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Israeli forces occupy Ni’lin homes to shoot at demonstrators

1 May 2009

On Friday, 1 May 2009 at 11.15am, an hour before the weekly Friday demonstration against the Apartheid Wall begins, Israeli forces entered the village of Ni’lin through the fields. Soldiers attempted to forcefully occupy two homes, for use as shooting posts. During their attempt, a 10 year old girl was injured by a sound grenade thrown near her leg as soldiers tried to enter her home. Another 22 individuals were injured during the demonstration; 4 were shot with rubber coated steel bullets, 4 were hit by tear-gas canisters and 12 suffered from serious tear-gas inhalation and had to be treated by medics.

Israeli forces tried to enter the family home of Ahmed and Sami Amireh. Only the women and children were present in the home, when 3 soldiers entered through their front gate. “They wear bringing water and food” said one of the women in the family “I asked them what they wear doing in our garden and they said they wanted to stay on our roof the whole day” she explained.

When the family refused to let the soldiers inside the house, they called their commander and another seven soldiers came to the house. Simultaneously, many people from the neighbouring houses came to help the family prevent the soldiers from entering. Together they blocked the door of the house and managed to stop the soldiers from entering. Trying to scatter the blockade, the army threw sound grenades directly at those in front of the home, injuring 10 year-old Raja Ibrahim Amireh. She had to be taken to the local clinic for treatment.

Saeeb Khawaja trying to get soldiers to leave his family home

Saeeb Khawaja trying to get soldiers to leave his family home

As the soldiers were leaving they threw several tear-gas grenades into the garden of the home. The army proceeded to occupy another home, belonging to an elderly couple, Azmi and Maysam Khawaja. Three soldiers forced their way unto the Khawaja roof, preparing to shoot at demonstrators. Together with several international solidarity activists, the son of the family, Saeeb Khawaja, came to the house and managed to get unto the roof. Instead of leaving, more soldiers arrived; ten soldiers were firing tear-gas into the village from the roof. The soldiers left 30 minutes later, after attacking Saeeb and the others with sound grenades.

The prayer before the demonstration had to take place in the centre of the village, as the presence of Israeli soldiers in Ni’lin’s olive groves prevented prayer in the fields. Following the prayer, the protestors marched along the main street to reach a road leading to the fields. The ary began to shoot tear-gas at demonstrators as they were marching, causing many to return to the village and several to throw stones at the soldiers. Soldiers proceeded to use tactics in violation of Israeli firing regulations, as they were shooting tear-gas canisters directly at protestors and houses.

At approximately 3pm, a fire truck had to be called for after the army started a fire on a big tree next to a house complex. During the coming hour the demonstration moved from inside the village to the fields where it ended at 4.30 pm. When the protesters headed back into the village, soldiers fired a 0.22 live calibre at them, but missed.

Israeli occupation forces have 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, 26 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.