A Palestinian man lost an eye after he was struck with a rubber-tipped bullet fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes that erupted last week in a village near Nablus, when soldiers entered the village in response to complaints by settlers claiming residents were shining blinding laser beams at them.
Adham Sha’er, a resident of the nearby village of Burqa, said he was not involved in the clashes at the West Bank village of Sebastia, and was struck while sitting in a coffee shop with his friends trying to avoid the riots.
Sha’er says soldiers then approached them and he was hit in the eye with a rubber-tipped bullet. “There were women and children in the coffee shop too,” he said. “I didn’t hear a warning and nothing was said to me before they fired at me.”
One of Sha’er’s friends, Farouk, said that they had met at the coffee shop after work. “Adham was wounded just as we wanted to go inside, because we were afraid of the riots,” he said. A video clip from the scene shows Sha’er lying on the floor, surrounded by plastic chairs and tables. “How am I supposed to feel after losing an eye?” he told Haaretz.
In another video clip that documented the clashes, a soldier is seen telling one of the village residents: “If he doesn’t stop with the laser I’m coming back here every night.” And in fact, one night later at 3 A.M., the soldiers returned to Sebastia. There were no reports of arrests.
The Israeli army spokesman said in response: “In recent weeks Palestinians from the village of Sebastia have been committing acts that disturb and endanger the daily lives of Israeli residents living near the village. They do this by using strong lasers from the built and open areas of the village, which are directed right at the houses of the Israeli residents, toward children, worshippers and combat soldiers in the area in a threatening manner that significantly harms daily life. In addition, the Palestinian residents of the village use a laser to intentionally blind cars driven by Israelis in the vicinity, in a manner that endangers human life. These actions are carried out constantly, almost all night, and for many hours."
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The statement continued: "As a result, on Thursday an IDF squad entered the village to stop the above acts, after warnings were not heeded by the offenders. When the squad entered the village a violent disturbance began in which some 100 Palestinians took part, during which stones, blocks and incendiary devices where thrown at the soldiers, and therefore the squad had to respond using riot dispersal means. The IDF will continue to act to protect security and public order in Judea and Samaria.”