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Bil’in: Excessive Aggression by IOF against demonstrators continues

By the ISM Media Team

At 1:30 on the 22nd June 2007, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists gathered together for the 124th demonstration against the Apartheid Wall being built and the expansion and occupation of the nearby illegal Settlement of Mode’in Illit. The demonstration began with chanting in both Arabic and English by the demonstrators as they marched to where the wall has been built. Both peaceful and civil, the demonstrators were initially met with quiet from the approximately 20 soldiers who were stood around twenty meters from a section of barbed wire lying in the road to restrict access. The demonstrators initially held their position at the barbed wire, chanting and shouting, however after a period of relative calm from the Israeli soldiers, they suddenly started firing sound grenades and tear gas at demonstrators who had been peacefully protesting against the wall and settlement. Some demonstrators were only ten meters away from the army with hands raised to show peace and non-violence, when they began to fire the sound grenades and the tear gas. It was clear from these gestures that the demonstrators had come without violence; however the Israeli army chose to deliberately ignore this. The demonstrators made efforts to retreat back to a safe distance however the Israeli military continued to fire sound grenades and tear gas canisters at the protestors. Many demonstrators were still holding their hands in the air and walking away from the soldiers however the soldiers continued to fire at them. A Canadian lady, known as Beth was walking away from soldiers at this time when she was shot in the back of her leg with a tear gas canister. The Israeli army showed complete disregard for demonstrators who were retreating or people not directly involved in the demonstration.
The IDF continued to move forward along the road despite the retreat by the demonstrators and they continued to fire rubber coated steel bullets, tear gas and sound grenades. When a group of six female Palestinian and international activists attempted to confront the IDF over the use of violence against children, they were met with aggression and physical violence at one point attempting to arrest a Palestinian lady whose only crime was to voice her opinion. Children as young as ten were being targeted by the IDF with rubber coated steel bullets for throwing stones at heavily armored military jeeps. Attempts were made by activists to defend the children, yet soldiers continued to fire and forcibly hit, pushed and dragged female activists for their attempts to prevent the violence. The Soldiers had complete disregard for the activists who were acting without violence and continued to fire despite a HRW being directly infront of the soldier. It was with only good fortune that the HRW was not hit.
During the protest two further Palestinians were arrested, one of whom, Iyad Burnat of the popular committee is still being held. He was detained initially by two soldiers without apparent reason. He has since been shown photo’s of a man throwing stones, which the soldiers have claimed was him, despite this not being the case. He is currently in Offer prison awaiting a trial.