RAMALLAH - Demonstrations in An Nabi Saleh turned violent today as US citizen Ellen Stark, 20, was shot with a rubber bullet from less than 12 feet away. The rubber bullet became lodged in Stark's arm, breaking it and requiring surgical care. Due to conditions at the medical center in Ramallah, the use of a flashlight from a mobile phone was required for lighting while the rubber bullet was removed from Stark's arm.
Stark was gathered with other activists and two medics, away from the demonstration grounds. An Israeli military jeep stopped in front of the group, shooting rubber bullets and tear gas canisters from dangerously close range. Also injured was Alkhatib Mahmud Tamimi, 87, hit with a rubber bullet in the arm and Nariman Tamimi, hit with a gas canister. Later in the demonstration, 17-year-old Raaft Ahmad was shot above the eye with a rubber bullet and is currently hospitalized. Two weeks ago , the skull of Ehab Fadel Beir Ghouthi, 14, was fractured as a rubber bullet shot by the Israeli military lodged in his brain.
Eyewitness Robin Brown stated, "The soldiers started shooting from just three meters away. We did nothing to provoke the attack." Brown aided Stark in receiving medical attention. Three others in Stark's group were detained. "We weren't even demonstrating yet. We were standing with medics who were also shot with tear gas," Stark stated from the hospital in Ramallah.
Every Friday since January, unarmed protesters have attempted to reach a spring on An Nabi Saleh land. Recognized as Palestinian land by the District Coordinating Office, each week before reaching the spring, demonstrators have been met with a shower of rubber bullets and gas canisters fired on them by Israeli military forces. Nearly half of An Nabi Saleh's orchard and farmland have been confiscated by the Halamish Settlement since it was created in 1977. An Nabi Saleh loses more land each year to Halamish for settlement development.
This incident comes as Israel has intesified efforts to suppress the Palestinian non-violence movement and the demonstrations held against settler land encroachment and the barrier wall. Earlier this week, notices were posted by Israeli military officers in the middle of the night in the villages of Bil'in and Nil'in declaring demonstration areas as closed military zones. Bil'in and Nil'in have gained international attention for their weekly Friday demonstrations.