Friday, May 12, 2006
NOTHING UNUSUAL HERE
Several persons were shot by Israeli Border Police while taking part in a weekly protest against the Wall. It nothing unusual and that is point isn't it.
The following is from Haaretz. The second is a statement from the International Solidarity Movement itself.
Border Police fire on anti-fence protesters in Bil'in, wounding 3
Three demonstrators were wounded on Friday afternoon in clashes with security officers during a protest against the separation fence in the West Bank village of Bil'in.
Border Police officers fired rubber bullets on the demonstrators, wounding a French photographer and two other members of the International Solidarity Movement.
The three international activists were evacuated, the photographer to a nearby Ramallah hospital and the other two to the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
According to reports by other demonstrators, one of the activists was hit in the head from a dangerously close range of about 15 meters.
Israeli, international and Palestinian activists protest every Friday against the route of the separation fence being constructed next to the village. Some 150 demonstrators came out for Friday's protest.
Israeli Soldiers Shoot Two International Peace Activists In The Head at Bil’in
At today’s Bil’in demonstration, Israeli soldiers shot one Australian and one Danish demonstrator in the head with rubber-coated steel bullets at close range. Phil Reess from Australia was shot as he was running away – he had been filming the demonstration. BJ Lund from Denmark was also shot as he was standing near army jeeps. American eyewitness Zadie Susser saw Phil sitting in shock immediately after he was hit: “I saw blood gushing out of his head, and helped bandage it. As we were getting him into the ambulance an Israeli soldier grabbed his long hair and they all tried to stop him from leaving in the ambulance even though they knew he was injured”.
Both Phil and BJ are currently in Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel-Aviv. The bullet caused a hemorrhage to Phil’s brain, though he is now conscious. BJ required stitches to the head. Eight Palestinians were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets: Abed Al Karim (60) was hit in his private parts, Adeba Yasin (65) was hit by a rubber coated bullet under her eye, Abed Albash Abu Rahma (15) was hit on his thigh and Waled Mahmoud Abu Rahma (20) was hit on his abdomen. Ashraf Muhamad Jamal (24) was tear gassed and Abdullah Abu-Rahme (35 and the Co-ordinatior of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall), Muhammad Al Katib (32, also from the Popular Committee) and Akram Al Katib (34) were beaten.
The video footage that Phil was filming when he was shot is available from the ISM Media office on request. In it you can see how close they were to the soldiers when they opened fire - the sound of the shots fired is clearly audible.
The demonstration of about 300 people had marched, singing, chanting and waving flags to the gate in the apartheid barrier. This week, the gate had been locked open, so the Israeli soldiers relied on their jeeps and barbed wire to stop the people of Bil’in from walking into their land. After a while, some of the demonstrators started to open the barbed wire. The Israeli soldiers started hitting people with clubs. A few rocks were thrown from a small group of youth who were away from the main demonstration in front of the jeeps. The soldiers then started firing on the peaceful demonstrators at near point-blank range as they were running away – they were a maximum distance of 10 meters away when shot. According to Israeli Human Rights group B’Tselem, Israeli Military Regulations stipulate that “the minimum range for firing rubber-coated steel bullets is forty meters. The Regulations emphasize that the bullets must be fired only at the individual’s legs, and are not to be fired at children” . Israeli soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian children during the Bil’in demonstration every week.
Although the presence of international and Israeli witnesses at Palestinian demonstrations largely means that the Israeli military uses less violence than on demonstrations in which Palestinians are alone and thus shot at with live ammunition, they have also shot internationals. British attorney general, Lord Goldsmith confirmed on the 6th of May he was considering whether to seek the extradition and prosecution of an Israeli soldier who shot dead British cameraman James Miller in Gaza, after a jury in a British inquest unanimously agreed that “Mr Miller was indeed murdered” . Israeli demonstrator Matan Cohen was recently shot in the eye during a demonstration in Beit Sira. He now has only partial sight in that eye. Eleven Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers during non-violent demonstrations against the apartheid wall.
For more information call:
ISM Media office: 02 297 1824
Zadie Susser: 054 590 2319