The two international peace activists who were both shot in their heads by the Israeli military at Friday’s anti-wall demonstration in Bil’in have been discharged from hospital, according to a press release from the International Solidarity Movement, a non-violent Palestinian support group.
The organization reported that the two injured volunteers have both been released: Phillip Reiss from Australia was released today, and BJ Lund from Denmark was released yesterday from the Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv.
They are still recovering from their injuries and will meet with a lawyer later today to talk about the possibilities for suing the Israeli Military, after Israeli Border Police shot them both in the head with rubber bullets at close range. Israeli Military regulations stipulate that rubber bullets should be shot at a distance of 40 meters, only at the legs or arms. Several Palestinians were also shot, beaten and tear-gassed on Friday.
BJ has a fracture in his jaw and is suffering from the painful swelling caused by the injury. He still has headaches and can’t chew. There is a lot of fluid and swelling in the jaw muscles which prevents him from opening his mouth. When he was shot he lost hearing in his ear for 10 seconds and now feels pressure in one ear.
“I don’t remember getting hit; when I heard the shooting I just remember turning my head and falling,” BJ said. “There was an explosion next to me and I put my hand on my ear and it was wet. I looked and there was blood all over it. I was stunned until someone grabbed me and just started running. I feel really lucky: if I hadn’t turned my head I could have lost all my teeth.”
Phil described himself as generally okay, despite a large lump on his head, headaches and exhaustion, the nausea and shooting pain has subsided. He was diagnosed with a sub-ural hematoma, swelling cuased by bleeding in the brain, and given 8 stitches for the gash near his temple. He has been prescribed anti-convulsive medication and after 6 weeks will have to return to the hospital for a CT scan. “I feel pretty lucky, I’ll tell you what.” said Phil. “If I was Palestinian it would have been a lot worse ”. The Israeli military often use rubber bullets when Israeli and international demonstrators are present and rubber coated steel bullets on Palestinians when they demonstrate on their own.Both Phil and BJ will have to return to hospital in a week for checkups.
“I feel kind of strange because there is a lot of media attention and we were told that there would be an investigation by the Israeli police, but we are still waiting for them to contact us, and I am wondering if they are going to give us any attention,” BJ reported. He added that in the hospital, “so many doctors wanted to talk politics with us, telling me I should go back to Denmark and work on social things instead of getting involved here.”
When asked how he felt about the soldiers that shot them, Phil responded, “I think they are a bunch of thugs and how they acted was very inappropriate, but I can’t say that I feel angry at them for shooting me.” BJ also was not angry but thought that, “their response was unnecessary because it was a peaceful demonstration. I didn’t see the person who shot us, and I wonder how he can deal with this when he knows they hit someone in the head who wasn’t violent. I hope he didn’t feel good when he went to sleep that night. It is frightening – it just tells me how much more insane the situation is”.