24 September 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
September 23 was a historical day for Palestinians worldwide and within the territories, as the Palestinian Authority submitted a bid to the UN to be recognized as the 194th nation of the world. While diplomats and political discussions ensued, a typical dialogue between Palestinians continued in the face of constant illegal Israeli oppression.
The demonstration started just after the noon prayer. By 5 there were approximately 200 Palestinians. Most of the soldiers were special forces, dressed in black uniforms. The “Scream” a loud siren used to deter demonstrators with its screeching noise, made its second appearance at Qalandia this week. A jeep mounted tear gas launcher was used to fire at least ten tear gas canisters at once. Due to the enclosed environment near the Qalandia checkpoint and refugee camp, escaping the clouds of gas was difficult for demonstrators. After launching teargas rounds, special forces charged up the street firing rubber coated steel bullets into the backs of protesters running from the gas. Red Crescent workers estimated at least 30 people were injured, with one person suffering a gunshot wound to the head after being hit with a rubber coated steel bullet. As late as 8:30 PM, the Israeli army was still firing occasional volleys of teargas from the Qalandia watchtower and on the ground until demonstrators finally dispersed.
Following noon prayers, peaceful demonstrators found themselves being attacked by Israeli military volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets almost immediately upon their presence. With a skunk water truck present, the “Scream” siren sounded to deter the presence of locals, as the Israeli military shot low to the ground and at close range, about 16-20 meters from peaceful demonstrators. 4 were injured by rubber coated steel bullets while a French photographer sustained a wound to his leg from a tear gas canister.
After finishing their Friday prayers, Qusra residents found that illegal settlers from a neighboring illegal settlement were destroying olive trees just before the national olive harvest season. As locals approached their land to salvage what they could, the Israeli military intervened to defend these illegal settlers, killing Essam Aoudhi and wounding others.
Following an emergency call, international volunteers immediately went to the home of the Sultan family, where the previous settler attacks were documented at Tar Abusie School children. When they arrived on the closed off road for Palestinians, they encountered a collection of vehicles filled with settlers from a nearby large, illegal Israeli settlement off the road. At the entrance of the compound, a soldier awaited them and opened gate. At the end of the group, a soldier enclosed jeep followed behind.
Volunteers continued toward the Sultan family area to see if more settlers had stayed behind. They had left, but the family expressed that the settlers held a demonstration regularly, every Friday about 12 noon to1 p.m. Internationals will be monitoring this area of Hebron regularly this Friday.
Around 5 p.m ISM received another call that the settlers had returned to harrass the farmers in the Sultan family area.
Later that night in the main center of Hebron, a gigantic screen was placed in the street for the town to hear the speeches of all the PA politicos. The town came out for the occasion. A large barbed wire had been placed into the opening of the old city past Checkpoint 56. At least 100 PA police, as well as Israeli soldiers were out guarding. At one point about 300 young men gathered in a street to get into the Old City and possibly the checkpoints, but the PA police held them back. The IDF was ready for them near the checkpoint with about 40 soldiers.
However, the boys dispersed slowly.