IDF: International Donors Fund Bil'in Protests

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Pro-Palestinian protesters are paid for their weekly attendance at the Bil'in security fence, an IDF officer told reporters on Sunday.

The press conference took place as Israel completed the rerouting of the security barrier to include more farmland for Palestinian Arabs. Weekly protests against the security barrier have taken place there for years.

The Jerusalem Post reported that rerouted security fence adds 650 dunam -- about 160 acres -- of farmland on the Arab side of the security barrier while leaving 1,300 dunam -- about 320 acres -- on the Israeli side.

IDF Col. Sa'ar Tzur, commander of the Binyamin Brigade, said protests would continue because "a lot of money" is involved.

"For a long time, this has not been a political or diplomatic issue," Tzur told reporters. "They [the demonstrators] get money from foreign donors."

One of the protest organizers countered by saying Tzur "receives a huge salary for shooting demonstrators."

"We view it as an important political victory," the Post quoted Jonathan Pollak from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee as saying.  The protests would continue, he said, until the "wall [sic] is dismantled entirely."

On Friday, correspondent Shabtai Garbarvitz wrote in the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon that protesters are paid by "leftist organizations."

According to Garbarvitz, the younger protesters -- the stone throwers -- are paid 50 shekels (about $15) and the "leaders and inciters" make as much as 4,000 shekels (about $1,200).

"The organizer of the protests arrives at the place each week in a new black Hummer jeep," Garbarvitz wrote, the Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA) reported.

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