Gas canister injures Bil’in protester

By Ma’an News Agency – 23 April 2010

A Palestinian citizen of Israel was struck in the head with a high-velocity canister during a Friday protest against the separation wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in.

The man, identified as 43-year-old Imad Risqa from Yaffa, was transported to hospital.

An Israeli military spokesman said he was evacuated to an Israeli hospital by a Magen David Adom ambulance, and said medics with MDA described Risqa as “lightly injured.”

A spokesman for the Bil’in popular committee said the man was standing alongside his wife about 20 meters from the separation barrier, which cuts off the village from its ancestral agricultural lands.

The Yaffa man and his wife were participating in the protest following a conference, held in the village, which hosted more than 200 international and Israeli activists, and intellectuals speaking about popular resistance in the Palestinian context.

Three others, including one international, one Israeli, and a 70-year-old Palestinian, were also injured by tear-gas canisters. The three were treated by medics in the village, witnesses said.

The army spokesman said the military was only aware of one other injury, a Palestinian man who suffered tear-gas inhalation.

Four others were detained during the rally, including a photojournalist from the Palestinian Arabic daily Al-Haya Al-Jadida identified as Muhib Al-Barghouthi, witnesses said, while the military spokesman said six were detained for refusing to leave the area when presented with a closed military zone order. He reported that all were taken for questioning, while some were released and others taken elsewhere.

“They usually don’t use so many high-velocity guns,” the popular committee spokesman said. “They are very dangerous.”

“I don’t know why they would use so many canisters today,” a conference organizer said. “With hundreds of Israelis and internationals at the protest, someone was sure to get hurt.”

American activist Tristan Anderson was hit with a canister fired from the same type of weapon more than a year ago, on 13 March 2009. The canister cracked his skull and damaged his brain. He remains in a coma in Tel Aviv, while his family waits for his condition to stabilize enough for him to be transported home.

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