B’Tselem Spokesperson Shot By Border Police

My friend, Sarit Michaeli, B’Tselem’s tireless spokesperson, was shot in the thigh with a rubber-coated bullet by Israeli Border Police

B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli, holds a rubber coated bullet, which was taken out of her leg, in Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, July 20, 2013. Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org

B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli, holds a rubber coated bullet, which was taken out of her leg, in Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, July 20, 2013. Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org

Friday during the weekly demonstration at a-Nabi Saleh, The Palestinian village has suffered from Israel taking parts of its land and the nearby settlement of Halamish stealing its already limited supply of water.

Sarit, in her account of the incident, which I’ve pasted below, makes it clear that there were no stone-throwers anywhere near her, that the police, as they regularly do, violated even their own rules of engagement, and that either she or some other non-violent civilians near her had to have been intentionally targeted: “In order to shoot at me, the soldier had to knowingly point his weapon in my direction, or in the direction of a medic and two Palestinian female protesters who were close to me. No one standing in my vicinity threw any stones.”

Sarit is only the latest victim of IDF violence at a-Nabi Saleh. As B’Tselem reports, in its brief but valuable backgrounder on a-Nabi Saleh:

On 9 December 2011 Mustafa a-Tamimi, 28, was killed while throwing stones during a weekly a-Nabi Saleh demonstration; a tear gas canister hit him in the head.

On 17 Nov. 2012 Rushdi a-Tamimi, 30 year-old, was injured by live fire during the weekly demonstration in which youths threw stones at the soldiers. He Died of his injuries two days later.

There have been regular, more minor incidents of excessive violence by the IDF.

I exchanged emails briefly with Sarit and she told me she is fine and certainly gave me the impression that all this has accomplished is to increase her determination and renew her already boundless energy. Here is the fullest account available thus far of what happened.

On Friday I was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet while documenting the demonstration in Nabi Saleh. The demonstration was dispersed by Border Policeman when the protesters were still on the main road that leads out of the village. After starting to disperse the crowds, a few kids threw a few stones in the direction of the Border Policemen. About 20 minutes after the protest had begun, and after the procession had already been largely dispersed, a group of about nine Border Policemen and IDF soldiers stormed the main road of the village next to the gas station in the direction of a group of demonstrators, who was running away from them up the road.

I stood aside, close to the gas station. At a certain point one of the soldiers shot at me from what I estimate was no more than 15-20 meters away. (The legal minimum range for a rubber-coated steel bullet is 50 meters).

I’m not really sure why I was shot at. I wasn’t in the path of the soldiers and I wasn’t doing anything that could be interpreted as a threat to them. They saw me beforehand with my camera filming, standing on the side, not in their way. In order to shoot at me, the soldier had to knowingly point his weapon in my direction, or in the direction of a medic and two Palestinian female protesters who were close to me. No one standing in my vicinity threw any stones.

The bullet penetrated my thigh and was removed in Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. I filmed the moment I was shot but still haven’t had the chance to upload the material. Bilal Tamimi, a resident of Nabi Saleh, uploaded this video showing what happened (minute 2:39).