Bil’in is a village 12km from Ramallah which has become a symbol for Palestine’s popular resistance. It is internationally known for its weekly demonstration against the occupation and the separation barrier, which takes place on Freedom Street.
This road, lined with information boards and memorials to martyrs, runs through an area where Israel had planned to construct the wall until a campaign by villagers succeeded at the High Court. However, follow Freedom Street to the end and you will be see just how limited that freedom is. There awaits an image that encapsulates in one frame what is happening to Palestine. The road grinds to a halt in front of the menacing separation wall, topped with barbed wire, and behind it cranes are busy at work constructing a brand new illegal Israeli settlement on land that belongs to Bil’in village. It is hard to stomach, but important for visitors to understand the realities of living under the Israeli occupation.
The protests have now been running a decade, and many foreign nationals attend them to show their support for the Palestinian cause. The IDF is always on hand with tear gas, and occasionally rubber bullets, to stop protesters getting to the wall.
For Bil’in’s residents, life must go on though. There are several shops in the village, which is traditionally agricultural, as well as a charming historic core surrounding the old mosque.
Population: 1,701 (2007)