At Electronic Intifada, Joseph Dana writes:
“I am in shock, we are in shock,” Hamde Abu Rahmah told me as we stood outside the small cemetery in Bilin where 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah was buried on Saturday. One day earlier, on 31 December, Jawaher was killed after inhaling US-made tear-gas fired by Israeli soldiers at demonstrators in the occupied West Bank village. Jawaher’s brother Bassem was killed by Israeli occupation forces in a similar manner in 2009.
“We simply did not think that this would happen. We deal with tear-gas on a regular basis but the amount that they used and the strength was something we have not yet seen,” continued Hamde, Jawaher’s cousin who has reported on and photographed Bilin’s regular demonstrations against Israel’s wall and occupation since 2008.
Friday’s demonstration, on New Year’s Eve, was enormous. Over 1,000 people — Palestinians, Israelis and internationals — joined villagers in Bilin to call for an end to Israel’s wall. Israel tried to stop the demonstration before it even began by creating a ring of military checkpoints on roads encircling the village to prevent non-villagers from attending. However, their strategy failed as hundreds of activists trekked through the rolling hills to reach the village.
Even prime minister of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, briefly joined the demonstration leading from the village center to the area of the wall. How Fayyad reached the village and why he left so quickly was unclear to everyone, some joked that the soldiers let him through the checkpoints because they consider him a Zionist.