A photographer and two women, one reportedly a French national, were injured by rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at this Friday’s anti-occupation demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.
UPDATE: A video of the incident is now embedded, below
Three civilians were injured in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh today and required hospitalization, according to reports from several eyewitness. A French national, whose name is reportedly Amissy (unconfirmed), was hit in the neck with a projectile – either a tear gas canister or a rubber-coated steel bullet. The Israeli army reports that a border police officer was injured in the head by a rock.
Although photos show the woman bleeding profusely and obviously in pain, IDF spokesman Major Peter Lerner tweeted that she had been ‘lightly injured’ by a rock thrown by a ‘non-violent’ Palestinian.
Major Lerner’s tweet provoked jeers from eyewitnesses, with several tweeting that they had seen the incident. In a video of the shooting (below), unarmed demonstrators are standing and chanting slogans when IDF soldiers shoot tear gas canisters directly at their heads. The French woman, who is on the right side of the frame, is hit and falls to the ground at around 12 seconds. Note that the soldiers continue to shoot, not stopping to help the injured woman.
After this video was uploaded to the internet and widely shared online, Major Peter Lerner changed his story and tweeted that the IDF would investigate the incident of a tear gas canister that he now claims ‘ricocheted off the ground’ and injured the woman.
Ofer Ron, an Israeli, tweeted a sarcastic response:
Eyewitnesses report that soldiers beat Nariman Tamimi, a Nabi Saleh woman who is a trained medic, as she tried to help the injured French woman. Ms. Tamimi is the wife of imprisoned activist Bassam Tamimi, whose jail sentence was handed down based on coerced confessions taken from minors. Bassam Tamimi’s case has attracted the attention of French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé.
Ms. Tamimi’s cousin Mustafa Tamimi, 28, was killed at a Friday demonstration in early December 2011, when an Israeli border police officer shot a tear gas canister at his head from very short range.
Soldiers also reportedly shot directly at a photojournalist who was covering the demonstration, prompting several people present to comment that the Israeli army was targeting journalists. This would not be the first time journalists were targeted by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. Photojournalist Mati Milstein wrote this report for +972 Magazine after he and several colleagues were targeted by Israeli soldiers shooting tear gas canisters at close range.
Proper use of tear gas canisters, according to both IDF training manuals and the tear gas manufacturers, is to shoot it from a safe distance in arcs over the heads of demonstrators, in order to avoid injury.
Nabi Saleh is a small village of approximately 500 people, located in the Ramallah District. It has been the scene of weekly demonstrations since December 2009, shortly after Jewish residents of the neighbouring settlement of Halamish forcibly confiscated a water spring that is on Nabi Saleh-owned land.