Earlier this month, a large group of Meretz activists from the party’s “Forum to Fight the Occupation” took part in the weekly demonstration in the Palestinian village of Bil’in against the route of the security barrier. This demonstration took place a week after the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who became seriously ill after inhaling tear gas fired by IDF forces at a Bil’in protest. The village, supported by Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, is protesting the construction of an Israeli settlement, Mattityahu East, on part of Bil’in’s land, and the route of the barrier, which separates the village from a majority of its farmland.
Attorney and senior Meretz activist, Yifat Solel, reports: “A large number of Meretz members, led by Mossi Raz, the chair of the party Executive, came to Bil’in – most of them for the first time – to take part in the weekly demonstration, which was larger than usual. Taking part, in addition to ‘Anarchists against the Wall’ who have been in Bil’in each week for the past six years, were ‘Combatants for Peace’ and ‘Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity’.
“The army blocked the way to Bil’in, so we were forced to stop quite a distance from the village and go by foot: Walking across a mountainside isn’t easy, and we had among us a few senior demonstrators … who came through with flying colors.
“It’s hard to call it a ‘demonstration’ … The army doesn’t allow people to demonstrate. The minute the demonstrators begin to approach the fence, the army employs means of dispersal. On this occasion, the primary implement of destruction was the ‘Boashit’ [“boash” in Hebrew means skunk] – a vehicle that sprays foul-smelling water, whose odor remains on one’s clothing and skin for days. A cloud of stench covers the entire area, for miles around.
“Right afterward comes the teargas. That week, the amounts were much smaller than in previous weeks, than the week in which Jawaher died. Even the relatively small amount permeates the village… The gas caused the chair of the Meretz forum, Erez Krispin, to lose consciousness and he required medical treatment.
“After the demonstration was dispersed, we paid a visit to the grieving family. Latif Dori offered condolences in Arabic and Galia Golan offered moving remarks in Hebrew.”