A scene from today’s protest in Bil’in. (Photo: Hamde Abu Rahmah )
The following was just sent out by organizers in Bil’in:
Ashraf Al-Khatib was shot in the leg with a 0.22” caliber live bullet at the weekly demonstration against the illegal apartheid wall. An international nonviolent activist was also hit in the shoulder with a low-flying tear gas canister. The hundreds of other participants were attacked with huge quantities of tear gas.
The weekly protest is against land theft by the illegal apartheid wall and the Israeli occupation in general. This week, the marchers also expressed solidarity with Palestinians in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) where a Silwan resident was shot dead by an Israeli settler security guard on Wednesday morning.
Two hundred Palestinians accompanied by around thirty international and Israeli activists assembled at the village’s Mosque after noon and marched towards the apartheid wall, chanting “no, no, to the wall” and “Free! Free! Palestine.” Around forty Israeli soldiers ran out of the gate to the settlement as they saw the march approaching, blockading the road.
Protesters marched up to the soldiers and confronted them, demanding to be allowed to walk on the village’s land, which even the Israeli High Court conceded was Palestinian in 2007. The soldiers did not allow anyone through, using their shields to aggressively push back the peaceful demonstrators. One Palestinian activist tried to fasten a poster to a soldier’s shield saying “Free Adeeb Abu Rahma,” referring to one of Bil`in’s four political prisoners held by Israel for organizing the weekly protests. The commander was seen indicating to his soldiers that he wants them to target Ashraf Al-Khatib.
The group demonstrated with the soldiers for thirty minutes until a youth threw a stone and the soldiers responded by firing huge quantities of tear gas at the peaceful crowd, many of whom proceeded to suffer breathing difficulties. One international activist was hit in the shoulder with a low-flying tear gas canister. A group of youths began throwing stones towards the soldiers, and three photographers stood next to the soldiers were hit.
Ashraf Al-Khatib, a Bil`in resident aged 31, was shot with 0.22” caliber live bullet which hit him in the lower leg. No warning shots were heard beforehand. Unable to stand, he was hurriedly carried by Palestinian and international demonstrators towards the village as he bled heavily from his calf. When Al-Khatib first fell, all of the soldiers ran forwards in an attempt to arrest him, but the demonstrators were able to successfully load him into a car before the soldiers caught them. As the car drove away the soldiers retreated, and the demonstrators walked back to the village, the demonstration lasting around one hour in total.
Upon Al-Khatib’s arrival at hospital, it was found the 0.22” caliber round had smashed the bone in his leg.