By Laila El-Haddad
Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian boy and injured 18 others in separate incidents in the West Bank during protests against the illegal separation barrier, officials and witnesses said. Fifteen-year-old Muheeb Ahmad Assi was pronounced dead at the scene after being shot by an Israeli security guard, according to Mohammad Hawani of the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Ram Allah.
Hawani said Assi died of a bullet wound to his chest.
Witnesses said clashes broke out between Assi’s group of friends and an Israeli security guard near a part of the separation barrier in the village of Beit Lakiya, where he lived.
The guard shot at them with live ammunition, and Assi was hit.
Palestinians were not allowed near the boy until over a hour had passed, by which point he had bled to death, doctors said.
Assi was the son of Ahmed Assi, the village’s head of the Popular Committee Against the Wall.
Earlier, in the West Bank village of Biilin, 18 people were injured when clashes broke out during a protest held against Isreal’s separation barrier.
Ramzi Yassin, 22, was in a critical condition after a rubber-coated metal bullet hit his head. He sustained internal bleeding, according to doctors at the Ram Allah Government Hospital.
A second Palestinian, Yunis Husain, 21, was in a stable condition after a rubber-coated metal bullet was removed from his stomach during surgery, hospital officials told Aljazeera.net.
Witnesses at the protest confirmed the account.
“After Friday prayers, Palestinian shabab (youth) began throwing stones at soldiers off the side of the demonstration.
“Twenty minutes later, the soldiers began using tear gas, rubber bullets, sound bombs, and stones were thrown again. Eighteen people were injured,” said a rights activist Linda M, who asked her full identity be concealed for security reasons.
The demonstration comes on the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that declared Israel’s separation barrier illegal.
After Israeli courts refused appeals to prevent the wall’s construction, the Palestinians of Biilin – along with Israeli and foreign activists – began peacefully protesting against the confiscation of their land. They have held over 45 non-violent demonstrations since February 2005.
Friday’s demonstration was attended by Palestinian parliament representatives and ministers, Israeli Knesset members, representatives from the Palestinian National and Islamic parties, along with international and Israeli supporters.
“Our message, simply, is ‘no to the barrier’ “, Abd Allah Abu-Rahma, founder of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Biilin told Aljazeera.net.
Biilin has become famous for its non-violent demonstrations against the wall.
Last week, protesters placed themselves in mock cages to symbolise how their village was becoming a big prison.
“Every protest has to have a goal and a new theme so the world can see that there is a small village in Ram Allah whose land is being annexed and that it is being oppressed.
“We try to use new methods of resistance and try to carry the message to regular Israelis to show them that we don’t hate them: I am a Palestinian who does not hate human beings, only oppression and occupation,” said Abu-Rahma, who has been detained by the Israeli secret service for his involvement in the protests.
Abu-Rahma says the wall is destroying the village’s very livelihood, and accuses the Israeli government of following a policy of indirect transfer of the villagers to make room for new settlements.
“The wall is a catastrophe that has fallen on our village, and on our people, as a whole. It takes half the land of our village. Our village is small, so when it takes half the land, there is not much left. The only land we have left is the land with our houses on it,” he said.
The wall will isolate more than 60% of the lands of Biilin, if completed, according to the Popular Committee Against the Wall.