Across the West Bank, Friday was a day of protest against Israel’s blood diamonds, which are harvested while infringing on human rights in African countries and then polished in apartheid Israel and then exported. The diamond trade accounts for 30% of Israel’s total manufacturing exports:
Five paramedics (one of them [image to the left] a minor, the age of 15) and one member of the press- all marked with vests according to their duty, all residents of the village of Ni’lin- were arrested during the weekly demonstration. I later chanced upon the 6 at the Beit-El (settlement) police station. We managed to talk to them a bit and take some pictures before the guarding officer started yelling for the police to come and take us away. Anarchists Against the Wall Reported the following:
One of the soldiers punched the cameraman and a medic, and another threw a large rock at the a radio receiver belonging to the medics. The arrestees were taken to the Shaar Binyamin police station. Two of them were accused of assaulting the police, and four were released.
The latest report is that the remaining journalist and paramedic were both released, with no conditions.
The demonstration in Bil’in was conducted in solidarity with the Israeli settlement boycott movement. Two children, including a mentally disabled boy, were injured and three Israelis, including myself, were arrested after the soldiers, yet again, invaded the village in order to make arrests. Cuffed and blindfolded, we were taken to the Benjamin police station at the Beit El/Adam settlement, which can be easily found on the map.
The army, like a well oiled machine, attacked with chemical warfare, invaded the village to abduct an Al-Arabiya reporter, using a smoke screen canister that spits fire as well.
Fires sparked due to the combination of Middle Eastern heat and ammunition. About 20 olive trees were lost, as it took the fire truck about an hour to arrive and the army had to be begged to stop gassing us, so we could approach the burning areas. Video clips after the fold.
All across the protesting villages of the West Bank, the political intimidation is escalating with arrests of activists. There will be no footage from Bil’in, this week, as friend, fellow activist, B’tselem camera man and Bil’in resident, Haitham Al-Khatib was arested, yet again, while doing his job. (update 20.5.10: this week’s footage has been recovered and can be found here) Along with two fellow Bil’in residents, Al-Khatib was taken to Ofer prison, without even so much as an interrogation. The two Israeli activists and international activist were released at 20 past midnight, that night.
In Ni’lin, a bit of symbolic flag burning was quickly dispersed with chemical weapons.
Four people arrested in Bil’in. As you can tell by the video’s last few minutes, as friend and journalist, Tommy Donnellan, is being carried off, the army knows that he is of the press. What do you call it when the authorities arrest the press, again?
This Friday’s demos were themed in respect to the Deir Yassin massacre. In Bil’in, the village committee and B’tselem photographer (who’s videos you often see here) and dear friend, Haitham Al-Khatib, was abducted near the end of the demonstration. Al-Khatib was returned home, battered and bruised, after over 24 hours in which he was unreachable.
In Nebi Salah The soldiers were eager and waiting, within the village when the march had reached its outskirts. Under the cover of the clashes between the army and the village youth, some villagers managed to reach their natural spring, only to find settlers swimming in it. Soldiers who eventually got to the group politely ordered the settlers to leave, while attacking the demonstrators with tear-gas in order to push them back to the village. The two groups had regrouped back in the village, where Border Police officers shot at demonstrators from behind the stone terraces that crosshatch the fields between the village and the settlement. It took the army until seven in the evening to retreat:
The injured 14 year old boy, Ehab Barghouthi, has awaken from his coma, caused by a rubber coated bullet to his head, fired by an Israeli army Soldier.