Bulldozers Pushed Away Again, Palestinian, Israeli, and International Arrested

8 August 2008

Shortly after 11:00am Thursday, August 7, a group of approximately 50 Palestinian, international, and Israeli activists approached the worksite of the Annexation Barrier outside of Ni’lin. The area contained approximately 20 members of the Israeli Occupation Forces and a private security officer. Initially, soldiers responded to the activists’ presence with a minimal use of force, and Palestinian activists, along with Israeli members of Anarchists Against the Wall and internationals were able to closely approach one of the bulldozers. One Palestinian activist jumped onto the hood of the bulldozer and broke the windshield with a thrown stone. Demonstrators were successful in forcing the heavy equipment off site and interrupting operations for nearly 30 minutes.

Over the course of several minutes, soldiers became increasingly aggressive, shoving activists away from the bulldozers, forcing activists to the ground, and dragging at least one female activist by her hair. A Palestinian participant suffered what appeared to be a grand mal seizure and was taken to the hospital in Ramallah; one observer later reported that the seizure was caused by a close-range shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet. Soldiers then attacked Mohammed Amira, a leader in the Anti-Wall movement in Ni’lin, and several international activists. Though the international activists were ultimately not arrested, Mohammed was taken. He will likely be held for 8 days before being brought to a military court.
A short time later an Israeli activist was also arrested. He was held in jail overnight and brought in front of the Israeli ‘Peace’ Court the next day, where he was charged, among other things, with supporting terrorism. He was then banned from the West Bank for 7 days.

Later, demonstrators retreated slowly towards the Ni’lin medical clinic, pursued by tear gas grenades launched by the soldiers. Over the next half hour or so Palestinian youth from the village began to sling stones in the direction of the soldiers, while the soldiers launched frequent tear gas grenades and occasional rubber bullets. At one point, a tear gas grenade landed directly outside the door of the Ni’lin medical clinic, which was open, dousing the medical staff with tear gas.

At approximately 2:30pm, soldiers chased Palestinian stone throwers into their village. The soldiers then entered the courtyard of a nearby house where other international observers had hid. They then arrested one French national. As of the writing of this report his whereabouts are unknown.