Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Palestine-Israel, Rough translation of report on the murder in Ni'ilin in the Sunday 26-12-08 shooting, written for Btselem by an AAtW member

"I wrote down the details of what happened for Btselem and thought that people on the list may be interested too... Hebrew only, sorry."
On Sunday, the 28/12/08 there was in Ni'ilin a demonstration in protest of the massacre in Gaza. Very fast the demonstration escalated into confrontations in few locations between the army & gendarmes that shoot bullets covered with rubber & tear gas and villagers that threw stones on the state force.

The biggest focus of confrontation was in the main entrance to the village, near the intersection between road 446 and road 4460, and there were concentrated lot of gendarmes. A second focus was a bit to the south-west of the 4460 in an olive plantation adjacent to the village houses. The most marginal building - a poultry, is already within the olive plantation and around it were confrontations. The soldiers were on one side of the poultry and the demonstrators - about 15-30 young villagers on the other side.

I stood near the second focus of confrontation, about 30-40 meters from the stone throwers.

For a long while the state force used tear gas and rubber coated bullets. [which are much less lethal - I.S] At a certain moment, the noise of shooting changed into that of non automatic live ammunition (based on my experience). I approached to the stone throwing people to warn them that the state force started to use live ammunition.

At that moment, the demonstrators stood behind a high pile of stones adjacent to the poultry and about 4-5 soldiers who were about 20 meter from them, were walking freely to and fro behind a low field wall ("terasa").

It was clear from their behavior they did not perceive any danger to their life*. The shooting of live ammunition (not upward in the air) continued for few minutes.

Because of the danger, after warning few of the youth there of the danger I started to retreat backwards looking all the time towards the confrontation. After about 5 meters of retreat one of the demonstrators was hit in his leg. I run to him and was the second to reach him. We carried him about 15 meters backwards, towards a team of para-medics who were there. About 30 seconds or less passed and we heard shouts about another casualty. I run back but half way I saw four people carrying a limp body - a person that was shut at his back and seemed dead. Later I learned it was Arafat Khauagha.

I looked at the location where the people were shot and I have seen another one shot at and collapsing. The people around him carried him and cried that he was shot at his head. Later I learned that his name is Muhamad Khawaga.

The fire continued. The head of the injured was covered with blood that was flowing in a big stream. The people who were carrying him were covered with his blood.

I run towards Arafat Khawaga and replaced one of these who carried him. I held his left shoulder and his head so it will not be shaken. My hand that held his shoulder and back was covered with his blood. Then, one of the youth replaced me. There was no ambulance at that place at the moment and he was evacuated in a car of one of the villagers. The ambulance arrived a minute later and evacuated the other three injured ones to the Ramallah hospital.

I will stress again that the use of live ammunition was not of short duration and was not because of any distress of the soldiers that could have been interpreted as threatening their live[**].
The duration of that shooting was along few minutes in which the soldiers were behind a cover with out retreating. In addition, a short distance from them there was a much bigger force - tens of border guard gendarmes, that had not come "to save them" - proving that no danger was felt there.

In addition, Araphat Khawaga was shot at his back, meaning his back was towards the soldiers while he was shot at - hardly any threat to them at all.

** The spokesperson of the Israeli army declare each time the state forces murder a Palestinian that
"they were just protecting themselves as there was a threat on their lives..."

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