Israeli army attacks weekly protests in West Bank while White House ‘hopes for peace’

Israeli soldiers have attacked the weekly non-violent protests against the Israeli West Bank Barrier, also referred to as the Annexation Wall, in the villages of Ni’lin and Bil’in. Many Palestinians and international peace activists were left to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation needing treatment by local medics.

Soldiers used gas bombs and concussion grenades against the protesters as they approached the wall’s construction site.

The marches started at the centre of the villages following afternoon prayers. Locals, Israelis and international activists chanted against the ongoing occupation with Palestinian flags and posters of detainees in the Negev camps.

12 years ago construction began for the Modi’in Illit settlement, seizing approximately 55% of Bil’in’s land over time. Modi’in Illit is estimated to have over 50,000 Israeli settlers and is therefore one of the largest in the West Bank.

Since 2005, protesters have gathered in Bil’in every Friday to demonstrate against the barriers route, and the village has become somewhat of a symbol of protest. This has lead to other villages speaking up and as a result, the Israeli army has stepped up its defence.

In a statement by the White House Press Secretary on Thursday, the Trump administration said that the building of new settlements or the expansion of existing ones in the West Bank ‘may not be helpful’ in achieving the goal of peace. “The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years,” it said. “As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region.”

The statement follows announcements by Israel that it plans to build 3,000 more settlement homes in the Palestinian Territories. It is expected to be one of the topics discussed when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits President Trump in two weeks time.

While the matter of the illegal settlements has reached the new US president and the European Union, attacks on Palestinian civilians still remain largely unnoticed by mainstream politics and media. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in the Jenin Refugee camp while 10 others, including 2 children, were wounded this week.

(Reporting and writing by Ceren Sagir/Kom News)