Friday 17, July 2009
Two MPTers returned to the village of Bil’in to once again join Palestinian villagers and other internationals engaging in night duty. MPT was asked to come back to Bil’in because the night before there had been an army incursion and a young 21 year-old man, named Muhammed Abde al Fatah Burnat was arrested. The Bil’in popular committee asks that there be a significant number of Internationals present during these night watches because internationals have been able to successfully de-arrest Palestinians when they are able to make it to the scene in time. MPTers watched as army jeeps made their way up and down the military road which leads into the village, however no army units entered the Bil’in that night.
While watching for soldiers and army jeeps that may be entering the village to carry out arrests, team members were able to speak with a local man named Ashraf, who was shot in the leg by an Israeli soldier on July 7th of this year. Ashraf’s story has become well-known because he had been taking food and medical supplies to the people of the neighboring village of Ni’lin when he was shot. Ni’lin, like Bil’in engages in weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the Wall and the Israeli occupation. In early July, as a response to these nonviolent protests, the Israeli army put the village under curfew so residents were not able to leave their homes. Upon arrival in Ni’lin, soldiers recognized Ashraf from the weekly demonstrations and detained him for three hours. During that time he was denied food and water and made to sit out in the hot sun. While he was handcuffed and blind folded, one of the soldiers shot a rubber-coated steel bullet into Ashraf’s foot, causing him to collapse. Luckily, there was no permanent damage to Ashraf's foot.
This incident was caught on video by a 14 year-old girl from her home in Ni’lin. To see this video please go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2RiEXrJ69o
This was not this family’s first violent encounter with the Israeli occupation. Ashraf’s brother, Bassem, was killed by a tear gas canister during a nonviolent protest in Bil’in earlier this year.