Palestinian Revolution?

On Friday I went to the anti-separation wall demo in Ni'lin in the West
Bank, the same village where International Solidarity Movement activist
Tristan Anderson was critically wounded last week. Several hundred
villagers were accompanied by Jewish Israeli activists (most with Anarchists Against the Wall ) and ISMers, plus a few journalists like me. The IDF started firing tear gas at us even before we got close to the wall. The shebab
(Palestinian youth) responded with stones, and the game was on: back
and forth street battles, with the soldiers alternating between tear
gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and occasional live ammunition, often
fired by snipers, and the shebab hurling their stones by slingshot against the Israeli Goliath.

The IDF often fires tear gas now with a high-velocity rifle
that can be lethal, especially when they fire it straight at you rather
than pointed up in the air. Pointed straight, it comes at you like a
bullet. That's what seriously wounded Anderson. I saw these projectiles
coming very near us, and saw how dangerous they could be. Not to
mention the live ammo they occasionally fired--but they fired live
rounds only at the shebab,
never at the Jews or internationals. After a few hours, the clashes
died down. Six were injured, one critically. Me, I just coughed and
teared up from the gas on occasion. (In simultaneous demos in the
nearby village of Bi'lin, three were injured, including two Americans.)

I mistakenly thought the army would be less aggressive on Friday, and
not only because of the negative publicity surrounding the shooting of
Anderson (the killing of Palestinians is of course routinely ignored in
Western media; in Ni'lin alone, four villagers have been killed in the
past eight months, with hundreds injured). The day before Friday's
march, revelations from Israeli veterans about war crimes they'd
committed in the recent Gaza campaign made world headlines .

As villagers prepared yesterday's march, Jonathan Pollock, a veteran
activist with AATW, showed me where Anderson was standing when he was
shot and where the IDF soldier was standing who shot him, just up the
hill. The soldier had fired a high-velocity tear-gas canister at close
range--what looked to me like about fifty or sixty meters--directly at
Anderson, hitting him in the head. It was hard to imagine the intention
could have been anything other than to seriously maim or kill.

The courage and steadfast resistance of the people of Ni'lin, and many
other West Bank villages just like it that are fighting the wall's
illegal annexation of their land, is truly remarkable. Every week, for
years now, West Bank Palestinians have stood up against the world's
fourth-most-powerful military machine, which shows no compunction about
shooting unarmed demonstrators. This grassroots resistance--organized
by the villagers themselves, not Fatah or Hamas--has gotten little
publicity from the world media , which seem to prefer stories about Hamas rockets and the image of Palestinians as terrorists.

The village protests against the wall are inspiring, and not just
because they've continued for so long, against such daunting odds. The
villagers recognize the power and revolutionary potential of mass,
unarmed resistance, and the shebab
with their slingshots hearken back to the first intifada of the late
1980s and the "children of the stones," when hundreds of thousands of
men, women and children were directly involved in the struggle against
the occupation. The Israeli government knows how difficult it is to
suppress that kind of mass resistance, which is why it has used such
brutality and provocation against the villagers. The army wants to shut
this uprising down before it spreads, and would like nothing more than
for the villagers to start using guns, as the IDF is certain to win a
purely military confrontation. The other inspiration of this struggle
is the courage and solidarity of the Israeli and ISM activists. They
risk their lives day after day, and the villagers appreciate it. I saw
signs in Ni'lin praising Tristan Anderson, who, just like Rachel Corrie
six years ago, was willing to sacrifice his life for Palestinian

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