24-year-old Rafat Sa’id al ‘Aish was injured on the December 17, 2010 during a demonstration by a metal tear gas round during the weekly demonstration in al Nabi Saleh. Arafat lives in Kufr Dik, and when the road is blocked by soldiers on Fridays he is forced to walk the 4 kilometers on foot through the mountains.

Rafat is a new husband and the son of the martyr Tal’at al ‘Aish. With the loss of his father he grew up with his mother’s uncle, who spent 14 and a half years in Occupation prisons. Rafat himself was arrested and held for 15 months in both the Ofer and Naqab prisons. He explained how, despite all of this, he chooses to join in the weekly demonstrations.

“I saw them last week, with my own eyes, fire live bullets at the people directly, aiming to injure. So I decided to go out this week (to the demonstration). I woke up early and left before Occupation soldiers closed the road between al Nabi Saleh and Kufr ‘Ayn.

He then explained how he was injured:

“The demonstration set off from Martyrs’ Square and headed toward the entrance of the village. Occupation forces were waiting for the demonstrators there, and there was a larger number gathered, more than ever before. Seeing this mass of soldiers, the demonstration changed the way it was moving and headed a shorter way to for the sake of avoiding the soldiers. When Occupation forces noticed this, they moved quickly toward the demonstrators and clashed with them. They began firing sound and gas bombs, and after that the demonstrators dispersed and confrontations moved to all parts of the village.

“I was with a group of demonstrators close to Martyrs’ Square where three soldiers were raining tear gas on us. The soldiers were hitting us with airborne gas, and because of the wind the gas that they fired toward us returned toward them, and they were choked with their own tear gas. They asked for reinforcements, and a force of seven soldiers came and began firing aluminum gas bombs (these high velocity canisters are much more dangerous than the tear gas grenades that are thrown or lobbed by rifles) and rubber bullets. We had seen them aim the rubber and metal coated rubber bullets toward us with scopes. The confrontations renewed in that moment, and lots of the gas bombs that they fired at as landed unexploded […] Some of the demonstrators were activating them and throwing them back at the Occupation forces, chocking them and forcing them to flee from their position.

“After that we got up and went toward the place where the soldiers were concentrated thinking that they had fled. Except that they were now concentrated behind a wall close to us, about 12 meters. There they aimed at us and the last I heard was one of the youth say “go back, go back”.

“After that I got up; I was laying on the ground in a house with lots of people and there was lots of shouting, and faces came and looked at me and went. I asked. ‘what’s the matter?’ and they told me ‘nothing, don’t move.’ I raised my hand by chance and found it was covered with blood and I realized I was wounded. Then I heard people around me asking for the medics, and I asked them not to take me to the hospital and not to call the medics. I remember that I asked someone, ‘don’t take me to the hospital and don’t move me in an ambulance promise me’ and then I lost consciousness.

“I was afraid that they would arrest me, especially because I am a released prisoner. The Occupation usually arrests youth from ambulances, so I asked them not move me that way.

“I was losing consciousness and waking up, but what I expected happened, and Occupation forces stopped us at the military checkpoint that they had set up at the entrance of al Nabi Saleh. The soldiers tried to enter the ambulance, and I remember that I heard knocking and banging on the doors. Except that there were medics and international solidarity activists that were not letting them arrest me.

“At the second checkpoint, which was not farther than 100 meters from the first, Occupation forces stopped the ambulance again. One soldier raised his weapon at the driver of the ambulance and forced him to get out. Another soldier had opened the ambulance and tried to arrest me, except that international activists fought with him, and the medics demanded his military ID in order to lodge a complaint against him. After that the soldier retreated and another came and took a picture of me and my injury and allowed the ambulance to pass.

“After that we arrived at the hospital. The doctors examined the condition of my injury. A metal tear gas canister had caused the wound at the lower part of my head. The bruises on my face and right eye were caused by my hitting (the ground) directly with my face when I was hit in the back of the head by the bomb.

“The pain is in all parts of my body, and it affects my ability to walk. Sometimes when I walk I feel very tried and am forced to stop because if I continue I would pass out. Sometimes when I turn over from left to right while sleeping I lose consciousness. I also feel a strong pain in my back."

When asked if he knew who shot him, Rafat answered,

“Yes. He is a soldier in the Border Guards. Throughout the demonstration he was moving between the areas observing, and he didn’t carry anything except a pistol. When they youth threw the gas bombs at the seven soldiers he was with them, and we saw him get upset and grab a weapon angrily from another soldier next to him and begin to open fire on us.”

He then explained what he expects to happen.

“It has become the fashion for the Occupation forces to arrest the injured from their homes days after they are wounded. They have arrested Jamal al Rimawai from his home after his injury in the al Nabi Saleh demonstration. They also arrested another youth from Qarawa after he was injured as well.”




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