By: Daniel Breslau
Week 2,003 of occupation
20 October 2005 - 26 October 2005
Bil`in demonstrators are guinea pigs for new weaponry
The nonviolent demonstrators opposing the construction of the annexation wall in Bil`in have been attacked by a range of painful and dangerous experimental crowd-control weapons. In the eight months of weekly Friday marches, the residents of Bil`in, joined by Israeli and international activists, have been subjected to huge quantities of tear gas, rubber bullets, disguised infiltrators, salt bullets, sound grenades, sound trucks, sponge projectiles, beatings, and, beginning 21 October, beanbags. The small bean bags are shot from the same guns used to fire teargas cannisters and cause painful bruises without penetrating the skin.
Participants in the Bil`in protests have claimed a small victory. The IDF, at least for now, has decided not to prevent the marches from taking place, and not to detain organizers or nonviolent participants.
On Thursday, 20 October, IDF troops shot dead a Palestinian teen whom they claimed was throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli cars was near the town of Hussan, west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. 16-year-old Akram Zaor was hit with live fire to the chest. Eyewitnesses reported that Zaor had thrown only stones, not molotov cocktails.
On Friday evening, two Palestinian youths were killed by IDF soldiers near Tuk Karm. IDF sources said that the two had fired at soldiers, and one, Ra`ed Ahmed Ali Shehada, was found dead with a hunting rifle nearby. According to Palestinian medical sources, Shehada was hit by at least 30 live bullets throughout the body. Palestinian witnesses disputed the story, saying that there had been no exchange of fire.
On Saturday evening Israeli soldiers shot dead an unarmed 19-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank city of Ramallah. IDF sources claimed the man was trying to plan a roadside bomb. According to source, reserve infantry soldiers spotted two Palestinians placing a suspicious bag on the road leading to the nearby the settlement of Neveh Tzuf. The troops, suspecting the bag contained a bomb, then opened fire on the Palestinians, killing Abdullah Yahia, 18, from the village of Deir Netham, near Ramallah. The army admitted later that they found out that the bag did not contain any kind of explosives or weapons.
Disengagement never happened
International organizations were led to believe that Israel`s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip would entail turning over the Strip to Palestinian control. These expectiations have not been met. James Wolfensohn, the Quartet`s envoy for the roadmap, has written a letter to UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan, stating that Israel`s continued control over all movement in and out of the Gaza Strip is severely inhibiting any economic development, and further contributing to the political chaos. Israel has severely restricted any movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and between the Gaza Strip and Egypt throught the Rafah crossing.
Israel`s war with the Islamic Jihad continues
On Monday, Israeli forces killed Luay Sa`adi, leader of the al Kuds Brigades of the Islamic Jihad, in Tul Karm. Israel has linked Sa`adi to a number of suicide attacks. Eyewitnesses and the Palestine Centre for Human Rights describe the event as an extra-judicial execuation. The killing was followed by renewed Qassam rockets fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israel responded by repeatedly shelling open areas around the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, and staging mock attacks over Palestinian towns, frightening the residents with the sonic booms of F-16 jets.
Then, in a move that the Jihad announced was to avenge Sa`adi`s killing, a suicide bombing in Hadera on Wednesday killed five Israelis and injured over 50.
In response, Israel initiated a major campaign in the northern Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank, placing a closure on all Palestinian towns in the area. Israel reimposed recently lifted limitations on freedom of movement for the entire Palestinian population, including closure of the Gaza Strip.
Sources: IMEMC, Ha`aretz, Palestine Centre for Human Rights, International Solidarity Movement.