JERUSALEM (JTA) — Work to change the route of the security fence near the Palestinian village of Bil’in, the site of weekly protests, is nearly complete.
The move, which will place more land under Palestinian control, will be completed in two months, the Israeli army said Wednesday. Israel’s Supreme Court had ordered the move nearly four years ago.
"We are fully applying the High Court decision and are returning the land to the residents of Bil’in," Lt. Col. Shahar Sheetrit said.
Sheetrit said that the Palestinians during the weekly demonstrations had complained that the work mandated by the court had not begun.
"Now they are seeing with their eyes that the planned work is being completed and that it is going to happen soon," he said.
The Israeli army said it does not expect the weekly demonstrations in Bil’in and the nearby village of Ni’lin, located west of Ramallah in the West Bank, to stop once the route is changed.
The Supreme Court’s 2007 decision required that a 1,860-yard-long portion of the security barrier be dismantled and that an alternative be built on a new route closer to the Israeli city of Modi’in Illit. The panel of judges found that the original route was designed to allow for the growth of Modi’in Illit and not for security reasons.
Weekly protests by Palestinians and left-wing activists against the security fence have taken place in Bil’in since 2007. Last December, a Palestinian protester died after inhaling tear gas sprayed during a demonstration.