19th March 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Ni’lin, occupied Palestine
On 18th March 2016, Palestinian villagers of Ni’lin protested against the Israeli land-theft and illegal settlements and the continuous violence Israeli forces use to stifle the weekly non-violent protests. Villagers commemorated Rachel Corrie, an American activist killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, and Tristan Anderson, an American activist left with severe permanent physical and cognitive impairments after being shot in the head with a high-velocity tear gas canister in Ni’lin.
Israeli forces again used excessive force, inundating not only the protestors, but the whole village in tear gas. Whereas the last two weeks Israeli forces showered a public park with a playground in tear gas, causing several cases of excessive tear gas inhalation of small children playing there; this Friday they deliberately targeted civilian homes inside the village with tear gas, as well covering the public park in tear gas. The heavy iron tear gas canisters broke windows of 7 houses and the shops in the center of the village, causing civilians to suffer from the effects of tear gas inhalation. As family homes were targeted with tear gas, dozens of children and elderly had to be treated for tear gas inhalation. 8 people, including an 87-year old man had to be treated for excessive tear-gas inhalation. Throughout the West Bank, Israeli forces have increased the use of long-range tear gas canisters, that can reach up to 1000m and are silent when shot. These kind of tear gas canisters increase the risk of serious and / or deadly injuries as they can’t be heard and are iron-clad and thus extremely hard. Furthermore 2 people were treated after being hit and injured with rubber-coated steel bullets during the protest.
Luckily, no one was directly hit with one of the tear-gas canisters shot into Palestinian family homes. On the 12th of March, a 17-year old boy was shot in the neck with one of these heavy tear-gas canisters, causing a skull fracture. He had to undergo surgery and only after a week in intensive care his condition is now stable.
The continuous targeting of civilians, families and children by the Israeli forces is not only common in the village of Ni’lin, but also throughout the occupied West Bank.