Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 17:26 UK

EU VIPs hurt at West Bank protest

Protesters dodge tear-gas canisters in Bilin (6 June 2008)
Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the authorities to reroute the barrier at Bilin

European Parliament Vice-President Luisa Morgantini and the Irish Nobel laureate, Mairead Corrigan, have been injured at a protest in the West Bank.

An Italian judge, Julio Toscano, was also hurt when Israeli troops fired tear gas to disperse the demonstration against the West Bank barrier in Bilin.

He suffered head wounds when he was hit by one of the tear-gas canisters.

The incidents came on the last day of an international conference supporting local protests against the barrier.

In September, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the government to redraw its route near Bilin, accepting an appeal by residents, who had argued it prevented them from reaching 50% of their agricultural land.

The International Court of Justice issued an advisory ruling in 2004 that the barrier breached international law where it is built on occupied Palestinian territory and should be dismantled.

'Dazzling' barrage

Despite the supreme court's ruling last year, the Israeli authorities have not yet begun to implement it, meaning Bilin's residents continue to be prevented from accessing around 200 hectares (500 acres) of their farmland.


The international Conference on Non-violent Resistance held in the village over the past week sought to show solidarity with the continuing protests demanding the structure be dismantled. Ms Morgantini addressed its opening session.

On the last day of the meeting, 300 Israelis, Palestinians and foreign nationals participated in the village's weekly demonstration.

According to the protesters, dozens of people were hurt by the tear gas fired by Israeli troops deployed along the barrier, while several were also hit by canisters, including Mr Toscano. He was later taken to hospital in Ramallah.

One of the protest's organisers, Yonatan Pollak said that the troops had fired a "dazzling amount" of gas canisters, "about 30-40 per barrage".

The Israel Defence Force said protesters had hurled stones at security forces, who used crowd-dispersal methods in response.

"Those who take part in such protests and violate a closed military zone order should not be surprised to see the IDF respond with tear gas," it said.

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