Israeli Officer Throws Stones and Shoots Live Ammo at Palestinian Protesters in Nabi Saleh

By Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 12 June 2012

The video, filmed on June 1, during the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, shows an Israeli officer standing in a dominant position, above two protesters, throwing stones and firing live ammunition at them.

Video by Bilal Tamimi

00:08 The first shot of live ammunition is heard, but is not seen.

00:14 An Israeli Army officer is seen throwing stones at two Palestinian youth who are standing on the road beneath him. The two protesters are also throwing stones. Three other soldiers are standing next to the officer.

00:17 After throwing a stone at the two Palestinians, the officer shoots live ammunition at them in a volley of two or three bullets. The officer clearly does not fear for his life, and is standing at a tactically advantageous position. The fact that the officer is using live ammunition and not rubber-coated bullets is evident by the lack of an attachment used for firing rubber-coated bullets on the barrel of his gun. The sound of the shooting is that of live ammo, rather than blanks.

The officer then continues to throw stones, a stun grenade and to shoot live ammunition for more than a minute. He walks to and fro and it is evident that the shooting was not made out of fear of immediate danger to his life.

01:03 The officer runs towards the two protesters and throws the stone at them standing above the two from a very sort distance. He retreats to pick up another stone as the two Palestinians throw stones back at him.

01:16 The officer advances back towards the two protesters, throws another stone and then shoots another bullet at them.

01:18 Immediately after the shot is fired, a cloud of dust can be seen rising from the road, a few inches left of one of the protesters. Since the attachment used for for firing rubber-coated bullets isn’t placed on the barrel of the officer’s gun, there could be no doubt left he is shooting live ammunition.

01:21 another shot is fired. A cloud of dust can be seen rising from the road where the bullet hits, between the two protesters. Seconds after, as the two are running away, another shot is fired and hits the road next to them.

Background Late in 2009, settlers began gradually taking over Ein al-Qaws (the Bow Spring), which rests on lands belonging to Bashir Tamimi, the head of the Nabi Saleh village council. The settlers, abetted by the army, erected a shed over the spring, renamed it Maayan Meir, after a late settler, and began driving away Palestinians who came to use the spring by force – at times throwing stones or even pointing guns at them, threatening to shoot.

While residents of Nabi Saleh have already endured decades of continuous land grab and expulsion to allow for the ever continuing expansion of the Halamish settlement, the takeover of the spring served as the last straw that lead to the beginning of the village’s grassroots protest campaign of weekly demonstrations in demand for the return of their lands.

Protest in the tiny village enjoys the regular support of Palestinians from surrounding areas, as well as that of Israeli and international activists. Demonstrations in Nabi Saleh are also unique in the level of women participation in them, and the role they hold in all their aspects, including organizing. Such participation, which often also includes the participation of children reflects the village’s commitment to a truly popular grassroots mobilization, encompassing all segments of the community.

The response of the Israeli military to the protests has been especially brutal and includes regularly laying complete siege on village every Friday, accompanied by the declaration of the entire village, including the built up area, as a closed military zone. Prior and during the demonstrations themselves, the army often completely occupies the village, in effect enforcing an undeclared curfew. Military nighttime raids and arrest operations are also a common tactic in the army’s strategy of intimidation, often targeting minors.

In order to prevent the villagers and their supporters from exercising their fundamental right to demonstrate and march to their lands, soldiers regularly use disproportional force against the unarmed protesters. The means utilized by the army to hinder demonstrations include, but are not limited to, the use of tear-gas projectiles, banned high-velocity tear-gas projectiles, rubber-coated bullets and, at times, even live ammunition. The use of banned 0.22″ munitions by snipers has also been recorded in Nabi Saleh.

The use of such practices have already brought about the death of Mustafa Tamimi and caused countless injuries, several of them serious, including those of children – the most serious of which is that of 14 year-old Ehab Barghouthi, who was shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet from short range on March 5th, 2010 and laid comatose in the hospital for three weeks. Due to the wide-spread nature of the disproportionate use of force, the phenomenon cannot be attributed to the behavior of individual soldiers, and should be viewed as the execution of policy.

Tear-gas, as well as a foul liquid called “The Skunk”, which is shot from a water cannon, is often used inside the built up area of the village, or even directly pointed into houses, in a way that allows no refuge for the uninvolved residents of the village, including children and the elderly. The interior of at least one house caught fire and was severely damaged after soldiers shot a tear-gas projectile through its windows.

Since December 2009, when protest in the village was sparked, hundreds of demonstration-related injuries caused by disproportionate military violence have been recorded in Nabi Saleh.

Between January 2010 and June 2012, the Israeli Army has carried 98 arrests of people detained for 24 hours or more on suspicions related to protest in the village of Nabi Saleh, including those of women and of children as young as 11 years old. Of the 98, 31 were minors. Dozens more were detained for shorter periods. Two of the village’s protest leaders – Bassem and Naji Tamimi – arrested on protest-organizing related charges, were recognized by the European Union as human rights defenders. Bassem Tamimi was also declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, recently denounced his conviction by an Israeli military court and Human Rights Watch warned that he did not receive a fair trial.