Thursday, December 31, 2009

The IDF confirms that weekly demonstrations are always violent

A month ago, I wrote "Protests that happen in Bilin and Na'alin (weekly, not daily) are anything but peaceful, and IDF soldiers often get injured from the violence."

A commenter insisted that I was wrong, and said that "The overwhelming majority of demonstrations at both sites you mention have been thoroughly peaceful. Your claim to the contrary is not only not objective, but also not true. "

His evidence for this statement was a heavily edited video that didn't show any demonstrator violence and seemed to show the IDF shooting tear gas for no reason.

Well, I asked the IDF themselves. This response is from the IDF Spokesperson's Office, sent to me via email, and is on the record:
In 2009, there were weekly riots in both Nil'in and Bil'in every Friday, with the exception of 18.12.2009 in Nil'in. Every one of these protests has featured violence on the part of the protesters, for the most part that entails rock throwing, although firebombs, and burning tires are also a frequent occurrence.

These riots have been taking place on a regular basis at both locations for the past two years. In 2009, 57 defense force personnel were injured by rioters. The security forces take standard riot dispersal measures when the riots turn violent and in 2009 they arrested 20 rioters in Nil'in and 20 in Bil'in.

On several occasions during these riots, defense force personnel were seriously injured. In January, a Nil'in rioter hurled a rock, hitting a reservist in the face, causing permanent damage to his eye socket. In another incident during a Nil'in riot in April, both an IDF officer and Border Police officer were seriously injured by hurled rocks and had to be taken to a hospital to treat their facial injuries.