Ex-MK arrested during protest of Bil'in activist death

Hundreds demonstrate in Tel Aviv against IDF crowd control measures; protesters chant "end the occupation."

By
January 1, 2011 22:35
2 minute read.
Protesters gather in Tel Aviv against Bil'in death

protesters in Tel Aviv against Bilin death 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

 
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Police arrested several protesters, including former Meretz MK Mossy Raz, at a rally outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv Saturday night. The demonstration was held a day after protester Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36, died from the inhalation of tear gas fired by IDF soldiers outside the West Bank village of Bil’in.

Arrests were made at the end of the protest, when police began forcibly moving protesters to clear them off the sidewalk across the street from the Kirya military headquarters.

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Raz was arrested during the fracas when police said he struck them. Witnesses in the crowd said Raz was the one who had been hit.

Hundreds took part in the protest, holding up pictures of Abu Rahma and chanting “End the occupation” and “[Defense Minister Ehud] Barak, how many protesters have you killed as of today?” Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz said he came “to show support for the family of the woman who died, whose brother also died in theseprotests.”

Abu Rahma’s brother, Bassem, was killed when he was hit by a tear-gas projectile fired at a demonstration in Bil’in on April 17, 2009. Jawaher Abu Rahma was buried next to her brother on Saturday.

Horowitz added that he felt “these protests [against the route of the security fence] are justified and legitimate,” and said “Israel must solve this problem, but not through the use of force.”

The route of the fence through Bil’in has made the lives of the residents unbearable, Horowitz said. He “supports the fence, but it must be along the Green Line.”

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Leading anti-fence activist Yonatan Pollak also took part in the protest, less than a week after he was sentenced to three months in prison for taking part in an illegal protest in Tel Aviv in January 2008 against the Gaza blockade.

Pollak, who was at Bil’in on Friday, said that “like every week, we began walking toward the fence when the IDF began barraging us with an insane amount of tear gas, even more than usual.”

Pollak denied that the tear gas came in response to stones being thrown by demonstrators, saying the gas canisters were fired “long, long before there could have been any stone-throwing because the protesters were still far away – too far to throw rocks.”

Pollak said there was only a small number of rock-throwers on the fringe of the protest, and that most protesters did not throw rocks. He said Abu Rahma was in the main body of protesters when she was overcome by tear gas.

Pollak, who has taken part in hundreds of demonstrations in Bil’in, said he believes the CS gas used by the IDF is the same it has used since the 1980s. He dismissed the idea that it can’t be lethal.

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, the use of CS is illegal in warfare, though many countries still allow it for domestic police use.

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