The aforementioned adventure with Jared was going to the weekly protest in the village of Ni’lin. The wall passes through their olive groves, and nearby settlements cut them off from 40% of their land. The protest followed Friday prayers in the mosque, and then several hundred people walked to the wall. Or, as close as the Israeli army would let us. Here is a short movie of the march.
The first volley of teargas came quickly. For ten seconds, I thought “what’s the big deal?” And then it hit. Eyes watering, coughing, sputtering, I ran through the prickly bushes, over loose stone fences, back to relative safety. I was wearing a press vest with ceramic inserts for impact protection. But people have been killed here, including children and internationals. They didn’t fire rubber bullets this time, only teargas, and that was enough for me.
We moved along the path of the wall, through the olive groves that the people are set on defending from the encroaching settlement. The soldiers followed, firing volleys from two flanks, pushing us up a hill and away from the wall. The wind was in our favor, and I wasn’t gassed again as badly. The shebab who moved forward to throw stones were used to it, and walked defiantly through clouds with only a scarf around their face. I’ll definitely send Jared my gas mask when I get back home; he’ll get more use out of it here than in Boston.
We walked back to the town through the olive groves. Last time Jared was here, the army invaded the town, and the violence continued for hours. This time at least, it wound down without serious incident. We hailed a taxi and went back to Ramallah to write, reflect, and shower. The shebab of Ni’lin will be back next week, and so will the army.
Here is Jared’s article for Ma’an, fresh off the wire: Israeli soldiers crack down on Ni’lin protesters.
Update, 7/19: International Solidarity Movement released this video of the protest. You can see Jared and me wearing black press vests running from a huge volley of teargas around 1:55.