International Solidarity Movement
19 February 2010
The peaceful demonstration in the Occupied West Bank village of Al Ma’sara by Palestinians and Internationals was aggressively dispersed using tear gas & sound bombs, today, by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). This is the second week that the IOF have been using increasingly violent methods to repress non-violent demonstrations in Al Ma’sara, a reflection of their tactics across the villages of the West Bank.
Approximately 70 Palestinians and 14 Internationals, including 3 Israelis, gathered to protest against the construction of the Israeli apartheid wall which is illegal under international law. The wall runs through the land of the village, the completion of which will block the residents from their farmland; they have already lost more than 350 hectares of land to a nearby Israeli settlement.
Men and women of all ages assembled after the Friday prayer, marching through the main road of the village where they were addressed by the organisers of the demonstration, the Popular Committee Against the Wall. This was followed by an address by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who participated in the demonstration as part of their 41st anniversary.
Barbed wire was laid across the road and the procession descended towards their farmland onto a parallel road used by Israeli Settlers, at which point an IOF jeep approached. Soldiers exited and began firing tear gas and throwing sound grenades into the group. Some local youths responded by throwing rocks at the IOF as the whole group fled back to the village. Soldiers pursued into the village whilst continuing to fire tear gas and sound grenades at the group. Many residents suffered from the effects of the tear-gas in their homes and an eighteen-year old participant was injured by a tear-gas shell.
Sound grenades were used at very close range by the IOF to displace the press and international activists, and physical aggression was used against both an ISM member and a Palestinian man. An ISM member also filmed a soldier firing tear-gas canisters directly into the crowd at head level, which included young children.