July 25, 2010

Israeli soldiers detain former European Parliament Vice President at nonviolent protest


Luisa Morgantini MEP
By CECILIA GENTILE
 
WEST BANK - Luisa Morgantini, former vice president of the European Parliament, was arrested by the Israeli army in Bil'in, West Bank, 17 kilometers away from Ramallah, while attending a peaceful demonstration against the separation wall. Five other activists of various nationalities were arrested with her too. One was in a wheelchair. Morgantini was released after an hour.

Every Friday since 2005, the people of Bil'in protest the construction of the wall with a peaceful march from the village to the site of the barrier. A march that has become the occasion of solidarity and participation by peace activists from around the world, who are always present at the demonstration.

Israeli soldiers repeatedly fired tear gas, triggering panic and tension among the demonstrators, and forcing many of them to disperse. Morgantini instead remained at the forefront along with other peace activists, while the Israeli army was approaching.

"60% of our land is on the other side of the wall - said Mohammad Khatib, coordinator of the Popular Nonviolent Resistance - A huge settlement of 45 thousand settlers has been built next to our village, and continues to grow. We started our popular nonviolent struggle when the bulldozers arrived to uproot our olive trees". "The Israeli soldiers shoot not only tear gas - continues Amira Mohammed, coordinator of the nonviolent Committee of Nalin, a village 12 km from Tel Aviv - but also rubber bullets that can kill. So far five people have died. 


International media were present at this week's Bil'in protest

As on numerous occasions in the past, Morgantini is engaged these days in a visit to the Palestinian Territories and Israel in order to reach the members of her group "Peaceful Resistance against the Occupation”. The group’s objective is "keeping the way open for a just peace, for freedom and self determination of the Palestinian people and for coexistence between the two peoples". In the coming days, her group will be in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Hebron. A stop in Gaza proved to be impossible to achieve because - she said - "we did not get permission."

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