Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A stone and a bullet are not the same

At around 6pm tonight, Israeli Border Police shot an eleven year young boy named Ahmed dead. Ahmed was a boy full of all the details that boys are. And now he is dead.

The Ha'aretz says: "A 9-year-old Palestinian boy died on Tuesday evening during clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces." The International Solidarity Movement which has had volunteers in Ni'lin for over a month, says that an eye witness reported that a group of youths were attempting to remove coils of razor wire from the separation barrier. When, without warning, they were fired upon. Ahmed was shot in the forehead and was killed.

This separation barrier is being built illegally on their family's land. A barrier that would have highly restricted their movement. So they went to take it apart. They may have thrown rocks. They were shot at. One of them was killed.

The Ha'aretz says: "A number of violent protests have erupted in Na'alin against the West Bank separation fence, frequently developing into confrontations between stone-throwing youths and Israeli troops firing tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. " I was at one of these protests last week. People dressed in plain clothes with no weapons walked chanting towards the soldiers. The protests are usually symbolic- people get as close to the bulldozers as possible and chant against the wall; at most- they aim to stop one of the bulldozers from working by sitting around it, knowing that there are others that will take its place. Young boys do sometimes throw rocks. At the protest I was at, because it was a women's demonstration, the boys were strongly urged to stay away. Some did come, and at the very end of the protest, they did throw rocks. These are rocks. These are boys throwing rocks. At soldiers with tear gas machines that can fire up to thirty cannisters at a time, making us all cry, making it difficult to breath, making our skin sting. These soldiers have bullets coated in rubber. These soldiers have metal bullets. These soldiers wear army vests and helmets. These soldiers are breaking international law with a powerful government on their side.

At the Ni'lin demonstration I was at, we walked chanting up to the area where the separation wall is being built. When we got to the soldiers, they begin by pushing people. Then if people tried to push by them to get closer to bulldozer, that's when the soldiers fired tear gas in metal containers at us. There were only a few rubber bullets that day. But they did beat one man with a baton until he was bloody. I didn't see this, because I had retreated to the back of the demonstration coughing from tear gas.

I keep thinking that this is too much like a role play game- one team got all the resources and keeps making it harder and harder for the other team to do anything at all. It's too difficult to believe. But then it's true, and it's people's lives.

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