Bil’in is a Palestinian village located 12 km west of Ramallah in the West Bank. According to a 2007 census, the village is home to 1800 people. When Israel began constructing the separation barrier in 2003, it soon became clear that most of the village’s agricultural lands would be on the other side of the barrier and therefore inaccessible to their owners. In 2005, a local committee was formed in order to organize protests against the land annexation and settlement expansion, as Modi’in Ilit, the closest settlement, was rapidly growing at the expense of Bil’in’s lands.
The popular committee launched the first weekly Friday demonstration in January 2005, and over the years, many Israeli and international activists have joined the marches to the site of the wall. In 2007, the court ordered the Israeli government to change the route of the wall, which was finally implemented in 2011, though large tracts of land owned by Bil’in residents remained over the wall.
The Israeli army responded to the weekly protests with massive raids and arrests of local activists, as well as tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, “skunk” water and even live rounds fired at protesters. On April 17, 2009, Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed when an IDF soldier fired a tear gas canister at his chest. His sister, Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, was killed December 31 2010 from inhaling of tear gas fired at the village.