Work starts to reroute West Bank security fence at Bil'in
Newly routed barrier will hand 700,000 square meters of agricultural land back to Palestinian village.
Israel has begun work to reroute a section of its West Bank security barrier at Bil'in - two and a half years after the Supreme Court ordered the state to return land to Palestinian farmers, Army Radio reported on Thursday.
Once completed, the newly routed fence will skirt agricultural land to hand some 700,000 square meters of arable back to the village, long the site of often violent weekly protests.
Two activists have been killed in clashes with security forces since regular Friday demonstrations began in 2005 at Bil'in, which lies four kilometres beyond the Green Line dividing Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Around 150,000 square meters of village land will remain on the Israeli side of the fence, however, and it is unclear whether demonstrations will continue.
Bil'in residents have not officially endorsed the move and Michael Sfarad, a lawyer representing the village, told Army Radio on Thursday that if campaigners found their legal options exhausted in Israel, they would consider filing suits internationally.
The Supreme Court ruled on the change in September 2007, ordering the first alteration to the barrier's route in the Bil'in area since construction of the fence began in 2002.
Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote in her ruling: "We were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bilin's lands."