Friday, October 24, 2008
The weekly prayer demonstration in Ni’lin began at 11.15am, when Israeli soldiers began to shoot tear gas at a group of residents attempting to pray on their land. Those praying moved to another spot, where the soldiers continued to shoot tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets directly at the crowd, which contained many children. They shot from two sides of the people, forcing them to stay amongst the tear gas. The crowd then moved to yet another location, where they held the prayer.
The demonstrators (consisting of around 150 Palestinians and 20 international and Israeli activists) then spread throughout the fields, as the soldiers were shooting tear gas into the air. There were several different groups in the fields: one that remained closer to the village and a group that attempted to march to construction site of the Apartheid Wall. Both groups reunited when the army pushed them close to the Ni’lin clinic. The Israeli soldiers shot directly at the demonstrators and much of the tear gas entered the clinic. Two were injured at the site of the clinic, a Palestinian was shot in the head and an ISM volunteer was shot in the side with rubber coated steel bullets.
After an hour, the soldiers pulled back towards the construction site, but continued to shoot at the demonstrators as they walked back. The demonstrators followed to the hill above the construction site, where they were heavily tear gassed. Once the Israeli soldiers had left, a small group of demonstrators remained and set fire inside a water pipe, damaging the inside metal in the hope that they could delay the building of the wall. Once soldiers arrived at the scene, around 16.00, the demonstration was declared over.
The extreme violence used against the demonstrators in Ni’lin has not deterred their resistance. Several times a week, residents and activists gather to protest the Apartheid Wall. While most demonstrators were tear gassed during the demonstration, many were injured with rubber coated steel bullets. The village of Ni’lin will continue their resistance despite the casualties they suffer.