On Friday, March 13th, the one year anniversary of the critical injury of international activist Tristan Anderson, approximately 100 Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals gathered for the weekly demonstration in Ni’lin to claim justice for Tristan. Anderson, a 38 year old U.S. citizen who was volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement, was hit in the forehead by a high-flying tear gas projectile during a demonstration in Ni’lin last year. The projectile was fired against IOF regulations, as soldiers shot the canisters directly at demonstrators rather than in an arcing fashion. According to the manufacturer of the tear gas canisters, the projectile was designed to penetrate walls and to be used in confined spaces; neither was necessary at the open-air demonstration demonstration in 2009. Tristan sustained serious brain damage, and remains hospitalized in Tel Aviv, his condition too serious for him to be moved home to the US.
In Ni’lin, midday prayers took place in the shade of olive trees, creating a picturesque setting. Afterwards, demonstrators marched firmly through the fields towards the metal gate in the concrete Apartheid Wall, while chanting and holding banners supporting Tristan. Three farmers brought their donkeys along in hopes of reach their farming land beyond the Apartheid Wall.
Ni’lin has lost about a third of its land to illegal Israeli settlements and the Wall. Only a limited amount of villagers have permission to access their lands behind the Wall, most of them elderly persons who do not have the physical capacity to farm. On Friday, all farmers were denied access to their land. While the crowd was overtaken by a viciously strong tear gas attack, soldiers passed through the gate. One of the farmers was brutally separated from his young son and arrested. Simultaneously, an Israeli activist was arrested while taking pictures.
After approximately 15 minutes the army invaded the village to surround the demonstrating crowd, plaguing the crowd with tear gas and sound grenades. The demonstrators approached the Wall again, holding up banners and chanting, which was answered by the army with more ammunition aimed directly at them. Clashes between the IOF and demonstrators continued for two hours until the army withdrew from the village.
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