On Friday we reported on an incident that has received a lot of attention, the injuries sustained by Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti during a Land Day protest at Qalandiya checkpoint. Barghouti told me from his Ramallah hospital bed that an Israeli teargas canister had struck him in the head. Others asserted that he was attacked when supporters of his group, the Palestinian National Initiative, clashed with other Palestinian groups.
Yesterday the Palestine Monitor, which was founded by Barghouti, published an account by Ahmed Nasser:
Before the protest launched, the leaders of the political parties agreed to move towards the checkpoint. While they were walking down towards the checkpoint, unidentified individuals attempted to co-opt the peaceful non-violent protest. These individuals tried to hinder the unified demonstration. It should be clarified that at this moment, there were only verbal discrepancies amongst protesters, and not between political leaders, and it is crucial to clarify that Dr. Barghouthi was not part of the group.
At the same time, the Israeli security forces launched dozens of tear gas canisters and skunk water when the protest was on hold. It was at this moment when Dr. Barghouthi was hit in the head with a tear gas canister. Dr. Barghouthi was escorted to one of the ambulances that rushed to the scene. When Dr. Barghouthi was already inside the ambulance, which was heading to the hospital, this ambulance and another two ambulances carrying other injured protesters were attacked by the same people trying to co-opt the protest. There is no evidence that this violence was in any way targeted at Dr. Barghouthi himself.
I called Barghouti today and was told by a friend who got on the phone that he had nothing to add to Nasser's statement. Who were the individuals who had confronted the peaceful demonstrators? "We don't know." (I would add that when I asked Barghouti the other day about an Israeli government claim that he had been attacked by Palestinians, he said that was the "most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Why would any Palestinian attack me? I'm a leader of the Palestinians.")