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ISM Update of 20 March 2003: Nablus


ISM Update of 20 March 2003: Nablus

Nablus: Israeli Army Reinvades Old City; ISM Activist Shot and Injured by Rubber Bullets

Before dawn this morning the Israeli Army of Occupation invaded the Old City with tanks and motorised infantry for the fifth time in the past month.

Their tactics were the same as on previous occasions.

Certain houses were occupied, their residents locked in a small room or cellar, while soldiers commandeered the rest of the building as a sniping position.

The Jamal Abed Nasser School in Ras El-Ain was occupied and turned into a detention centre, tanks were stationed at major intersections and soldiers went from house to house blowing the doors in with explosives, passing between houses by blowing "rat-holes" in walls and destroying the insides of flats and apartments by setting off explosions inside them.

For many families in the Old City this was the fourth or fifth time in the past month that they had been terrorised in this manner after having painstakingly repaired the damage wrought on previous occasions. As an added refinement the Occupiers also went to each of the schools in Nablus City and ordered their closure.

The ISM's response to the invasion was to divide into three groups responsible for:

1.. Defending the family homes of suicide bombers and other members of the armed resistance to protect them from demolition by the Israeli Army;

2.. Delivering food and medicine to and otherwise comforting the residents of occupied houses;

3.. Monitoring clashes between the occupation forces and the shabbab (Palestinian stone-throwers); It was while monitoring such a clash at the eastern entrance to the Old City that Eric, an American activist from the United States, was wounded by four rubber bullets fired at him by an Israeli border policeman.

The group of four activists (from the US, Switzerland and Denmark) were in the company of a group of Palestinian medical volunteers monitoring the uneven contest between two tanks and a jeep full of border policemen and between fifty to a hundred Palestinian youths armed with stones and bottles.

The group of international volunteers stood a safe distance from the shabbab but were on hand to provide medical assistance to those injured by the Israelis. Throughout the confrontation the volunteers wore fluorescent yellow vests and were clearly visible to the Israelis.

About an hour into the confrontation Eric was hit by a volley of rubber bullets sprayed into the crowd by one of the border policemen's weapons. He was hit once in the chest and right arm and twice in the left leg below the knee. The impact of the bullets knocked him to the ground but he was immediately given first aid by his fellow ISM activists and the Palestinian volunteers before being taken to hospital in an ambulance. Although he was heavily bruised and suffering from shock, he was found to be otherwise uninjured.

Presently the Old City remains under occupation, although it is possible that the Israelis might withdraw during the night.

Today's violence against Eric is believed to be part of a pattern of escalating violence against the ISM, the aim of which seems to be to intimidate its activists into abandoning their campaign of non-violent resistance to the Occupation.


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