5 Dec Kufr Qaddum
There has been a demonstration here in Kufr Qaddum every week for 5 years calling for their road to Nablus be reopened. After settlers built an illegal settlement on it the Israeli government closed the road. For Kufr Qaddum residents this means the trip to town, Nablus, and the hospital has gone from 10 minutes to 45 minutes. Residents tell me that people have died because of the longer ambulance trip.
We arrived early and were able to see the soldiers park their vehicle 150 meters farther away from the village than they were last week. They moved froward, dodging from behind one barricade to another. I sat on some steps right next to the road in a high visibility vest. As the soldiers moved forward everyone else moved back. I made believe I was filming with my cellphone which had no charge. After a while the soldiers moved up to where I was. Just as I was wondering whether they were going to pass me, leaving me on the opposite side of them from my friends. One of the soldiers yelled at me and signaled for me to move up the road toward the few gathered demonstrators and observers. I was not at risk from stones because there were none being thrown. I walked slowly and deliberately right down the middle of the street. If they had wanted to target an international here was the prefect target. Besides the usual M4s I saw a Ruger 10/22 and an M32 (the 40 mm tear gas 6 shooter). At this point I left the demonstration area and waited the half hour for the demonstration to begin.
When we returned the soldiers were much further forward and had an armored front end loader. As the front of end loader pushed dirt to the side of the road and picked up some tires the soldiers gave it cover from some imagined enemy. Apparently they were moving dirt to facilitate using the Skunk Water truck which would soon arrive. In the first 15 minutes of the demonstration the occupying army shot a journalist in the leg with a Ruger 10/22 (a 22 cal. LR with and expanding bullet). At this point the journalist was just 5 meters behind me. It seems ridiculous to have to say this but the journalist was not and had not been throwing any stones. At the time he was shot he was standing behind a video camera on a tripod and there was no one in line with him throwing stones. of him. The shot was from just 60 meters away and the solder must have had at least the standard 4X telescopic sight. It is hard to imagine how this could have been an accident.
While it clearly was not a mistaken shot and they chose to shoot an unarmed, non-aggressive journalist, it is important to remember that in the big picture this weapon should not have been being used at all. This weapon, the Ruger 10/22, was conceived of as a weapon to be used as the last last and final resort before the use of standard military NATO ammunition aimed to kill. This is a weapon that if shot at the legs, probably will not kill, but clearly will do so much damage that the person hit will have to be evacuated and spend several weeks in the hospital. It was billed as a last resort to remove particularly dangerous people from a riot at lower risk of killing them. After several people were killed the Judge Advocate General tested the weapon and restricted it to only be used as a last resort before shooting to kill. Now in this case no other crowd control devises or weapons had been used. I saw that they had tear gas available and there is a long list of less lethal weapons including rubber bullets, rubber coated steel bullets, bean bag projectiles, ballistic batons, etc that they should have been used first. Further more the soldiers were just plain not at risk.
Ten minutes after that they moved the skunk water truck up. This truck has a high pressure nozzle on top that sprays a stream of really disgusting smelling liquid – it really smells awful and is very hard to wash off. Most of the rest of the demonstration was soldiers shifting positions behind the skunk water truck with the skunk truck periodically making dashes forward to try to spray the demonstrators as they tried to run away. But each time it did this it came under a hail of training rocks. I could not see any damage, but it sounded as though it would have been all dents. After about 2 hours the soldiers started to with draw. As they with drew the threw the first two 2 gas grenades.