Children’s Circus Tear Gassed in Al Ma’asara

1 October 2010

A children’s circus was tear gassed in Al Ma’asara today following the weekly demonstration against the annexation barrier. Like every week, protesters gathered in the center of the village after midday prayer. A crowd of about twenty demonstrators marched to the edge of the village carrying banners, waving flags and chanting against the occupation and the settlements. This week’s demonstration commemorated the anniversary of the second intifada, a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation which began in October of 2000. The demonstration also marked the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian activist famous for leading his people in a nonviolent revolution against the British occupation of India.

A Palestinian flag hangs from the back of an Israeli military jeep.

Soldiers fired tear gas and sound grenades on the demonstrators, who gave speeches against the occupation and in support of nonviolent resistance. While the demonstrators were barred from reaching the road, a settler from the illegal Efrat settlement was allow to drive past the soldiers into the village. The settler parked at near the demonstrators and began telling the village residents that they were on his land, despite having previously admitted that he was from San Francisco, California. While the settler was talking a demonstrator covertly tied a Palestinian flag to the back of a military jeep. The soldiers eventually drove away with the flag still flying from their jeep.

Clowns perform for children moments before being fired on with tear gas.

After the demonstration finished, the crowd gathered around two clowns, who had come to perform for the children of the village. Half way through their act the soldiers returned and barraged the crowd with tear gas and sound grenades. Both clowns and many children suffered tear gas inhalation as they were chased back to the village. Soldiers proceeded to fired tear gas into the residential area of the village, and many village residents suffered tear gas inhalation.

“I know haven’t rehearsed in a while, but that seems like a bit of an overreaction,” one of the clowns commented.