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Day of Violence at Nonviolent Demonstrations Accross the West Bank

Today at around 12 pm, in the village of kheirbet al musbah, 200 non-violent Palestinian activists, joined by Israelis and internationals, gathered from the surrounding villages to demonstrate against the closure of route 443. The demonstrators marched towards what was once the access route to route 443, but which has been blocked as part of Israel’s apartheid policies. 443 has been designated a pass road for Israelis only, in contradiction to the Supreme Court’s ruling. The demonstrators chanted against the occupation and against the closure. On the access road, blocked by cement, there were a few soldiers who tried to prevent the demonstrators from moving forward. They beat several youth who were among the demonstrators. The march continued, however, despite these efforts. The march stopped at the 443 road and the demonstrators stood in front of a line of police and soldiers, continuing to chant and to wave Palestinian flags. Some of the youth, after the demonstration dispersed, threw stones at the assembled soldiers and police. A few jeeps carrying border police and soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets towards the demonstrators the village and surrounding olive groves. The organizers of the demonstration invited Israeli and international demonstrators to continue to attend the protest, now regularly scheduled for once a week.

At the demonstration today in Bil’in, three demonstrators, two Palestinians and one Israeli, were seriously hurt. The first wounded demonstrator was a 40 year old resident of Bil’in and was shot in the hand and chest with a teargas canister which burned through his coat and shirt, broke the palm of his hand and injured his chest. The teargas canister was fired directly at the protester from short range. The Israeli who was wounded was hit in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet. The Israeli who was hit with the rubber bullet was standing at the side of the road leading to the wall. When he was hit he fell unconscious and was evacuated with the injured Palestinian. He is bruised and in pain and shock. Another Bil’in resident, Adib Abu Rahme, was arrested and beaten in the head. He was near the wall and was caught by the soldiers, who battered his head and threw him to the side of the road while he was still bleeding. Abu Rahme, after coming to, identified the soldier who had beaten him to a photographer. At this stage, the soldiers arrested him again and held him for two hours, even though he required urgent medical care. All three were taken to the Ramallah hospital. The Israeli was sent to a hospital in Israel and has been released. The two Palestinians were released and are recuperating.

60 Palestinians and 5 Israelis converged on Road 60 near Umm Salamuna today to nonviolently protest the theft of 30 Dunums of Palestinian land for the expansion of the road to Efrat settlement. The army set up checkpoints around the protest and denied many Palestinains and Israelis access. Soldiers made regular incursions into the protest to beat demonstrators, one Palestinian man was seriously wounded.