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Weekly Report:

June 1, 2009

Friday at Bil’in was a big demonstration for Bassem again, because after 40 days (an Islamic tradition I think…) there is another memorial for someone who died.  So on Tuesday we went to Bil’in and they had a nice celebration of his life at the school.  There were probably 300 or more people there…mostly from the village but also the internationals who go to the demos and knew Bassem. 

They had friends and family talk about him, a few politicians came to talk about Bassem and their political party of course, then it ended with a video made of footage of Bassem around the village and at the demos.  It was really well-done…but it makes me even more sad about what happened to him now that I know how awesome a person he was, always helping people and putting other people first.  He never once threw a stone at a demonstration, and was known for wearing a shirt that had the israeli flag and the palestinian
flag right next to each other. 

So, the demo on Friday was almost as big as the first one that I went to for the 4 year anniversary of the protests, Im really bad at guessing how many people are in a crowd but there might have been around 200 there on Friday.  Lots of internationals and press too which was good. 

We walked up to the fence and they didnt shoot anything at us there for like 20 minutes, it was really weird…and stressful waiting for them to start, ha.  But at the side demonstration where all the boys were throwing stones they shot a couple rounds of live ammunition near the beginning which was scary.  Then they started shooting tear gas at us at the front, yet another new kind of teargas that when you smelll it at first it just smells like a fog machine or something, then all of a sudden it kicks in. 

haha, they shot “al-thuletheen” once, the cannon that shoots 30+teargas canisters at the same time.  THis time they aimed right and got everyone from the front of the demo to us at the back. 

I was with one of the new roommates in the appt and I told her they were probably going to use the cannon and when they do, dont run! just take cover and try not to breathe.  Ha, anyways, when they shot it she disappeared off into the distance in the smoke along with my other friend, and I just made sure none of the canisters were going to hit me then stood there and held my breath. 

But I was right in the middle of the road so a bunch of people who were blindly running to try to get out of the cloud ran into me, ahaha…but the cloud was huge, and they couldnt find their way out anyways. 

After it went away there were like 15 people on the ground choking….I looked around for my friends and saw them off in the distance down the road.  Aparently my roommate took off running and Odai could hear her breathing really hard so she inhaled a lot of it but she was fine. 

 The guy who got it worst was this villager who was hit in the spine at oneof the demos with a rubber coated steel bullet or a live round, and was paralyzed.(the one that the article below says we use as a “human shield”, bah ridiculous!)  He still comes to every demonstration in his electric chair.  But when they shoot the cannon he cant get away at all, so when the smoke cleared and I looked around his chair was empty, he was in the ambulance just for tear gas though, so he was fine eventually.

It ended after an hour and a half because it was so hot and there was no wind to blow the teargas away.  I dont know if any soldiers got injured by stones this time (usually you hear a LOT of cheering when that happens) but I saw some one running by with water balloons filled with pink paint, that is bil’ins revenge on the soldiers–painting them pink, haha.

Another story from this week, a good friend of mine’s little brother (17 years old) was arrested from Amari refugee camp a month or so ago…still hasnt been charged with anything…according to my Palestinian friend, when you are go to court, they have this long list of things “you did”…then you say no I didnt do this, no I didnt do that….until you have a much smaller list. 

 They tried to charge him with a bunch of stuff he didnt do, and put him in jail for 12-15 years.  So they rejected that list, and will have to go again in a few months with a different list of stuff.  So anyways my friend was really sad and actually his father had to go to court the same day–for some small incident that happened over 10 years ago…that the Israelis just ‘remembered’ about.  So he was dealing with a lot that day.  But I think this means that eventually his younger brothers sentence will be hopefully less than a few years instead of 12–inshallah.

Other than that, Hamas and Fateh have started fighting in the West Bank now…a couple days ago 6 people were killed in a shoot out in Qalqilia (a Palestinian village that is COMPLETELY surrounded by the wall, with one gate to get in and out, controlled by the ISraelis) .  The shooting was between PA officers (PAlestinian authority) and Hamas guys.  3 of each side were killed along with an innocent bystander. 

So, everyone is afraid that this is going to spark a larger conflict between Hamas and Fateh in the WEst Bank which would be surprising, since most of that stuff happens in Gaza only.  Anyways….there has been an increased Israeli military presence in the West Bank since that incident. 

We will see….

Related articles:

About the clash between Hamas and Fateh in Qalqilia:  http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/05/200953152655618250.html

About Bil’in on Friday: http://maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=38177

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