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It was quite an unusual sight: Israeli peace activists and Hamas militants, together with members of all the other Palestinian parties, marched last Friday side by side in a demonstration against the Fence in Bil'in.
"I see this as another sign that Hamas can be included in peace negotiations with Israel and that it is possible to get its agreement to the peace agreement that will be signed," Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom said.
This time, the demonstration was accompanied by music: dozens of Israeli and Palestinian activists dispersed along the Fence and beat with stones on an iron security railing that runs along it, producing a rhythm that could be heard for many miles, including the settlement Modi'in Illit that is being built on the land belonging to Bil'in.
Thousands took part in the demonstration, which also marked the climax of the Palestinian election campaign. Senior leaders of all the Palestinian parties marched at the head of the demonstration, in which almost 400 Israeli peace activists from all over the country participated. The colorful posters of the parties on the walls in the village added to the event.
In spite of the fact that this - like all the demonstrations in Bil'in - was non-violent, it was attacked with tear gas and stun grenades by the soldiers who had been waiting for it. However, many protesters succeeded in breaking through the line of soldiers and go round the Fence, at a place where its construction has not yet been completed. While this happened, much violence was used against them, demonstrators were beaten, kicked and thrown to the ground. Yonatan Pollack of "Anarchists Against Fences" was choked by soldiers and dragged on the stony ground.
Those demonstrators who succeeded in crossing the path of the Fence reached to famous "outpost" set up by the villagers on their land right next to the settlement. They waved posters saying "The Path of the Fence Serves the Real Estate Speculators" and "The Separation Fence - Armed Robbery". As is by now well-known, the real estate companies earn hundreds of millions from selling the stolen land. On February 1, the Supreme Court is going to decide upon the path of the Fence in this sector.
Several demonstrators were wounded and taken by Palestinian ambulances to a hospital in Ramallah. Several others were arrested but later released.