Wednesday, March 22, 2006


John - King of the Bil'in outpost

Last Fridays Bil'in protest was significant in a few ways. The soldiers were certainly rougher then usual but the main reason the day was so special was that the village of Bil'in were saying thank you and farewell to my friend John. John has been in Palestine for two months this trip. However unlike most ISMers who move around. John has chosen to spend his entire 2 months living in the 3x3 meter room we so endearingly call the outpost.

Apart from a few days off and the occasional trip into Bil'in to have a shower, John has been hanging around with the kids of Bil'in who visit and getting to know the local wildlife. He even had a little pet mouse until one of the young people in the village killed it (they didn't realise it was his pet and quickly tried to replace it). John new every inch of the outpost and the surrounding area. He had made it his home, having renovated it with a door, storage system etc.

Algazera heard about Johns story and came to John's final Bil'in demonstration to do a documentary about John the 37 year old from Ireland who slept in a shed. We marched down from the village carrying a wall made out of an iron frame and Styrofoam. We used this mock wall to try and get to the real wall and the police responded with absolute violence. They hit us and pushed us around breaking my camera (this and the next post could be the last pictures on my blog that you see, sorry). Finally the soldiers just maintained a fairly thin line in front o the demonstration.

The soldiers tried to declare the area (Bil'in land) a closed military zone and instructed the demonstration to move back. However they were unsuccessful. And we continued to protest. Because the demonstration was out in the open moving around or occasional through the soldier line was easy. Many of us moved to the wall and started hitting a small fence in front of the wall with stones. The soldiers would then come to drag us back one by one, but more of us kept coming (as well as the original people coming back).

The rally ended on a high with the people of Bil'in carrying John in the air and handing him a plaque from the Bil'in Popular Committee. The village chanted John's name and it looks like one of the outposts will now be named after him.

So if you want a camping holiday, learn some Arabic with a wonderful community and become a local legend, come to Bil'in there is still an unnamed outpost.

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