Mazin Qumsiyeh and 2 others arrested, 3 wounded in al-Walaja
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Mazin Qumsiyeh and 2 others arrested, 3 wounded in al-Walaja

This morning, May 6, Israeli occupation forces arrested the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Apartheid Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh. Dr. Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities. They also arrested the brothers Zia (33 years)and Nafiz Hamdan (23 years)and an international activist. The military handcuffed them and took them to an unknown destination.

All three Palestinians were released in the evening. For an account of their ordeal with the Israeli occupation forces, please click here.

***image2***Three protesters were severely injured. Occupation forces sprayed a new kind of gas, never before used in al-Walaja, directly into the eyes of one of the protesters so that he was unable to open his eyes in order to see. They then beat him with batons and rifle butts until they broke a rib in his chest. A second protester had this same new type of gas sprayed directly into his ear and developed such a severe reaction to it that he had to be brought to Beit Jala hospital for treatment. The third was injured in his foot while trying to escape arrest. Eyewitnesses reported that a number of Israeli soldiers beat him and tried to arrest him but demonstrators were able to free him and prevent his arrest. However, while freeing him he sustained a major injury in his foot and was bleeding heavily.

This all happened during a protest called for this morning, aimed at stopping the work of the bulldozers, which are currently destroying al-Walaja’s farmland, in order to prepare the ground for the Apartheid Wall. At 8 am people from al-Walaja and international solidarity activists gathered in the village center and then marched towards the land on which the bulldozers operate. They sat down in front of a bulldozer in order to prevent it from destroying the land. A large force of Israeli military then cracked down on the demonstrators with batons and rifle butts and kicked and beat the protester, spraying the new gas into the eyes of the demonstrators.

The new type of gas used by the occupation forces in al-Walaja for the first time, comes in small bottles and is sprayed directly into the eyes and face. It leads to severe burning in the eyes and consequently people are unable to open them for about an hour. They also experience difficulty in breathing through the nose and mouth for as long as several hours.