***image1***As usual, the protest started after the prayer with more than 200 hundred farmers, Israeli and international peace activists from France, Sweden and England. Demonstrators were carrying Palestinian flags, calling for an end to the occupation and freedom for all Palestinian prisoners. Youth were also carrying pictures of Mohammad Othman and shouting for his release.
Mohammad was arrested at Allenby Bridge last Tuesday, 22 September 2009, while coming back from an advocacy tour in Norway. He has been held in detention since then and the charges against him are unknown. It is believed that he has been detained solely for his human rights advocacy work.
Since Mohammad is active with the Stop The Wall Campaign, the youth in Niâlin know him very well. The village wanted to show their support for him through this demonstration.
The demonstrators reached the area near the Wall, where Occupation soldiers and jeeps were awaiting them on the other side. The army started shooting dozens of tear gas canisters immediately into the demonstration. âNothing will hold us back,â demonstrators were shouting, calling for the army to leave the area. When the army refused to leave, youth started throwing stones over the Wall and to the sensors on the fence. Soldiers responded with more teargas canisters and sprayed sewage waste water onto the demonstrators. This forced the demonstrators to move back from the Wall.
The demonstration moved to another part of the area, where there is a fence erected. About one hundred soldiers followed the demonstrators from the other side of the fence, including Israeli TV Channel 10, who was filming the demonstration under the âprotectionâ of the Israeli soldiers. Once the soldiers and their jeeps arrived, they launched an enormous amount of teargas canisters with a special machine, which covered the whole area in smoke from the teargas. Most people were experiencing respiratory problems, and two boys of 14 and 15 years old lost consciousness. In addition, another twenty people were treated by Palestinian Red Crescent volunteers for breathing problems. The soldiers themselves however, were wearing tear gas masks to protect themselves, which was viewed by the demonstrators as a small victory. âNew costs added to the Occupation forces!â one participant shouted.
After four hours, around 20 soldiers came through one of the gates in the electric fence, shooting live ammunition at people and chasing people down. They arrested three people including Israeli photographer David Reeb, who was shot with live ammunition in another Niâlin demonstration a couple of weeks. They also arrested Maxene Emguy, a French visitor to Palestine and Maiy from Sweden.
Report and photos Ahmad Mesleh – Niâlin Youth Center