8 Year Old Boy Loses Consciousness in Demonstration in Ni’lin

5 June 2008

Wednesday, June 4, approximately 60 Palestinians from Ni’lin were joined by supporters from nearby villages as well as Israeli and international activists in the ongoing struggle against the destruction of their olive trees and agricultural land for the construction of the Annexation Barrier. After gathering in front of the city council, demonstrators marched towards the construction site, with a smaller group going around the side of a hill to avoid being shot at by the waiting Israeli military. Marchers had to cross a “river” of raw sewage from the nearby settlement Hashmoanim single file, just feet below a line of Israeli soldiers waiting to shoot the non-violent demonstrators who walked with their hands in the air as they approached the bulldozers.
The first group to climb up near the bulldozers included a member of the Popular Committee and a quietly determined 8 year-old boy. The soldiers immediately showered the forward group with clouds of tear gas and the small boy was soon overwhelmed and fell unconscious. It took several minutes of negotiations before Palestinian medics were allowed to reach the boy. In the meantime, Israeli soldiers attempted to arrest the member of the Popular Committee, holding him down in an area filled with tear gas, until the soldiers were overcome with tear gas and were forced by their own attack to retreat several meters. However, the community leader had been held in the area for so long he was having extreme difficulties breathing. Soldiers then forced participants to carry the two out of the area not by the way they came but around the other side of the area, so as not to be in the way of the ongoing shooting of gas on the opposite side of the hill. So medics and activists had to pick their way back through the land that had been burned by a fire ignited by a tear gas canister earlier in the week and across the river of sewage to wait for a car to evacuate the two injured. It was assumed that the demonstration was met with relatively less violence than in previous demonstrations (‘only’ the use of tear gas and sound grenades) because the Israeli military was holding a press conference about their excessive use of violence against demonstrators 3 days earlier when nearly 30 people were injured as the demonstration Wednesday was going on.
If the Annexation Barrier is completed on its designated path through Ni’lin, the residents of the village will be left with less than 15% of the land they originally owned pre-1948.

Thanks to Oren Ziv at Activestills for the use of his photographs in this and many other reports.