1 January 2010
During today’s demonstration in Ni’lin – marking the anniversary of the Fatah movement – one eight year old boy was injured in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet and two teenage boys (15 and 17 years old) arrested.
Around 500 people, including international and Israeli activists attended today’s weekly Friday protest against the Apartheid Wall in Ni’lin. Ni’lin celebrated the anniversary of the Fatah movement, hereby attracting a large number of people for this week’s demonstration, including high profile Fatah members such as dr. Sabri Saydam, Tawfiq Terawi, Ra’ed Radwan and Mahmoud Aloul. The Israeli army had closed the entrance of the village, but many people managed to get into the village to attend the event.
After the Friday prayer and a speech by Mahmoud Aloul, participants marched towards the Apartheid Wall, chanting slogans and calling for national unity in order to overcome the occupation.
After the Friday prayer on the land, demonstrators marched towards one of the gates, chanting slogans against the confiscation of Palestinian land and called for an end to Israeli military occupation and justice for the Palestinian people.
When the demonstrators reached the Wall site, soldiers were awaiting them on the other side. After a group of youth had climbed the concrete blocks and planted flags on the Wall, the army came through the gates. Soldiers started launching large amounts of teargas canisters into the crowd, as well as firing rounds of rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition. Many people experienced breathing problems.
The demonstration pulled back towards the village and soldiers tried to arrest demonstrators. Towards the end of the demonstration, soldiers arrested two youth (residents of Shuqba, a neighboring village) aged 15 and 17 years. When the soldiers started beating up these youngsters, other participants and Red Crescent volunteers tried to come to their rescue. Soldiers then assaulted one medical volunteer – Juma’a Khawaja, he was beaten with a gun. Israeli soldiers also fired live ammunition and rubber coated steel bullets, injuring an eight year old boy – who was shot in the head. The boy was immediately taken to Ramallah hospital where he received treatment. He was sent home later that night with six stitches in the back of his head. No further injuries were reported.
Later in the night, two jeeps entered the village and started shooting live ammunition and tear gas towards anybody who was walking outside. After twenty minutes, they left again.
Recently, Israel has increased its attempts to bring the weekly demonstrations against the Wall to a forced end. In addition to a coordinated arrests campaign of the leadership and participants of these demonstrations, in the village of Ni’lin, the army has illegally reintroduced the use of 0.22” caliber live ammunition for crowd dispersal purposes. The 0.22” munitions, often colloquially referred to as “twotwo” were classified as live ammunition and banned as crowd-control measures already in 2001, by the then military Judge Advocate General, Menachem Finkelstein.
Despite this fact, the Israeli military resumed using the 0.22” munitions to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank in the wake of Operation Cast Lead. Since then at least two Palestinian demonstrators were killed by 0.22” fire:
- on 13 February 2009, Az a-Din al-Jamal, age 14, was killed in Hebron
- on 5 June 2009, Aqel Srour, age 35 in Ni’lin
- 28 other than Srour were injured by 0.22” bullets in Ni’lin alone
Following the death of Aqel Srour, JAG Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit reasserted that the use of the 0.22” munitions “are not classified by the IDF as means for dispersing demonstrations or public disturbances”. Despite this clarification by the JAG, on 13 November 2009, the army resumed using the 0.22” munitions against demonstrators in Ni’lin, already injuring four demonstrators, in conditions very far removed from life-threatening situations (under which the shooting of live ammunition is permitted).