Yesterday, the Israel High Court of Justice ordered the government to reroute a section of its separation barrier that had split the West Bank village of Bilin from much of its farmland.
The panel of three judges ruled unanimously that a mile-long section of the barrier should be redrawn and rebuilt in a â€œreasonable period of time.â€ Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote in the ruling, â€œWe were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bilin’s lands.â€
About 500 acres of the villagers’ farmland had been rendered difficult to access as a result of the construction of the security barrier. Two years ago, the local council hired prominent Israeli human rights lawyer, Michael Sfard, to petition the High Court on their behalf. This is of course, not the first time that such a petition has met with success. The situation in Bilin is particularly noteworthy due to the weekly protests held there by “a band of Israeli far-leftists and foreign supporters.” These “non-violent” vigils have often ended in violent clashes with Israeli security forces.
Jonathan Pollack, of Anarchists Against the Wall, an Israeli group that participated in the protests, said the decision â€œproved that the people, when they choose to act, have the power over Israeli institutions.â€
It’s kind of odd that Pollack would attribute any aspect of this victory to his group’s actions. The judgment of the High Court makes no reference to the activities of the anarchists. The victory did not come about due to the weekly, often violent “vigils.” The victory did not come about because of name calling and rock throwing. It came about due to the hiring of lawyers and due to the enforcement and application of Israeli law. The anarchists did not win anything here. The rule of law did.