Friday, July 18, 2014

Nabi Saleh demo

One day, some ISMers and I came to Nabi Saleh. There we met with Bassem, and several Israeli activists who also came out.

Joined by a few dozen Palestinians, we marched out on the main road, towards the soldiers. The people marching on the road were peaceful. There was chanting, singing, and clapping. In the crowd were young men, as well as women and some children.

When we were a fair distance from the Israeli soldiers, we heard loud pops, and realized they were shooting teargas. The projectiles flew high above us, and suddenly we were enveloped in what looked to be white smoke. My eyes and throat immediately started burning, and I started stumbling around. I am sure others in the crowd reacted the same way. I fell once, and remembered my ISM training- in the case of teargas, the correct thing to do is to actually not panic. Coughing, spitting is good. Breathe slowly. Try not to run. Walk slowly. Do not take in deep gulps of air. I tripped and fell, and some of the older Palestinian men helped me up.

At that point, some of the young men and boys in the demonstration began splitting far from us, and going to the hills, where there were already 2 other kids waiting. Rocks began to be thrown by them, at the soldiers. None of the rocks thrown that day reached their targets, though two hit the jeep. There were more very loud pops as the soldiers began shooting teargas at them. The clashes continued for a while, then we heard whizzing noises, and saw one of the boys who was throwing rocks fall to the ground. At first people thought, he was shot in the head. Later, as he was carried out, it turns out he was shot through the right hand by a rubber bullet (really, a steel bullet coated in rubber). He had to be taken by an ambulance to a hospital. We later learned that his hand was not broken, but that it did require several stitches.

After the wounded boy was carried away, the youth throwing the rocks began walking away. The clash seemed to be over.

I found it was very telling how the IDF attacked the peaceful demonstrators who were not throwing anything at them. It reminded me of Hebron in 2010, when people who were not being at all violent in any way, were nevertheless tackled and thrown to the ground and arrested.

Also, although I do not condone or support throwing rocks, I can't help but point out that the teens and young men who did so, did everything possible to not place the other demonstrators in danger. They clearly and deliberately moved off the road, and into the hills to wage their battle with the soldiers. After many of the non-rock throwing demonstrators on the road moved back and everyone who wanted to do so had a chance to, it was only then that some of them came back to the road, and threw their stones.

In contrast, the soldiers shot teargas not only at the rock throwing shebab (youth), but also at people who were not being in any way violent towards them.

People getting ready for the rally, and marching towards the soldiers 

My reaction to the teargas. My apologies, but I did utter a bad word as this was happening.

Clashes between the youth and the soldiers

                                             A boy who was shot in the hand

                                 One of the many teargas projectiles that was shot by the soldiers

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