Israeli Activist Viciously Attacked in Anti-Barrier Demonstration
On Friday, June 27th, activists gathered in Al-Ma’asara, Betlehem District, for the weekly demonstration against the Annexation Barrier. This week, about 40 Palestinian activists were joined by about 20 Israelis and internationals.
At recent Al-Ma’asara demonstrations, activists have succeeded in partially opening the razor wire barrier. This week, a gap between the edge of the fence and the nearest permanent structure was blocked with pallets of stone tiles. The activists decided to attempt to go around the fence by climbing over the tiles.
After about 20 minutes, Israeli, international, and Palestinian protesters dashed toward the pallets and began climbing over the tiles. About a dozen soldiers and 2 police officers surrounded the group and attempted to arrest an Israeli activist. Three internationals held onto the Israeli, preventing the soldiers from dragging him away.
A few minutes later, more participants climbed over and onto the pallets shouting at the soldiers in English and Hebrew asking “where is the democracy?” Again, soldiers isolated one Israeli activist who was simply standing in the “wrong” place, grabbing him by the neck and throwing him violently to the ground. Other activists immediately piled on top of him and tried to prevent the police officers and soldiers who were viciously beating him. They then began hitting, pinching, and kicking the other activists in an attempt to pull them apart. After putting handcuffs on the Israeli activist, the soldiers managed to drag him away from the group. They then increased their ferociousness, kicking him and eventually hitting him in the back with a rifle, making him scream out in agony. He was then thrown into the side of the police jeep and eventually into the back.
The rest of the demonstrators then moved back behind the razor-wire fence and sat down, demonstrating their desire for non-violence, as people negotiated for the release of the injured activist. Rather than releasing the man, however, after having a military medic examine him and see the extensive injury he received from the soldiers, the commander then declared that he was being charged with assaulting one of the soldiers and would be taken to the hospital.
Israeli activists and internationals with IWPS and PSP quickly checked their footage, which clearly showed that the man arrested was simply standing as part of a group just before he was grabbed by the soldiers and had not attacked or even interacted with the soldiers before then. Activists informed the soldiers that there was clear footage of the incident and he was released soon afterward. He was taken directly to the hospital where it was confirmed that he had a badly bruised rib.