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Israeli forces escalate suppression of Ni’lin resistance

27 March 2009

Residents of Ni’lin, along with international and Israeli solidarity activists, gathered to demonstrate against the construction of the Apartheid Wall on Friday, 27 March 2009. Shortly after protesters began marching on the main road in town, they were attacked with tear gas by Israeli forces. The army maintained a presence in the village, occupying several Palestinian homes and shooting gas and 0.22 live calibre bullets at demonstrators. One demonstrator was shot with live ammunition in his leg, another was hit by a tear gas canister and many suffered from tear gas inhalation.

After a prayer near the village clinic, around 250 protesters marched along the main road, chanting their opposition to the Israeli occupation. Israeli forces fired upon demonstrators before they were able to head to their olive fields. A barrage of tear gas was shot into the village, dispersing the united march.

After the initial attack, military jeeps entered the village, occupying homes to shoot at demonstrators. Several jeeps drove through the streets, periodically stopping to shoot at residents. Israeli forces positioned on the roofs of Palestinian homes also shot into the streets. The military incursion on Ni’lin lasted until 4pm and caused the injury of one demonstrator hit by a tear gas canister and another shot with live ammunition in the leg.

Responding to the Occupation, the theft of their lands and increased suppression of the village’s resistance, several demonstrators threw stones at the armed Israeli forces.

The struggle has intensified as Israeli forces have begun conducting military incursions in the village at the start of the weekly Friday demonstration for the past month. Protesters are being denied not only access to their olive fields, but their freedom of expression against the Occupation within the town. Despite public criticisms in response to the recent, critical injury of Tristan Anderson, the army continues the dangerous tactic of shooting tear-gas canister at demonstrators, utilizing the canisters as weapons rather than the gas as crowd dispersal.

Israeli occupation forces have already murdered four Ni’lin residents during demonstrations against the confiscation of their land and critically injured one international solidarity activist.

Ahmed Mousa (10) was shot in the forehead with live ammunition on 29 July 2008. The following day, Yousef Amira (17) was shot twice with rubber-coated steel bullets, leaving him brain dead. He died a week later on 4 August 2008. Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22), was the third Ni’lin resident to be killed by Israeli forces. He was shot in the back with live ammunition on 28 December 2008. That same day, Mohammed Khawaje (20), was shot in the head with live ammunition, leaving him brain dead. He died three days in a Ramallah hospital. Tristan Anderson (37), an American citizen, was shot with a high velocity tear gas projectile on 13 March 2009 and is currently in critical condition. In total, 19 persons have been shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition.

Since May 2008, residents of Ni’lin village have been demonstrating against construction of the Apartheid Wall. Despite being deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, the occupation continues to build a Wall, further annexing Palestinian land.

Ni’lin will lose approximately 2500 dunums of agricultural land when the construction of the Wall is completed. Ni’lin consisted of 57,000 dunums in 1948, reduced to 33,000 dunums in 1967, currently is 10,000 dunums and will be 7,500 dunums after construction of the Wall.