KILLED & CRITICALLY INJURED PROTESTERS - Ni’ilin, West Bank
Last Friday 13th March, 2009, as every Friday, Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank village of Ni’lin were joined by international activists in an area Israel has declared a closed military zone. These demonstrators stand peacefully together to protest and resist the construction of the separation wall, the continuing demolition of Palestinian homes and the confiscation of Palestinian land. Israel’s actions, performed under the pretext of security requirements, underpin continuing and illegal Israeli settlement expansion. Demonstrators seek to defend Palestinian homes and lands and to resist the daily onslaught and destruction of Palestinian livelihoods.
The Israeli military response to these demonstrations is frequently one of extreme violence and repressive force. In the last six months alone, four of Ni’lin's residents have been shot dead during these demonstrations. Ahmed Mousa, age 10, was shot in the forehead with live ammunition on July 29, 2008. The following day, Yousef Amira, 17 years old, was shot twice with rubber-coated steel bullets, leaving him brain dead (he died a week later on August 4, 2008). Arafat Rateb Khawaje, 22 was shot in the back with live ammunition on December 28, 2008 and the same day, Mohammed Khawaje, 20, was shot in the head with live ammunition, leaving him brain dead (he died three days later in a Ramallah hospital).
On Friday, Tristan Anderson, a 38 year old American citizen, was critically injured by Israeli troops. He was shot in the head with a new type of high velocity, extended range teargas projectile; he has been transferred to Tel Hashomer hospital, near Tel Aviv, and remains unconscious; part of his right frontal lobe has been removed as a result of the injury.
Gabrielle Silverman, Tristan’s girlfriend also present at the demonstration, spoke to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now [16th March, 2009] and emphasised that:
“…there was also a Palestinian man who was shot with live ammunition in the leg [during the demonstration], which is actually barely a newsworthy thing to report at all, because this is standard operating procedure in the West Bank, to use live ammunition on Palestinian people.
The fact that Tristan was shot in the head on Friday has to do with one of two possibilities: either they shot Tristan in the head because they thought he was a Palestinian or because the army was randomly opening fire into the crowd. One or the other happened. And either way, this is a very serious problem, a very, very serious problem with the conduct of the Israeli army in Palestine…”
This kind of destructive military response is commonplace for Palestinians who live in the West Bank and these acts are but small reflections of the overwhelming devastation of lives and homes witnessed in Gaza during operation ‘Cast Lead’. It is hard not to conclude that using snipers and aiming tear gas canisters directly at protesters at close ranges, reveals an explicit desire to wound, maim, seriously injure and kill demonstrators.
Gabrielle Silverman again: “…We need to be paying attention to this, not just because Tristan, an American, was shot on Friday, but because lots of people are getting shot all the time …
I came to Israel and to Palestine because I wanted to see for myself, I wanted to know for myself, as an American, as a Jew, what is going on out here. And what I discovered is that the level of occupation and apartheid-like conditions are much more extreme than I ever could have imagined…we need a much stronger movement…a much stronger movement for accountability and…from our government towards Israel.”
For there to be accountability, we need these incidents to be reported and acknowledged.