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Iraq Burin: Smoke on Stolen Lands

For more than a year the villagers of Iraq Burin have been protesting the annexing of their land by the illegal Israel settlement of Bracha and invasions of settlers and the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) into their villages during the day and at night. Settlers for a time were invading and causing havoc in the village on Saturday.

Illegal Israeli settlement Bracha on the distant hill.

It was a pleasant May Saturday afternoon for the demonstration in Iraq Burin. Present for the demonstration were Palestinians from the village, Palestinian journalists and internationals from Romania, Canada, Australia, Spain and the United States, including the MPTers. Before demonstrators started to climb toward the opposite hilltop ridge soldiers from the Israeli Occupation Forces appeared at the top and spread out.

Israeli soldiers on the opposite hill,
look like sticks from a distance.

The demonstrators, chanting and announcing their protests through a megaphone, moved across the hill below the ridge where the twenty six soldiers were standing. The large number of soldiers seemed foreboding because the week before there had only been ten. There was no action for some time, then a youth who was a level below the soldiers tossed a stone.

Almost immediately the Israeli soldiers launched tear gas toward the marchers. The tear gas canisters which are extremely hot started fires in the dry vegetation, but village demonstrators also started small fires in the dry brush. The wind blew the smoke from the fires up the hill toward the soldiers. Before long the hilltop was covered with smoke. A few more tear gas canisters were launched.

A journalist was injured from a tear gas canister and was able to walk although in pain down the hill to a stretcher. MPT was told he was hit in the shoulder or thigh.

With this, the majority of the demonstrators moved down the hill toward the village ending the demonstration; however a small group of youth stayed in the area just below the olive grove and put out the fires creeping toward the olive grove. The Israeli soldiers stayed on top of the hill watching until the fires stopped and the youth descended to the village.

Both the Nablus fire truck and a Red Crescent ambulance came to the village to assist. The injured journalist was taken to a Nablus hospital.

One MPTer had stayed on the village side of the demonstration observing the hill where the demonstration took place. There was a group of villagers nearby who also observed the demonstration. One of them had a megaphone for communication with the demonstrators on the opposite hill. This strategy with megaphones is very effective because one is announcing to the soldiers that the demonstrators are present and moving and the one in the village is observing the positions of the Israeli soldiers on the opposite hill and can inform the demonstrators.

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