Just before 10:00 pm last night, approximately 500 Palestinians gathered for a demonstration in response to the lynching of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Facebook messages and texts spread the message to Bethlehem’s shebab that the demonstration would take place in on Jerusalem-Hebron Road. Hundreds of young men met at the entrance to Dheisheh camp and marched toward Rachel’s Tomb, where one of the main military gates opens up to the heart of Bethlehem, exactly between Aida and Azza Refugee Camps.
The procession was slow before a few broke away to throw a molotov at a tower on the Separation Wall, hitting the front window and setting it ablaze. Several others began throwing stones and a few lit off fireworks aiming toward the wall and tower.
Soldiers emerged from the gate and fired tear gas and rubber bullets. The shebab spread across the street, lighting tires on fire and hurling stones toward the group of Israeli soldiers standing near the gate.
After an hour or so, a shot is fired and the shebab agree its live ammunition. Another shot comes after a few minutes, this time it hits a young man in his leg. Eventually, soldiers retreat and open the small window in the gate, aiming down the street. The tower window opens and another soldier takes position.
Both weapons pictured here are sniper rifles (M24) that have accuracy rates within 3.8 inches when fired from 300 yards away and soldiers fired at least 6 shots and 3 young men were all hit in their legs and sent to the hospital. At least two others were sent to the hospital for injuries from plastic coated steel bullets.
Quotes from shebab:
“There’s a demonstration today at this checkpoint because of what happened in Jerusalem. The people who are all here today, they feel very angry about what happened [with Mohammed Abu Khdeir]. (22-year-old)
“They came here because of Mohammed Abu Khdeir who has been killed by the Israeli settlers in Jerusalem and they’ve come to defend themselves. They feel angry about what’s happened.” (20-year-old)
“They feel afraid because the soldier is putting his laser from his gun on the people.” (21-year-old)
“People from the West Bank and the Gaza strip, all of them are together in these last few days because of what has happened in Jerusalem. It’s not just people from Shuafat who are demonstrating against Israeli soldiers – but we and Shuafat, all of us are together against these Israeli soldiers.” (15-year-old)
At one point, a few minutes after the last shot, youth from across the street begin to call for an ambulance. The wounded young man resists their efforts to help into the back of the car after it pulls up. He limps like he’s just stubbed his toe. Eventually he gets in and the ambulance races off.
“When you get hit with these bullets, you don’t feel much until later.” says a 21-year-old.
Medics reported 3 wounded from live ammunition and 2 from rubber bullets that penetrated the skin.