Demonstrations in Ni’lin Halt Construction, Several Injured Including Photographer

18 July 2008

In demonstrations in Ni’lin on July 15 and July 17 hundreds of participants continued an admirable struggle against the construction of the Annexation Barrier and the confiscation of Palestinian land and destruction of ancient olive groves.
On Tuesday, July 15, hundreds of residents of Ni’lin were joined by Israeli and international activists for an afternoon demonstration. After gathering in the center of town, the group marched towards the site of construction where multiple bulldozers were working. They were immediately bombarded with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. When the main group reached within 100 meters of the bulldozers, the drivers quickly took them away, ending work early for the day rather than be confronted by the demonstrators. Several participants were injured, including one Palestinian activist, Mohammed Amira, who was shot in the arm as he had his arms raised from an illegal range of 10 meters with a rubber-coated steel bullet which lodged itself in his arm. He was treated in a hospital in Ramallah where the bullet was removed.

On Thursday, July 17, demonstrators again marched towards the bulldozers, this time splitting into two groups in an attempt to approach the work by two sides. The smaller group moved down towards the bulldozers, building roadblocks along the path to prevent the Israeli forces from following them back into the village. They eventually reached near the bulldozers, stopping work for about half an hour as they were also shot with a barrage of tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Soldiers attempted to arrest a Palestinian organizer but were unsuccessful as supporters assisted him.
Copious amounts of tear gas was shot towards both groups, setting several fires in the olive groves. As demonstrators attempted to put out the fires, they were shot at with rubber-coated steel bullets and even more tear gas. Soldiers were also seen shooting live ammunition, in contradiction to their own rules and international law.
As the demonstrators began moving back towards the village, and while there was no confrontation occurring whatsoever, an Israeli photographer with Activestills was shot from no more than 10 meters in the thigh with a rubber-coated steel bullet. She was also evacuated to a hospital.
The soldiers then pursued the activists into the village, shooting tear gas and live ammunition, including shooting a clearly-marked clinic and several homes with live rounds, the evidence of which was found in the clinic and surrounding areas. In all 12 individuals were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. Thankfully, no one was injured by the Israeli Occupation Forces’ illegal use of live ammunition.