In Context

The Palestinian village of Bil'in is located in the central West Bank, 12 kilometers (7.45 miles) west of Ramallah, Palestine's de facto capital city, and 4 kilometers (2.49 miles) inside the "Green Line" that divides the West Bank from Israel proper. The majority of residents of Bil'in are Muslim, and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports a population of approximately 1,800. The land is about 988 acres in size, and the residents depend on agriculture as their main source of income.

Construction of the security barrier in the Bil'in area began in 2005, and since then approximately 55 percent of Bil'in's former land has been used for the construction of the Modi'in Illit settlement. With more than 50,000 residents, it is one of the largest and fastest growing settlements in the West Bank.

Every Friday since 2005, protesters have gathered in Bil'in for demonstrations against the barrier's route, making the village a symbol of resistance. Protesters have included the village's Popular Resistance Committee, as well as international and Israeli peace activists. Other villages followed Bil'in's lead, staging demonstrations as the barrier approached. In response, the Israeli army stepped up its defense.

Hundreds of protestors have been arrested since the demonstrations began, and dozens of protesters and Israeli security officers have been injured. While the protesters claim their demonstrations are nonviolent, some supporters of the barrier disagree. In 2010, the Israeli military declared the area a closed military zone in an attempt to stop demonstrations, effectively banning non-residents from the village.

In June 2011 the Israel Defense Forces began a relocation of the security barrier due to the 2007 Israel Supreme Court ruling that ordered settlement construction to halt and the barrier to be rerouted back toward Israel on state land. The new route was moved closer to the "Green Line" (Israel's boundary prior to the 1967 Six-Day War), restoring some of Bil'in's land. 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) of the barrier (in the form of a barbed wire fence) were replaced with a 3.2-kilometer (1.9-mile) concrete wall.

The Israel Defense Forces report that the relocation cost Israel $7.5 million, and another $1.5 million will be required to make the restored land suitable for agriculture.

Approximately 320 acres of land still remain west of the relocated barrier, in the Modi'in Illit settlement. Protests continue.

» BBC News. "Guide to the West Bank Barrier."
» Bil'in, a Village of Palestine. "Bil'in to Welcome Members of Shministim at Friday Demonstration."
» FRONTLINE World. "Israel: The Unexpected Candidate."
» Greenberg, Hanan. "IDF Takes Down Bilin Fence." YNet News, June 22, 2011.
» Harris, Emily. "A Decade in the Making, West Bank Barrier is Nearly Complete." National Public Radio, May 22, 2013.
» Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Israel, the Conflict and Peace: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions."
» Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Popular Resistance Committees."
» Pfeffer, Anshel. "Mass Demonstration in Bil'in Marks Five Years of Protest Against West Bank Separation Fence." Haaretz, February 21, 2010.