Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Vigil for peace campaigner victim of state violence

FRIENDS of a young Israeli peace and human rights campaigner who visited Britain last year are expected to hold a vigil opposite the Israeli embassy in London this evening, after hearing how he was injured in the eye by a rubber-coated bullet fired by Israeli Border Police.

The police opened fire on demonstrators protesting Israel's "security" barrier. Another man had to be operated on to remove a rubber bullet that had lodged near his kidney.

Matan Cohen, a 17-year old army refusenik and member of Anarchists Against the Wall, had been taking part in a demonstration at Beit Sira, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. He and an American called Sara were retreating and had both been hit in the legs by the rubber bullets, when Matan was hit again in the face.

Maria, an International Solidarity Movement mmber from Sweden who was standing next to them when it happened said "We were at least 200 meters away from any stone throwers. It was very obvious that we were Israeli and Internationals that we were completely peaceful and that we had separated from the demonstration."

Matam was taken to Tel Hashomer hospital.Doctors there said his eye was in danger but it was too soon to assess the damage.

About 300 people had gathered at Beit Sira to protest against olive trees being uprooted to make way for Israel's annexation barrier. The planned route of the barrier at Beit Sira would annex the Maccabim settlement and part of Beir Sira's land to Israel.
The demonstrators walked rowards the site but were confronted by a line of Israeli soldiers. A stand off ensued with some pushing and shoving, but things got rougher when the Border Police arrived. The border policemen began to weigh into the demonstrators with batons, and when the crowd dispersed pursued them with rubber bullets and tear gas, chasing out people who had tried to take cover between the olive trees.

Fourteen people were injured by rubber bullets during the demonstration, including thirty-year-old Hussni Rayan who had a metal-coated rubber bullet lodged near his kidney and was being operated on today at Sheik Zaid hospital in Ramallah.

Unlike the army, which is conscript, the Border Police are a professional force.

Arthur from Ilford adds:-

On Wednesday March 1, friends and supporters of Matan will be demonstratingoutside the Israeli embassy on Kensington High St between 5-7pm to register disgust at the actions of the IDF. The nearest tube is Kensington High St(district line). Please come and show your solidarity.

Further information below from Israeli news site (excerpts)

"My feeling is that the blood of Left-wing activists and the Palestinians is cheap," -Matan Cohen

from YNet:-

Cohen was shot by Border Police and injured in his eye, and has been hospitalized in the Tel Hashomer Medical Center since Friday.

If bleeding does not stop within 24 hours, Cohen will undergo surgery. In either case, doctors believe his eye has sustained damage. In the best case, his visual range will be affected, and in the worst case, he would lose complete vision in the eye. "Up until now I can't see out of the eye, and they'll be able to see if there's damage only in a few days. I'm worried about damage in my eye and I really hope the bleeding stops," said Cohen.

Members of the organization have begun documenting their demonstrations due to past experiences with violence. "We have recordings of an army commander who said that he doesn't want the situation to turn violent, and who tried to calm things down, saying not to shoot. But a Border Police is also heard saying 'shoot everyone one of them with a rubber bullet.'

When I was shot I was standing with three people, within around a 20 meter range from a Border Police force. We said: 'Don't shoot, we are not threatening you and we are not endangering you,' but they opened fire, and also directed it to the head, violating all of their rules of engagement. I felt the impact in the eye, and with the remainder of my strength, I managed to run from them. My entire hand and head were filled with blood," said Cohen.

Cohen said there was no comparison between the violence of soldiers against Right-wing demonstrators in Amona and against Left-wing demonstrators: "In our demonstrations, they shoot live bullets in order to kill. In Right-wing demonstrations, no gas or shock grenades have ever been thrown. This is violence which is many times larger. The feeling is our blood is cheap. But violence which takes place when the life of a police officer is not under threat should be condemned, it doesn't matter from which side it occurs."

Three soldiers and Border Police officers were injured by rocks thrown at them. One police officer was taken to hospital.,7340,L-3220888,00.html

There is a commission of inquiry into the clash with right-wing settlers at Amona, after which troops withdrew. How about into the regular violence against wall protestors?

Knesset Member calls for inquiry

MK Barakeh calls for investigation of IDF violence against Israeli left-wing activists (from Y-Net)

Hadash (Communist Party-led Democratic Front) leader MK Mohammad Barakeh on Sunday paid a visit to Matan Cohen, the young Israeli activists shot by the IDF during protests in the territories on Friday, at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.

Barakeh called for an investigation of the events that led to Cohen’s eye injury from IDF fire. “Hadash will call for a special Knesset session to discuss the brutality of the occupation army against Israeli peace forces in the occupied territories,” Barakeh said. (Ali Waked)

Arrests at Tel Aviv demonstration

POLICE arrested four people after 150 demonstrators blocked a Tel Aviv road in a protest over the Border Police violence and injury to Matan Cohen on Saturday, February 25


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