11 Killed, Hundreds Injured at Nakba Day Demonstrations

15 May 2011

Fire and soldiers in Aroub Camp, Nakba Day, May 15 2011At least 11 people were killed and hundreds injured following demonstrations throughout the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan commemorating the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine, or “Nakba.” In Beit Ommar, one resident was shot in the leg by Israeli soldiers, and another hospitalized due to tear gas inhalation.

On the morning of May 15th, Israeli soldiers gathered near the checkpoint leading out of Beit Ommar, locking the main gate. One group of Israeli soldiers also moved into the terraces south of the main road. At 11:00 am, around forty school girls between the ages of 9 and 15 marched towards army stationed near the main gate, chanting against the Occupation and for Palestinian liberation. They were driven back with tear gas. They attempted to approach the military twice more, but the soldiers again fired tear gas at them. Many canisters landed in the playground of a neighboring preschool, and around 30 preschoolers suffered tear gas inhalation. Young Beit Ommar residents threw stones at the army, who shot tear gas, sound grenades rubber bullets at residents and occupied several houses.

Around 2:00 pm, the army began firing live ammunition into the air. Units occupying houses pulled out and rejoined the main contingent near the gate, and more soldiers arrived to further strengthen these numbers. The IDF then began to move in with jeeps and armored personnel carriers. They occupied a new house along the main road, and fired both tear gas and live ammunition from it. Around the same time what appeared to be an unmanned drone circled above Beit Ommar. It completed several circles over the town before returning towards the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Several helicopters also flew over the village.

Soldiers shot tear gas into the homes of several Beit Ommar residents, and one young man was taken to the hospital from excessive exposure to tear gas. Yousef Abu Hashem, age 18, was shot in the leg with live ammunition. He too was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released that day.

Drone over Beit Ommar, May 15, 2011The army controlled several hundred meters of Beit Ommar’s main street for several hours, chasing off residents with more gas, sound bombs, rubber bullets, and live ammunition. No further injuries were reported to the Palestine Solidarity Project.

The Israeli army also repressed demonstrations in Aroub refugee camp, where refugees from 1948 demanded the right to return to their homes, as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. Youth from the village resisted Israeli incursions into the camp with stones and flaming tires.

Israeli military responses to Nakba Day protests across the region killed and injured many. In Gaza City, one was killed and 80 injured. Near Qalandiya checkpoint, 40 were reported seriously injured. In protests along the Lebanese border, six were killed and 71 injured, while in the Golan Heights, four protesters from Syria were killed and another four seriously injured. Clashes between police, military, and protesters were found throughout the West Bank, and scores were arrested. Reports from Jordan indicate that Jordanian security forces opened fire on Palestinian protesters there, though the number of injuries and deaths is not yet known.