During this weekâs anti-Wall protest in Bilâin, 30 year-old Ashraf Al-Khatib, was shot in the leg by a 0.22ââ calibre bullet, a lethal weapon prohibited for âriot controlâ. Another human rights defender and two journalists were also injured. This escalation of violence against the popular struggle in Palestine comes only days after a settler in Jerusalem killed 28 year-old Samer Sarhan; an event that has sparked protests across the Palestinian capital.
When the weekly anti-Wall protest in Bilâin headed towards the illegal apartheid wall built on the village land, the Israeli military was waiting for the demonstrators sheltered by concrete blocks erected behind the Wall and in front of the Wall gate. Another group of soldiers formed a barrier in front of the demonstrators next to the Wallâs gate. When the demonstrators tried to pass to their lands isolated by the Wall, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) launched sound bombs, rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and 0.22ââ live bullets from different directions towards the protestors. They chased after the demonstrators and shot Ashraf al-Khatib (30 years old) with a 0.22 bullet in the leg. He was taken to the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah for treatments.
Over a year ago, the IOF reintroduced the use of 0.22 rounds. The 0.22 rounds, which are fired from a Ruger 10/22 Suppressed Sniper Rifle, was first introduced when the first Intifada broke out. The weapon was explicitly designed to be less lethal than the 5.56 mm M16/Gilil assault rifle round but more deadly than rubber coated steel bullets. The IOF chose the 0.22, which they used to shoot out the legs of key protest leaders. In the second Intifada, after several children were killed by 0.22 rounds, the weapon was reclassified as lethal and its use for âriot controlâ prohibited.
In addition to Ashraf al-Khatib, Iyad Jadallah (25 years old), a photojournalist for AP, suffered an injury to his head; Haitham al-Khatib (34 years old), a freelance photojournalist, was hit in the chest, and Sameer Burnat (32 years old) was shot in the leg. Dozens suffered symptoms of suffocation from teargas inhalation. The popular committee against the Wall and the settlements in Bilâin condemns this new escalation of violence against the people of Bilâin
This weekâs anti-Wall protest was in solidarity with the imprisoned grassroots activists and organized by the Popular Committee against the Wall and the settlements in Biâlin. The citizens of Biâlin alongside dozens of international solidarity activistsraised Palestinian flags and pictures of the prisoners of the popular resistance. They chanted slogans against the occupation and the settlements and condemned the repressive inhumane policies of detention in Israeli jails. Other slogans denounced the continued policies of expulsion of the Palestinians from Jerusalem, including the continued home demolitions, and called for an immediate end to the siege on Gaza.
The Popular Committee against the Wall and the Settlements calls for a massive mobilization of all the Palestinian people and international supporters to be in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners. It calls for an âUprising of the Prisonersâ in order to put an end to the repression of Palestinian human rights defenders and the popular resistance, and to stop the abuse and humiliation that are perpetrated against the Palestinians in the Israeli jails.