Young boy critically injured in Nabi Saleh
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Young boy critically injured in Nabi Saleh

A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was critically injured during a demonstration Friday in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah. Ehab Fadel Barghouthi was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet; doctors said the bullet entered his forehead above his right eye and penetrated his brain.

Barghouthi remains in critical condition in Ramallah Hospital. Surgeons removed the bullet and predict possible damage to the youth’s right eye and paralysis of his hand and leg. Doctors emphasized the critical nature of Barghouthi’s condition, and said it is too early to determine the extent of his recovery.

Nabi Saleh, a village of 500 people, has been the scene of weekly demonstrations since January, when residents gathered to gain access to their agricultural lands and to protest confiscation of village land by the Israeli settlement of Halamish.

Halamish, conceived in 1978, is situated on land belonging to the villages of Nabi Saleh and Deir Nizam, both of which experience daily military and settler harassment. Due to the Wall and the closing off of the West Bank, a large percentage of Nabi Saleh’s workforce has lost their jobs across the Green Line. Residents say the majority of the permits for these workers are no longer being issued. Violence by settlers is escalating, villagers say, and so is harassment from soldiers who inhabit the military base next to Nabi Saleh. Shepherds are prohibited from grazing with their flocks and 400 olive trees belonging to the two villages have been destroyed. Villagers report that settler attacks are unfailingly committed while under the protection of the army.

Nabi Saleh residents report that much of the recently confiscated land contains water resources – wells and springs – and that when villagers visit water areas for agricultural or recreational purposes, they are frequently driven out by settlers.

Israeli occupation forces have prevented both media and medics from accessing Nabi Saleh during demonstrations by closing off the entrance to the village. Witnesses say that in this Friday’s demonstration, attended by approximately 150 people, Border Police officers took up positions from the rooftop of a house on the edge of the village, and that Barghouthi was standing 20 meters from the house when he was shot. He immediately collapsed and was evacuated unconscious to Salfeet, and then to Ramallah Hospital.
This serious injury is yet another tragic example of the Israeli policy to target children to terrify and repress entire communities. The demonstration was still within the range of the village when the Israeli military attacked the residents. The child clearly posed no threat to anybody.
In addition to Barghouthi, nine other people were injured, including two journalists and an 18-year-old woman who was hit with projectile from an aluminum tear-gas container.

For participation or mere suspicion of participation in the weekly demonstrations, nine residents of the two villages have been arrested, with five arrests occurring last week alone.