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Two shot with live ammunition at Ni´lin prayer demonstration

January 23, 2009

On Friday, 23 January 2009, the residents of Ni’lin gathered with international and Israeli solidarity activists in their continued resistance against construction of the Apartheid Wall. Around 100 demonstrators participated in the weekly Friday prayer demonstration, a gesture of protest to the annexation of Ni’lin’s land and apartheid policies towards the Palestinian people. The Israeli army responded to the non-violent manifestation by invading the village and injuring 15 people, two with live ammunition.

Around 12.00, residents prayed next to the clinic. Immediately afterwards, the demonstrators marched through the olive grove, towards the site where the Occupation is building the Apartheid wall. Protesters were attacked by Israeli soldiers with tear gas, rubber and plastic coated steel bullets. After 20 minutes of shooting at the demonstrators in the olive groves, the army invaded the village.

The soldiers invaded the village from the main road and the olive groves taking up several positions in the town. Soldiers were stationed at the clinic and main street, marching to the town centre. They fired tear gas, rubber-coated steal bullets, sound bombs and live ammunition from inside the village, endangering the community. Two were shot in the leg with live ammunition and required medical attention.

The whole town was affected by the military incursion, forcing people to take shelter from the attack in their homes and shops. Teargas landed in many places in the town away from any demonstrators and one person by a tear gas canister that hit his head. Soldiers were targeting houses and nearly created a catastrophe by shooting next to the petrol station. Soldiers in the main street used speakers to make a high pitched alarm, known as the ‘scream’, to panic and disorientate the demonstrators and later they played classical music as they shot at people. Additionally, soldiers occupied the medical centre and removed the Palestinian flags at Arafat and Mohamed al Khawadja’s graves (two youths murdered by the occupation forces during a solidarity with Gaza demonstration in Ni’lin).

The demonstration ended around 4:30pm when the army withdrew from the town after injuring over 15 people. This is the fourth consecutive occasion where the army has aggressively occupied the town of Ni’lin during the demonstration: a means of collective punishment on the entire village of Ni’lin for the resistance to the Apartheid Wall.