Student shot with live bullets at Land Day protest
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Student shot with live bullets at Land Day protest

Friday saw the wrapping up of Land Day activities in the Bethlehem and Ramallah areas. This week villages joined together in protest, and one person shot with live ammunition. People gathered in Irtas to plant trees before joining the weekly Ma’sara demonstration. In Ni’lin and Bi’lin organizers finished out the week around Land Day with weekly protests against the Wall, and the youth of Jayyous also continued their weekly actions.

***image2*** In Ni’lin, Occupation forces invaded the village early, around ten in the morning, taking up positions on top of the medical clinic and private homes, where they fired upon villagers in an attempt to prevent them from praying on their threatened land.

Throughout the course of the day, five people were injured by rubber bullets and dozens more affected from gas inhalation. Muhammed Abdelhafid Musleh, a local university student, was shot in the arm with live ammunition and was rushed to a hospital in Ramallah. In addition, a tear gas bomb exploded inside the home of Hasan Abdullah ‘Amira, starting a fire which burned household items and furniture.

In Bi’lin, demonstrators marched through the streets of the village, carrying Palestinian flags, signs and banners. Soldiers stationed behind concrete blocks fired on the crowd as it tried to approach the Wall, and dozens were injured from gas or rubber bullets, including several journalists.

Occupation forces have also reinstituted nightly raids on the village, wherein soldiers enter and fire off sound and gas bombs as well as live and rubber bullets. This serves to create a general climate of fear, and is especially terrifying to children.

In both villages, organizers held their respective demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Jerusalem. In addition to the Bustan neighborhood in Silwan, several other homes in Sheikh Jarrah belonging to the Hanoun and al-Ghawi families have also been targeted by Occupation authorities and settlers. Today, the so-called High Court upheld the eviction orders, sanctioning the displacement of more than 50 people and rewarding their homes to settlers.

In Bethlehem area Land Day activities, upwards of 300 people gathered in Irtas, where they planted more than 100 olive trees on threatened land. Some 1,700 dunums have recently been taken from both Irtas and the nearby village of al-Khader for the expansion of the Efrat settlement.

Following the tree planting, most of the participants joined in the weekly demonstration in al-Ma’sara. Villagers marched to their land, where they physically confronted the soldiers who blocked the road.

In Jayyous, youth marched to the south gate, but were barred from reaching the area by the army. The location of the demonstration then shifted, and people threw stones at the Wall in protest. Soldiers then attacked the demonstration, and clashes ensued, with the army entering and occupying several homes. Confrontations lasted until sundown, and two youth were shot with rubber bullets.

The protests and activities in Ramallah and Bethlehem mark the final Land Day actions as well as the strengthening of the boycott movement nationally. Omar Asaf, a representative of the BNC and a member of the National Higher Committee for the Defense of the Right of Return explained, “in Palestine the boycott of Israeli products, institutions and companies is once again gaining ground. Increasing numbers of students, women and ordinary people see the boycott of Israel as an effective form of resistance and are beginning to make it a part of their daily lives.”