Third critical injury from tear gas canister in Ni’lin
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Third critical injury from tear gas canister in Ni’lin

***image1***Occupation forces have shown no change in their increasingly violent response to the weekly demonstrations in Ni’lin and Bil’in against the Apartheid Wall. 15 people were injured, among them Mustafa ‘Amira, who was critically wounded after being shot in the head with a tear gas canister. Soldiers also arrested another young man, who was beaten severely in custody.

In Ni’lin, where 300 Palestinians and international supporters gathered to march in protest against the Apartheid Wall, snipers were deployed in an under-construction building and armed soldiers in the fields and streets. Occupation forces fired excessive rounds of tear gas and young men and boys responded by throwing stones. More tear gas and live ammunition followed, ultimately preventing the march from taking place.

Seven people were injured, including Mustafa ‘Amira, who was shot at close range by a tear gas canister in the back of his head, and another man who was shot in the leg with a lead bullet. Both were rushed to a Ramallah hospital, where after surgery Mustafa ‘Amira condition was stabilized.

During the demonstration, soldiers also beat and arrested Muhanid Ahmed Khawajeh. An eyewitness reported that soldiers continued to beat Khawajeh after he had been detained. He is still in prison, joining the remaining two prisoners from al-Ma’sara.

Bi’lin demonstrations mirrored Ni’lin, where the large crowd of residents and international delegates were prevented from reaching the Wall by road blockages and attacks. Dozens suffered gas inhalation and nine were shot with rubber coated steel bullets. Among those injured were Adeeb Aburahma, Omar Hisham Nasser, and fifteen year old Ahmad Aburahma.

Repression of anti-Wall demonstrations has been mounting. In addition to live ammunition, soldiers have been employing high velocity tear gas rounds against protestors, and Mustafa ‘Amira is the latest in a series of incidents. Last month, Basem Abu Rahma was killed by one of these rounds in Bil’in, and prior to that American activist Tristian Anderson was nearly killed after being shot in the head in Ni’lin.

While the tactics employed may be new, however, the use of lethal force against demonstrations is far from novel. In the last ten months, the Occupation forces have murdered four people in Ni’lin. Ten year old Ahmed Mousa was shot in the forehead with live ammunition 29 July 2008; seventeen year old Yousef Amira was shot twice with rubber-coated steel bullets 30 July 30 2008; twenty-two year old Arafat Rateb Khawaje was shot in the back with live ammunition on 28 December 2008; and on the same day twenty year old Mohammed Khawaje was shot in the head with live ammunition.