‘Blinding the truth’: Israeli snipers target Gaza protesters in the eyes


Twelve-year-old Mohammed Al-Najar was shot in his eye by Israeli soldiers [Getty]

Tareq Hajjaj and Pam Bailey, The New Arab — Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 20 December, 2019

    To date, Gaza's Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye by Israeli soldiers since the demonstrations began last March leaving them permanently blind.

Tags: Gaza, Gazans, Great Return March, Israel, snipers, rubber bullets, eyes, injuries

Media coverage and social media posts went wild when Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh was blinded in his left eye after he was hit by a rubber bullet while covering a protest in the West Bank. 

However, Amarneh was far from unique; Israeli snipers targeting participants in Gaza’s weekly Great Return March protests have aimed for the legs – and eyes. To date, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye since the demonstrations began March 30, 2018 – leaving them permanently blind.

“Some of these protesters and journalists were hit in the eye with teargas canisters, but most were targeted directly with what is commonly called a ‘rubber bullet,’ giving the impression they are somehow benign,” says Ashraf Alqedra, MD, a treating physician at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital and spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

“But there is still steel at the core, and although these bullets don’t usually kill, they do grave damage. It is impossible to save an eye hit directly by a rubber-coated steel bullet.”

However, he adds, due to the Israeli blockade, there are no artificial, glass eyes in Gaza – only a cosmetic improvement, but one that can be a significant psychological aid. These are available only by travelling out of Gaza for treatment and permits for such journeys are often not granted.

According to data released by the World Health Organization, Gaza residents submitted 25,897 applications to travel via Erez Crossing to receive medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel; an average of 2,158 were submitted each month. However, the Israeli government only approved 61 percent.

Mai Abu Rwedah: the most recent victim

Mai Abu Rwedah, 20, grew up in north Gaza’s al-Bureij Refugee Camp in a family of nine children supported by a father who works as a janitor for a UN school. She just graduated from university, hoping to start her professional life as a medical secretary and contribute her income.

But that dream was dealt a severe blow December 6, when she became the most recent Gazan to lose an eye to an Israeli bullet.

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Maia Project Update

Latest Maia Water Filters in Rafah (28 Feb 2019)
from Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance

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Caves in the south Hebron Hills bring villages back to life

Ahmad Al-Bazz and Anne Paq, Mondoweiss, February 11, 2019

Anne Paq presented Intimate Portraits of Gaza’s Lost at the 2017 Madison-Rafah Rachel Corrie Commemoration. Based on the #ObliteratedFamilies project by Paq and Palestinian-Polish journalist Ala Qandil, the project profiled the annihilation of Gaza families during the Israeli bombardment in 2014.


Mahmoud Abu Arram, 72 (left) and his family stand in front of a renovated cave in the West Bank hamlet of Ar-Rakeez in the South Hebron Hills. (Photo: Activestills.org)

For weeks under the cloak of night Palestinians secretly renovated four caves and built a tin-roofed house in the West Bank hamlet of Ar-Rakeez where only a handful of residents live. Last week they opened the homes in a “bringing life back” ceremony.

The event was not announced in advance as to avoid any potential disruption by the Israeli army, locals said.

The caves were refurbished by Palestinians from the southern West Bank villages of Susiya, Masafer Yatta and At-Tuwani who are part of the Protection and Sumud Committee, a local group that seeks to prevent home demolitions, and with support from the Palestinian Authority.

Because of rigid Israeli planning restrictions and frequent settler harassment, most of Ar-Rakeez’s villagers moved to the nearby city of Yatta over the last 20 years. Four families said they will move into the fixed up caves, joining the three families who already live there.

Palestinian youth take shifts maintaining a presence in a cave they renovated. “We want to create life and encourage people to come back,” explains Sami, 21, one of the activists of the “Youth of Sumud” group, Sarura. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Screening of a short documentary about activism in the South Hebron Hills from inside a caves that was inaugurated last week, Ar-Rakeez. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Ayman Abu Arram, 40, said he will be one of the Palestinians coming back to Ar-Rakeez, “We left in 2004 because of settlers but we never completely left as we were coming from time to time to work on the land. We want to come back.”

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South Hebron Hills Update

Expulsion by a thousand cuts

Dear Friends,

The last weeks have been busy and challenging in the South Hebron Hills. Young Palestinians, with international and Israeli peace activists, have planted hundreds of trees. But this is also a difficult time. Soldiers and settlers have repeatedly forced shepherds off of Palestinian grazing land located near settlements and outposts, settlers have harassed schoolchildren and shepherds, and just last night Settlers uprooted more than 20 young olive trees.


christadelphia.org

The creativity, resilience and commitment to nonviolent resistance is more amazing here each year.

Here are a few recent events and photos.

On the night of February 4 Israeli settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on uprooted 23 olive trees on Palestinian land near Tuwani in Humra Valley. The trees have were recently planted during a nonviolent demonstration of Palestinians and Israeli and International activists.

On January 23 Israeli army and civil authorities used a bulldozer to destroy an agricultural field in the Palestinian village of Khalaya Al-Moghrabi. The farmer was already unable to work his land because Israeli authorities had confiscated his tractor.


The Palestinian road to Jinbah and the villages of Massafer Yatta

On January 31 the Israeli army used a bulldozer to destroy two sections of the road that connects the city of Yatta to Jimba village and the other villages of Massafer Yatta, making access to school, health care, commerce and other services even more difficult for the families living in the villages located inside the area claimed by Israel as Firing Zone 918.


School in Khallet Athaba

On January 30 The Israeli Civil Administration (DCO) issued demolition orders for the school and two private family houses in the Palestinian village of Khallet Athaba and a stop work order for a house in the village of Tuba.


Palestinian child from Tuba

Israeli authorities delivered a stop work order for the home of this child’s family in the village of Tuba. It is impossible for families to get building permits. And stop work orders are often followed by demolition orders.

Serious Escalation of Lethal Force in Eastern Gaza Strip

Israeli Forces Kill 7 Civilians, Including a Child

224 Others, Including 42 Children, 3 Women, 3 Journalists and a Paramedic, Are Wounded

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Ref: 111/2018, October 12, 2018

On Friday afternoon, 12 October 2018, using excessive force against the peaceful protesters in the eastern Gaza Strip for the 29th Friday in a row, Israeli forces Killed 7 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and and wounded 224 others, including 42 children, 3 women, 3 journalists, and a paramedic with live bullets and direct tear gas canisters. Ten of those wounded sustained serious wounds. Sixteen of those wounded sustained serious wounds.

According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed heavy deployment of the Israeli forces this week as the latter heavily fired live bullets, increasing the number of causalities.

According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed heavy deployment of the Israeli forces this week as the latter heavily fired live bullets, increasing the number of causalities .

The Israeli forces continued to use upon highest military and political echelons excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators who posed no threat or danger to the life of Israeli soldiers in the areas of demonstrations.

Investigations and observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers emphasize that the demonstrations in all areas were as always fully peaceful, and neither weapons nor armed persons were seen. However, the Israeli forces’ snipers continued to position on the hills, behind the sand berms and in military jeeps along the border fence.

The incidents today, 12 October 2018, were as follows:

At approximately 14:00, thousands of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to the 5 encampments established by the Supreme National Authority for the Great March of Return and Breaking Siege along the border fence, east of the Gaza Strip governorates. They raised flags and chanted national songs. Hundreds, including children and women, approached the border fence with Israel, set fire to tires and gathered 300 meters away from the main border fence. Some of them attempted to throw stones at the Israeli forces, pulled parts of the second barbed-wire few meters away from the fence established inside the Palestinian territories few meters away from the border fence and in limited cases, they threw Molotov cocktails along the border fence. Some of the protestors also attempted to cross the border fence, particularly in eastern al-Buraij refugee camp. However, there was no threat posed on the lives of Israeli soldiers stationed behind barracks and sand berms, 70 meters along the border fence.

The Israeli shooting, which continued until 19:00, resulted in the killing of 7 civilians, including a child. Four of them were killed in eastern al-Buraij refugee camp, 2 were killed in eastern Gaza City and on in eastern Rafah.

The persons killed were identified as:

  1. Ahmed Ibrahim Zaki al-Taweel (23), from Deir al-Balah, was hit with a live bulllet to the chest ineastern al-Buraij refugee camp.
  2. Mohammed Abdul Hafith Yusuf Isam’il (29), from Deir al-Balah, was hit with a live bullet to the chest in eastern al-Buraij refugee camp.
  3. Ahmed Ahmed Abullah Abu Na’im (17), from al-Nuseirat refugee camp, was hit with a live bullet to the chest and incised wound to the left arm in eastern al-Buraij refugee camp.
  4. Abdullah Barham Suleiman al-Daghmah (25), from ‘Abasan al-Jadidah in Khan Younis, was hit with a live bullet that peneterated the right side of the abdomen and exited the left side in eastern al-Buraji refugeec amp.
  5. Tamer Iyad Mahmoud Abu ‘Armanah (21) from Rafah, was hit with a live bullet to the head in eastern Rafah.
  6. ‘Afifi Mahmoud ‘Ata al-‘Afifi (18), from Gaza City, was hit with a live bullet to the abdomen in eastern al-Sheja’eiyah neighborhood.
  7. Mohammed ‘Essam Mohammed ‘Abbas (20), from Sheikh Redwan neighborhood was hit with a live bullet to the head and succumbed to his wounds he sustained in the evening in eastern al-Sheja’eiyah neighborhood.

Moreover, 224 civilians, including 42 children, 3 women, 3 journalists and a paramedic, were hit with live bullets and direct tear gas canisters. Sixteen of theose wounded sustained serious wounds in addition dozens suffering tear gas inhalation and seizures after tear gas canisters were heavily fired by the Israeli soldiers from the military jeeps and riffles in the eastern Gaza Strip.

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