Several Palestinians taking part in Friday’s weekly protests against the security fence in Bil’in, near the West Bank town of Ramallah, apparently decided to inject some holiday flavor into the proceedings this time.
A number of individuals wearing Santa Claus costumes and sporting gas masks (to shield themselves from tear gas) were photographed Friday hurling rocks at Israeli security forces.
A series of photographs seemed to show one of the protesters catapulting a tear gas canister at Israeli troops. Britain’s Daily Mail headlined a prominent article on the incident: “Bad Santa: Palestinian dressed in Father Christmas costume throws tear gas at Israeli security forces in Jerusalem.”
Since 2005 the village of Bil’in has become a symbol of Palestinian objection and resistance to Israel’s security barrier — which was established to thwart the waves of Palestinian suicide bombers entering Israel from the West Bank during the Second Intifada — with weekly protests at the site regularly leading to clashes between demonstrators and Israeli troops.
The fence has separated villagers in the area from much of their farmlands. Palestinians claim this was done for political reasons, while Israel cites security concerns.
A Supreme Court ruling in 2007 forced the Israeli government to change part of the barrier’s route, returning some of the lands to the Palestinian side of the barrier.