Text size

An Israel Defense Forces soldier has lost an eye after being hit by a stone during a demonstration against the separation fence on Friday.

Hundreds of local Palestinians, extreme leftist demonstrators, and Palestinian activists from Fatah, Hamas, and the National Front took part in the protest in the West Bank village of Bil'in, near Ramallah.

Military sources argued that the soldier's wound testified to the IDF's need to use controversial crowd control methods such as gas grenades and rubber bullets. According to the sources, it is common to see MKs and Israelis standing in the front lines of protests, creating a barrier between the soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators, some of whom exploit this barrier to throw stones.

Seven protestors were wounded, and two Israeli demonstrators were arrested. A second soldier was also wounded by lightly when he was hit by a rock.

Prominent figures attending the protest included Palestinian Authority minister Ahmad Majdalani, activist Mustafa Barghouti and MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash-Ta'al), who was treated for smoke inhalation after IDF soldiers used gas grenades against the demonstrators.

Tibi also claimed that soldiers singled him out and punched him. "They moved towards me like an arrowhead, one of them reached me, punched me in the stomach, smiled and left," Tibi said.

Tibi: Hurting Arab MKs - a hobby for soldiersProtesters allege that the confrontation broke out after soldiers provoked the demonstrators. According to activists the security forces hurled gas grenades, and several, including MK Tibi, were treated for smoke inhalation.

"We wanted to hold a quiet protest, but soldiers are probably instructed to assault public figures. They beat Arab MKs as a hobby," said Tibi who also called on the Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin make his stance clear and protect Arab MKs.

The IDF dismissed Tibi's claims as baseless, although left open the possibility that the MK was injured after security forces pushed back the protesters. In response, Tibi said "books can be written about the credibility of the IDF Spokesman. They had better wait before releasing such statements and look into the facts, and we have photos from the events," he said.

Israel uses sound technology to disperse riot On Friday, the IDF unveiled a new crowd-dispersal tactic, emitting painful bursts of sound at a special frequency to help break up the demonstration, military officials and witnesses said.

IDF officials confirmed soldiers used a new "non-lethal" tactic at the Bili'n demonstration.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity under army regulations, said the weapon uses "voice frequencies" to disperse crowds. They said Israel developed the technology over the past four years, but had never used it in a live situation before Friday. No further details were immediately available.

An Associated Press photographer said a military vehicle arrived toward the end of the demonstration, which lasted several hours.

Located about 500 meters from the demonstration, the vehicle emitted several bursts of sounds, about one minute in length each time. Although the sound was not loud, it caused people to cover their ears and grab their heads in discomfort.