April 17, 2009
Ni’lin villagers once again held a Friday demonstration against the illegal Apartheid Wall and in commemoration of Prisoner’s Day. Around 150 villagers, supported by Israeli and international solidarity activists, gathered after the prayer at the local clinic. Several demonstrators wore shirts urging solidarity with the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Israeli forces stationed in the fields in the outskirts of the village started firing tear gas at the clinic even before the prayer was finished. The nonviolent demonstrators sought cover in the village from the gas, and retreated back towards the town center. However, Israeli soldiers also stationed themselves on the main street of the village. These soldiers started firing tear gas and live ammunition at the villagers gathered in the village center. Some of the village youth responded to this use of weaponry by throwing stones.
During the following hours, one male resident was hit by a fragment from a live bullet in his chest and 11 people needed medical treatment after inhaling large amounts of tear gas. Israeli forces also placed snipers on several roofs in the village, from which they shot at demonstrators near Ni’lin’s main street. Soldiers also attacked the Palestinian medical team inside the village and shot large amounts of tear gas at an ambulance.
At this Friday demonstration, the Israeli army once again shot extended range high velocity tear gas canisters. This is the same type of canister that was used to kill Basem Abu Rahme at a nonviolent demonstration in Bil’in on the same day. On the 13 March, American solidarity activist Tristan Anderson was critically injured after being shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas canister. Tristan is still listed in critical condition in a Tel Aviv hospital after undergoing three separate brain surgeries.