12 June 2009
Approximately 100 Palestinian, Israeli and international solidarity activists gathered today in the village of Nil’in. The atmosphere was charged following last week’s murder of Yousef Akil Srour, and demonstrators were unsure of the force that would meet them as they marched towards the Apartheid wall.
50 meters before reaching the razor wire fence that charts the intended route of the separation wall, which parts villagers from their fields, Israeli forces began firing tear gas. While those with children ran from the ensuing gas, others continued down towards the fence, yelling in Hebrew to the soldiers ‘Go home’. The group immediately dispersed and people fanned out along the ridge that runs alongside the road and razor wire. In one area youths were able to dismantle a section of the fence spanning four meters as others threw rocks onto the fence below.
There was a huge soldier presence, with more than 12 army vehicles, although they maintained a distance they shot multiple tear gas canisters (16 fired per round) from atop of the jeeps. At one point a few soldiers advanced on foot, leaving the road through a small gate, allowing them to shoot from a closer proximately. At times, they would shoot the tear gas canisters from three directions at once, making it impossible for demonstrators to reach safety.
While a few protesters were hit by tear gas canisters, no one was seriously injured. The protest ended earlier than normal, as people returned to the village fearing that the army was going to move in.
However as the army did not enter the area, the demonstration ended with a memorial for Yousef Akil Srour.
To date, Israeli occupation forces have murdered five Palestinian residents and critically injured 1 international solidarity activist during unarmed demonstrations in Ni’lin.
- 29 July 2008: Ahmed Mousa (10) was shot in the forehead with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
- 30 July 2008: Yousef Amira (17) was shot in the head with two rubber coated steel bullets. He died in a Ramallah hospital 5 days later on 4 August 2008.
- 28 December 2008: Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) was shot in the back with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
- 28 December 2008: Mohammed Khawaje (20) was shot in the head with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition. He died in a Ramallah hospital 3 days later on 31 December 2008.
- 13 March 2009: Tristan Anderson (37), an American citizen, was shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas projectile. He is currently at Tel Hashomer hospital with an unknown
- 5 June 2009: Yousef Akil Srour (36) was shot in the chest with 0.22 caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
In total, 35 people have been shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition: 7 were shot with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and 28 were shot with 0.22 caliber live ammunition.
Since May 2008, residents of Ni’lin have been organizing and participating in unarmed demonstrations against construction of the Apartheid Wall. Despite being deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, the Occupation continues to build the Wall, further annexing Palestinian land.
Ni’lin will lose approximately 2,500 dunums of agricultural land when construction of the Wall is completed. Ni’lin consisted of 57,000 dunums in 1948, was reduced to 33,000 dunums in 1967, is currently 10,000 dunums and will be 7,500 dunums after completion of the Wall.
Additionally, a tunnel for Palestinians is being built underneath road 446. This tunnel will allow for the closure of the road to Palestinian vehicles, turning road 446 into an Israeli-only road. Ni’lin will be effectively split into 2 parts (upper Ni’lin and lower Ni’lin), as road 446 runs between the village. The tunnel is designed to give Israeli occupation forces control of movement over Ni’lin residents, as it can be blocked with a single military vehicle.