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Israeli Soldier in Bil’in: “This is Lebanon!”

Israeli activists have uploaded a video of the shooting of Lymor and the initial violence of the Israeli military in Bil’in on Friday, August 11th. To view it click here. Higher quality for broadcast is also available from the ISM media office

The video clearly shows the Border Police unit firing on the demonstrators from close range. There is no evidence that the soldiers were in danger. Typically, the military spokesperson has claimed that “activists threw stones” and Haaretz’s article yesterday reiterating the same false information. The video also clearly shows the commander of the unit saying, “This is Lebanon!” as he orders his force to fire on retreating demonstrators, and “I will not allow a demonstration during wartime!”

The commander, Majdei, made this decision despite a military court decision in August 2005 that people in Bil’in have the right to protest on their land on the village-side of the apartheid wall. Every week since the wall was finished in March 2006, the Israeli military has also denied them the right to protest on their farmland on the other side of the wall. The wall separates villagers from 60% of their farmland, half of which has already been annexed and developed by Jewish settlements.

In addition many villagers have been arrested in the night during army raids for participating in the demonstrations in Bil’in. Two villagers are still in prison: Esaam Matar, 29, has been imprisoned eight months and the military has ruled he is to be deported to Jordan; and Muhammad Burnat, 19, has been imprisoned for 3 months and has not yet had a trial for his alleged crimes.

According to official military regulations, which were reported in the Hebrew version of Haaretz today, soldiers are not allowed to fire from a distance closer than 40 meters. They are instructed not to fire at vital areas of the body and only to fire when they are in immediate danger. Each week during demonstrations in Bil’in, many non-violent demonstrators are injured in the head, neck and chest.

The Israeli who was shot in the head and a Danish woman beaten with a gun on Friday are the most serious injuries the army has caused since Ramzi Yassin, who was shot in the head with a plastic-coated steel bullet. Ramzi, from Bil’in, was handing out water during a demonstration in Bil’in on July 8th 2005, when he was shot in the side of the head. The bullet caused severe bleeding of his brain and he was left unconscious for 7 days and with permanent brain damage. Haitham al Khateeb of Bil’in, Yonathan Pollack, an Israeli, BJ from Denmark, and Phil of Austrailia were hospitalized at different times all for rubber bullets injuries to their heads at close range at Bil’in demonstrations, except for Haitham who was hit by a tear gas canister fired at his head.

Lymor, who was shot on Friday, is currently in a stable condition at Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv. It took the ambulances about an hour to get from the site where he was shot to the hospital. He was taken in for immediate surgery which took 3 hours, and a rubber bullet as well as shards of bone and damaged brain tissue were removed from his head and an internal heomorage was stopped. Before the surgery he was totally clear and aware even though he was in a lot of pain. After the surgery he was moving his arms and legs while he was under sedation. He was taken off sedation around 7pm yesterday evening. He can move his limbs and can talk but is having trouble with his vision.

Rina, from Denmark, is also currently in the hospital in Hebron, suffering from severe concussion caused by an Israeli soldier beating her with his gun. She is stable, but is still having trouble walking on her own.