Arrests, Injuries and a Broken Barrier in Friday Demonstrations

20 March 2010

During this week, Friday demonstrations were held in Nabi Saleh and Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem against settlement expansion, and Bil’in, Ni’lin, Al-Ma’asara, and Budrus against the Annexation Barrier and in commemoration of the 7 year anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie.
In Nabi Saleh, an international from the International Solidarity Movement was shot from close range in the arm with a rubber-coated steel bullet, breaking her wrist and causing her to be hospitalized. Additionally, three Palestinians, one holding Israeli and American citizenship (ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf) along with 2 male residents of Nabi Saleh were arrested while trying to prevent the Israeli military from firing on people helping to evacuation of the injured international.
Arraf was released the next day without charge, while the two men are still being held in military prison awaiting a hearing.

Both Ni’lin and Bil’in held demonstrations with international and Israeli supporters despite a declaration earlier in the week that both villages would be closed military zones for internationals and Israelis on every Friday for the next 6 months, in an attempt by the Israeli military to end the demonstrations.

In Al-Ma’asara, the demonstration proceeded as usual, with demonstrators marching towards the barbed wire fencing put in place at the entrance of the village by the Israeli military. This week, however, an unusual breach of the barrier was achieved. An eyewitness described it thus:

“Yesterday was a historic day in Palestine. The Israeli Occupation Forces stood aside powerless as they witnessed a mass Palestinian non-violent action that breached the razor wire, military vehicles and M-16s that had stopped the villagers of al Ma asara from working their fields for years.

In a peaceful commemoration of the seventh anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie under the tracks of an Israeli bulldozer, PSP, internationals and Israeli activists accompanied local farmers in a demonstration along the main street through the quiet village. As usual there was a strong military presence gathered behind a roll of razor wire that cut off access to the farmland.

Suddenly a flock of Palestinian sheep made a non-violent dash for the razor wire to cheers and whoops from the protesters. In a slickly co-ordinated move, protesters lifted the roll of razor wire and the IOF soldiers watched powerless as the Palestinian sheep rushed past them chanting Baa. It is hoped that other sheep in the international community will now follow this brave lead.”