Friday, July 3, 2009
Bi'lin demo July 3rd, 2009
So today's Bi'lin demo was a little crazier than normal. Joe and I both attended after spending all night out on patrol for Israeli soldiers "Jaish." We marched down to the wall like normal and got the normal amount of tear gas. Then some ISMers and some members of the popular committee were able to squeeze in the front gate area and make their way to the main seperation fence. The soldiers of course came out in force in riot gear and with buckets of grenades to attack them.
The demonstrators then told the Israelis that they were occupiers and that they were attacking unarmed protesters. One ISMer even went so far as to sit down in front of the soldiers gate as a sign of defiance to the tear gas and other weapons being employed against us. They responded with brute force.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Hp18vRmnQ - a video I took of what they did to us in between the 2 barriers)
an even better video taken by Haitham http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS229YmbKwU
When the Red Crescent van went closer to deal with people who had been hurt, the soldiers pelted it with tear gas rounds till it was forced to move back. Three people were lightly injured including 2 internationals and a Palestinian man. Dozens were treated for teargas inhalation.
As for the intensity, it was a first for me for a lot of things today:
It was the first time I experienced such a large amount of tear gas that I lost track up direction (up and down) and fell on my chest choking. It was the first time I had schrapnel from a percussion grenade cut through my shirt and cut my skin. Lastly, it was also the first time I kicked a tear gas canister back at the soldiers. The soldiers had buckets of grenades so they just kept launching them in volleys at us in addition to the ones their comrades were firing from grenade launchers and the massive 15 + that were launched from the top of their jeeps.
At some point we pulled back and began forcing their main gate to the initial wall open. (I took this picture right before going in with another 5 people to help push) The soldiers responded by teargassing us. We still managed after much effort to force the gate and the barbed wire totally open and off the hill. This left the area open to the main wall as pictured below).