Sunday, August 13, 2006

Israel-Palestin, Media, Activist shot in head with rubber bullet at Bil'in By Haaretz Correspondent and AP, By Meron Rapoport* 13 Aug 2006

A Border Police soldier shot a rubber-tipped bullet at an Israeli demonstrator Friday at a protest in Bil'in against the separation fence. In violation of military regulations, the gun was fired at close range, from between ten and 20 meters, wounding attorney Lymor Goldstein in the head. The Israel Defense Forces prevented Goldstein's evacuation for more than an hour. He later underwent surgery to remove the bullet from his brain.

The shooting occurred during the weekly Friday afternoon anti-fence protest at Bil'in. On Friday the IDF Spokesman's Office said that Border Police forces threw stun grenades and fired rubber bullets after protesters threw rocks at them, but video footage of the incident clearly shows the Border Police commander instructing his soldiers to shoot rubber bullets with no warning and before any rocks were thrown at his forces.

The footage shows soldiers aiming their weapons at shoulder height and firing at the protesters. At one point a soldier can be seen pointing his gun at two protesters searching for cover and then firing at the head of one of them. IDF regulations permit the firing of rubber-tipped bullets only at a distance of at least 40 meters, and only at the legs of the target. What are called "rubber bullets" are actually plastic-coated lead bullets, and they can be deadly when fired at certain areas of the body.

"After they started shooting we tried to find cover," related the demonstrator who was next to Goldstein when he was hit. "I was standing with my back to them and then I saw Lymor fall. I'm trained as a medic so I tried to stop the bleeding from his head. I shouted at the soldiers that someone had a head wound but they kept going and paid no attention. One of them cursed us."

The video shows the soldiers walking past Goldstein without stopping. When demonstrators asked the commander to evacuate Goldstein, he responded, "I don't have an ambulance." One soldier said the injury was "unimportant." It took 15 minutes for a medic to arrive.

The demonstrator, who asked not to be identified, said that even after the medic arrived Goldstein's care was delayed and it took a long time before he was evacuated by an army truck. "Another medic, who went with him, told me she had to hold Lymor's head with her hands because of the rough ride. The IDF medic hadn't stabilized his head. The driver went really fast even though she begged him to slow down."

Goldstein was eventually evacuated to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. According to hospital officials he arrived at 3:30 P.M., almost two hours after he was shot. He was operated on Friday night. Yesterday Goldstein was awake and alert, but he may have sustained permanent damage to his vision or other faculties.

Jonathan Pollak of Anarchists Against the Wall says he is convinced that the decision to use rubber bullets Friday was aimed at taking advantage of the situation in Lebanon to silence the West Bank protests using force.
* see video clip: * The TV 10 channel reported on the shooting including a simmilar video clip showing it at the main Saturday news program.

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