“Shoe Demonstrations” Across Occupied Palestine; Journalist Shot in Ni’lin

21 December 2008

In Ni’lin Friday, demonstrators carried shoes on the ends of long sticks. In Bil’in, they were thrown at Israeli Occupation soldiers and beaten against pictures of George Bush, all in an “homage” to the imprisoned Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at George Bush during a press conference last week. In Arab countries, as the entire western world now knows, hitting someone with your shoes is the gravest of insults. On Friday across Occupied Palestine, Palestinians showed not only their deep disgust with the policies of the Israeli Occupation Forces, the construction of the Annexation Barrier and the assaults on non-violent protest, but also their anger at George Bush and American policies that have affected not only Iraq, but everyone in the region. In Ni’lin, the demonstration began as a prayer in the olive groves, then a march towards the construction site, which now looks like a wide dirt road winding its way through Palestinian land. A few youth, accompanied by 2 solidarity activists, climbed down to the site of the construction and began building their own roadblock in an attempt to block the way for Israeli military jeeps to approach the demonstration from the settlement. Before they got very far, however, two jeeps sped towards them, forcing the small group to climb back up the hill. The demonstration then continued with energetic attempts by Palestinians to get back to the construction site, though they were forced back towards the village eventually by the Israeli military who were shooting tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators and rubber-coated steel bullets from within 40 meters, both in direct violation of their own rules and international regulations.
One cameraman from Press TV was shot in the left calf from less than 40 meters, resulting in the rubber-coated steel bullet penetrating his leg, even though he was wearing a florescent yellow vest with the word “press” written on it. As medics and solidarity activists tried to approach to help him they, too, were shot at from within 20 meters by soldiers who could clearly see them with hands raised over their heads. Eventually he was taken to the hospital.

Soldiers then invaded the village full-scale, shooting tear gas into and around homes and damaging property in the process. Another journalist was taken to the hospital after losing consciousness due to too much tear gas inhalation. Soldiers also threw a tear gas canister under an ambulance while medics were treating someone for tear gas inhalation. The medics themselves then had to be evacuated to a local clinic and treated. Soldiers also shot a tear gas canister at the front of another Red Crescent Ambulance, denting the hood. Soldiers have often targeted ambulances, particularly in Ni’lin, in a gross violation of international law regarding conflict areas. In all, 7 people were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets, 1 with a serious injury, and 3 people were treated for tear gas inhalation. Journalists once again are being targeted by the Israeli military, presumably in an attempt to silence coverage of their violent response to unarmed resistance.