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Palestinians shot at weekly anti-wall protest

Nov. 20, 2009 9:19 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 22, 2009 1:06 A.M.)
Ramallah – Ma'an – Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians in the West Bank village of Nil'in on Friday, witnesses said.

One was hospitalized after being shot in the knee, but later released, according to a spokesman from the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Nil'in.

A second was more seriously injured after soldiers shot him between the legs. He was undergoing surgery in Ramallah due to the seriousness of the injury, but was stable on Friday, the spokesman added.

Around 200 people participated in the protest on Friday, including a delegation of Scandinavian students.

The Popular Committee said Israeli forces expanded the barrier with concrete blocks, and that Israeli forces "warned" protesters that if they opted not to leave, they would begin shooting live ammunition.

"The re-introduction of snipers confirms the rumors," the statement added, referring to information the Popular Committee received last week that Israeli forces were planning to crack down on the demonstrations.

Ibrahim Ameera, a member of the committee, responded that "this will not stop our struggle. We need to fight Israel's unjust policy in a peaceful way, and this is what we are doing.

"We will never give up on our basic human rights, no matter how many concrete blocks the Israelis will put on our land, no matter how many sharpshooters they will use, we will not give up. We know we are fighting for a just cause."

One of the Palestinians who was shot on Friday is the brother of Mohammad Attallah, a 19-year-old Palestinians who was ordered to turn himself in to Israeli forces in October over his involvement in the demonstrations.

Activists released a video of the teenager in what they termed was his "message to the world."

In Al-Mas'ara, a village near Bethlehem, residents urged soldiers who lined up and spread barbed wire near the barrier there "to rethink their aggression, lay down their weapons, and join the international support for the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and human rights," according to a separate statement received by Ma'an.

Teenagers crossed over the small barrier set up in front of the wall while a woman from the village managed to again cross the barrier along with her two grandchildren. Soldiers reportedly did not stop the woman from reaching her farmland.

Israeli forces invaded the village of Bil'in on Thursday morning and detained a local youth involved in the weekly demonstrations, a statement from its local Popular Committee said.

"In an escalation of the recent arrest campaign conducted by the Israeli military in attempt to crush the popular struggle against the wall in the village, an undercover army unit invaded Bil'in this morning and arrested a local youth, 19 year old Mohammad Yassin," the group said.

The committee described the incident in a statement, saying a "civilian Isuzu pickup with undercover soldiers dressed as Palestinians" entered the village "searching for residents suspected of organizing and participating in the village's weekly demonstrations."

Yassin was reportedly detained from the car garage where he works as a mechanic. "The arrest involved the beating of Yassin himself, as well as of his brother and his mother, who assumed that the disguised soldiers were just random by-passers attacking their kin," the Popular Committee said.

A total of 28 Bil'in residents have been detained for their involvement in the demonstrations since 23 June 2009, the group added.

Several Israeli officials and members of the "Likud Youth" joined in the protests as well, on the other side of the barrier, activists said. Among them were Ofir Akunis and Tzion Fanian, according to settler Web sites.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated Friday that there would be no peace talks with Israel as long as the settlement construction continued.

"Those who have to resist are the people, and there are different types of resistance, like in Bil'in and Ni'lin, where people are injured every day," he said in an interview with the BBC.

***A prior version of this article included reports that activist Sa'd Attallah Amira was taken to a hospital with gunshot injuries, and that Israeli soldiers fired a foul-smelling liquid on protesters. Accounts by witnesses cast doubt on those claims, neither of which Ma'an could independently confirm.
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