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Friday Post:

June 5, 2009

I got back last night from my roadtrip around northern Israel (Haifa, Akko, Tiberius, and Nazareth) and went to Bil’in today.  Yesterday I came back and my roommates were telling me that there was a demonstration that day with over 1,000 people…something about a convention that happened there that turned into a mini-demonstration.  But someone was injured and we thought he got hit by a rubber bullet, and it was in the head.  He’s Ok, he just got released from the hospital and today we found out that it wasn’t the Israelis, haha, it was friendly fire…someone hit him with a stone accidently.  It happens sometimes, thats why Im never near the boys with the slingshots–that and they are the main targets for Israeli fire.

Anyways, today we got to Bil’in right after they started the march to the wall, so we were catching up with the group the whole time and when they got to the fence we were still in the back, thank god, because the Israelis shot the cannon that shoots out over 30 canisters at a time…so right as we caught up everyone was running back towards us to get away from the canisters and the gas.  There were probably 150 people at the beginning…we lost a lot of the internationals after that, ha, they went straight back to the village. There were maybe 10 or less boys throwing stones.

So anyways I had a bad feeling this morning and was thinking something bad was going to happen so I stayed behind a wall all the time basically.  When they start with the cannon, its only going to escalate after that so I assumed they were going to start shooting bullets. 

They shot a LOT of teargas for about a half an hour then they started shooting sound bombs and rubber bullets.  When we walk up the road to the fence, it wraps around on our right side all the way along the road we come up on, so when there are kids throwing stone on the side part of the fence, we have the Israelis shooting at us from two directions…

So when they’re shooting that often you can’t even leave and walk back to the village because you could still get shot (thats where I got shot in the leg with the teargas grenade) by the soldiers at the side.  And the soldiers are behind the olive trees so you cant really see where they’re aiming or anything.

Most of the people left when they shot the first ‘killer bullet’ -a real gun…And we were still in the middle behind a wall because one of our friends from the village got teargassed really bad and was in the ambulance.  So we were waiting for him to get better to go back to the village.  There were rubber bullets and live bullets coming from two directions, and we were huddled behind this wall to dodge them…The ambulance was parked right in front of us.  Then the soldiers started shooting teargas at us (although they couldnt see us for the most part because we were behind the wall) or the ambulance. 

Anyways, Jaber came out of the ambulance finally…and it was just us and the boys throwing stones, so it was the most dangerous part of the demo because theres no press to catch what happens.  And they were STILL shooting all different kinds of bullets and teargas.  So we decided to make a run for it, held up olive tree branches haha…and got safely back to the village.

2 people were shot today in Bil’in: one with a rubber bullet in the leg (the same one who got shot in the butt with one before, haha) but he will be fine.  The second might have been teargas because he got hit in the face and basically just had a bad bloody nose and will be fine.

When we went to the cultural center with Jaber one of the guys there told us that someone was killed in Ni’lin (another village near Bil’in that has weekly demonstrations against the wall) today.  They heard that the soldiers shot him FIVE times with live ammunition.  He was 36 years old, married and had has children.  He is the fifth person killed in Nil’in…the time before this one 10 year old boy was shot in the head with live ammunition and killed instantly, then at the funeral the next day a 17 year old boy was shot with two rubber coated steel bullets in the head. 

I think because Bil’in was so crazy today that they just got orders to be extra aggressive in general, and ordered to kill someone today.  If he was really shot five times it shows it wasnt a mistake.  Anyways…theres no excuse for killing people at these demonstrations.  We don’t pose a threat to their safety.  Even though there are some boys throwing stones, most of us aren’t doing anything but standing there.  And what threat does a rock pose to a soldier with full war gear on like helmets, bullet proof vests, padded uniforms and full length shields??? Not to mention the fence between us.  Its ridiculous that this is allowed to happen.

So there will be a funeral tomorrow in Ni’in and hopefully they wont do a protest afterwards because it will be crazy if they do. 

Other than that, I a few days ago there was more violence between Hamas and Fateh in Qalqilia.  3 more dead from each side.  There’s security forces all over Ramallah because they think they might start killing each other here too.  Its a really bad situation (not in terms of the scale of the violence or safety or anything…) but because I think Obama really wants to help the Palestinians and will pressure Israel to honor its agreements, but if the Palestinians can’t get it together first they won’t have a chance at a 2 state solution.  Until Hamas either becomes less extremist or they need to be out of power.  Because until they have a stable government no one will help them.

Anyways…its a stressful time and the settlers have been going crazy lately as well because they know its all over for them.  Obama and Hilary are being very clear about the fact that outposts have to be dismantled and settlement growth – even natural growth- has to stop completely.  So the settlers are even more insane then usual…sending wild boars down into the Palestinian fields and villages to destroy things, shooting at Palestinians from the tops of the hills where the settlements are, and assaulting random Palestinians they come across.

That’s about it…the next few weeks should be interesting.

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