Dozens of people suffered from inhalation of tear gas fired by Israeli troops at a protest commemorating the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma last week by tear gas inhalation. Two of the protesters were rendered unconscious by the experimental gas, and one protest organizer was hit by a canister.The protesters gathered around noon in the village of Bil’in, and held signs and pictures of 42-year old Jawaher Abu Rahme, who died from tear gas inhalation after a demonstration against the Wall last Friday. Her death put Bil’in into the headlines of major media — something which none of the other 12 demonstrators killed in the last six years of non-violent demonstrations managed to do.
A number of Palestinians wore yellow stars saying, ‘Palestinian’, reminiscent of the stars that Jews were required to wear by the Nazi regime in the early 1940s. They were joined by Israeli supporters who had to sneak into the West Bank by circuitous routes, as their presence in most of the West Bank is illegal by Israeli law.
Womens’ organizations led the demonstrators from the center of the village toward the site of the Israeli electric fence construction, chanting slogans and carrying banners and flags. Israeli forces stationed at the top of a hill on the other side of the fence immediately began firing tear gas and other so-called ‘non-lethal weapons’, including rubber-coated steel bullets and sound grenades, into the crowd.
According to demonstrator Alice Rothchild, ‘Tear gas canisters were sometimes shot into the air, spiraling down to hit the ground creating a huge white cloud of gas. Sometimes the soldiers shot directly at protesters, I could see them crouching and taking aim. There was also a large white truck that repeatedly sprayed a huge arc of white liquid that smelled like a cross between skunk and feces and is apparently difficult to get off one’s body once sprayed.’
One of the organizers of the non-violent movement in Bil’in, Eyad Bernat, was hit by a rubber-coated steel bullet, and Mustafa Shawkat and the wife of protest organizer Ahmed Abu Rahma were rendered unconscious by tear gas.
The non-violent weekly protest in Bil’in village has taken place every Friday for the last six years to challenge the Israeli Annexation Wall, the construction of which has seized over half the land area of the farming village to annex it to nearby Israeli colonial settlements.