31th May 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus team | Tulkarem, Occupied Palestine
On the morning of the 31st of May, several buses filled with Palestinian and international activists from across the West Bank gathered in Tulkarem to march towards the Natanya checkpoint, used only by the Israeli military forces.
Political groups, Palestinian civil society and Popular Resistance Committees named this action as the “March of Return”. Their aim was to defend their right of return and were united under the following slogan: “Our return is inevitable: Freedom for Al Aqsa (Jerusalem) and the prisoners”.
Once the buses arrived in Tulkarem, the activists marched several hundred meters to arrive at the checkpoint. Several protesters gathered at the gates of the checkpoint and began chanting, others spray-painted messages onto the apartheid wall [declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004], while other activists used heavy craft hammers to damage it.
A few tear gas canisters were shot soon after the demonstration reached the gates of the checkpoint, enough to break up the protesters into two groups. One of these tear gas canisters caused a fire in a nearby field. Then, several “warning” shots were fired into the air with live ammunition and Israeli forces then fired large amounts of tear gas canisters. Tear gas projectiles were fired at the crowd.
Political groups, Palestinian civil society and Popular Resistance Committees marched together to defend the right of return (photo by ISM).
Among the organizations involved there were also women’s unions (photo by ISM).
Activist carries a heavy craft hammer that was later used to damage the apartheid wall (photo by ISM).
Public speeches and chanting in front of the military checkpoint (photo by ISM).
Palestinian women and men chanting at the gates of Natanya military checkpoint (photo by ISM).
Two heavy craft hammers were used during the action to damage the apartheid wall near the checkpoint. Other protesters also had enough time to spray-paint messages onto the wall (photo by ISM).
Israeli soldiers leave their positions at the checkpoint to fire teargas projectiles and canisters at the demonstrators. At least two people received a direct impact from teargas projectiles that were fired at the crowd (photo by ISM).
Highly concentrated teargas was fired frequently during the demonstration. Eye irritation was commonplace and as many as 20 people had to be attended by paramedics due to suffocation (photo by ISM).
Tear gas canisters being shot at protesters (photo by ISM).
Photo by ISM
Protesters regrouping after a first attack by Israeli soldiers. The man on the left is holding an “ice pack” underneath his arm, he was shot with a tear gas projectile and his arm was visibly swollen after the demonstration (photo by ISM).
Photo by ISM
Palestinian youth attempted to build tire barricades but were soon ambushed by Israeli soldiers. Jeeps and armored vehicles drove at high speed from behind and surrounded some protesters, at that point one youth (20 years old) was arrested (photo by ISM).