Fence protester hit in the head by tear gas canister
Jonathan Pollack, one of the leaders of Anarchists Against the Fence, suffered a head injury on Sunday inflicted by a tear gas canister fired by Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
The incident occurred when some 100 Israeli, Palestinian and international demonstrators were protesting against the separation fence in the West Bank village of Bila'in, near Modi'in. The protesters first burned tires, then marched for two or three hours, after which most of the demonstrators dispersed.
Pollack said that he, too, was leaving - going toward the village, away from the fence construction site - when he suddenly heard a shot. "I turned around, toward the firing, and saw a gas canister flying toward me," he said. The canister hit him in the head, causing a deep cut that split his head to the bone and required stitches. He lost consciousness for a few seconds and suffered heavy bleeding and dizziness.
A Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance came to evacuate him for treatment, but the soldiers refused to let the ambulance take him, insisting that he be transferred to an army ambulance instead, Pollack added.
Pollack and other eyewitnesses said that the canister was fired directly at him, in violation of army regulations.
Anarchists Against the Fence demonstrates against the fence about three times a week, and according to group member Ido Khenin, "there are almost always casualties - mainly Palestinians injured by gas inhalation and rubber bullets." But the only case that attracted serious attention was when Gil Na'amati was seriously injured by a bullet in late 2003.
Mohammed Khatib, secretary of the Bila'in local council, said that some 100 village residents have been injured since construction of that section of the fence began two months ago, and soldiers have fired some 1,500 gas grenades and rubber bullets at them.
Half the village's land, including much cultivated land, was expropriated to enable construction of the fence, along with construction of a new settlement called Matityahu East, Khatib said. At points, he added, the fence is only two meters from Bila'in's outermost houses.
In response, the IDF said: "We exercise judgment with regard to every demonstration. Usually, we let them demonstrate, but this time, there were disturbances of the peace. The force fired a gas grenade that hit a rock and Jonathan Pollack's head was sprayed."
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