israeli-Palestinian struggle against the wall, settlements, and general occupation.
Given the fact that the on-the-ground policy has not changed this week, two of the main fears among supporters of the joint struggle were:
1. Activists and supporters would fall for the military’s fear tactics and stay away from this week’s demonstrations for fear of being arrested or worse,
2. In order to enforce the order, soldiers would simply not allow activists’ cars through checkpoints on the way to the villages.
But neither of these things happened.
As of this late morning, more activists than usual turned up for demonstrations in the West Bank – including 9 full cars to Bil’in, 2 cars to Nil’ln, one to Al-Ma’sara and one to the renewed demo site in Budrus. The Israeli activists were not dissuaded by the military order, they showed up in big numbers with the message: no military order is going to quiet this joint struggle. Not this week!
The cars set out earlier than usual, expecting to be stopped at checkpoints on the way to especially Bil’in and Ni’lin, some even chose to detour and use alternative routes to reach the villages. As of noon, all cars have reached their destinations and demonstrations are about to begin.
On the one hand, passing these two hurdles is a relief, on the other hand we must wonder how the Israeli military plans on enforcing this new military order if not at the checkpoints. They are not likely to allow demonstrations to continue as usual since this will mean admitting that nothing has changed.