Palestine: Eyewitnesses Report Tear Gas at Bil'in Demonstration

Palestinian woman Jawaher Abu Rahma died in the West Bank village of Bilin on December 31 2010. The 36-year-old protester's death was caused by inhalation of tear gas fired by the Israeli Defense Forces. Bilin is a village situated directly on the Israeli-built security fence. Israel has subsequently claimed that tear gas did not cause the woman's death, though tweets from eyewitnesses corroborate extensive use of tear gas. The Jerusalem Post further published an article on January 5th supporting claims that Abu Rahma was killed by tear gas.

On January 7th, 2011, Palestinian women gathered in Bilin for a vigil in remembrance of Abu Rahma. They were joined by members of the Israeli Knesset, Israeli protesters, and international media. Several Twitter users present at the demonstration provided frequent updates on the demonstration.

Jessica Devaney, an American, followed the demonstration from its beginning:

Vigil of women at Jawaher's family's home in Bil'in. Around 70-80 Palestinian women and a few internationals present.

She continued:

People gathered at fence chanting. Army approaches tear gas canisters in hand

The tear gas use affected her personally, but also extended beyond the protest:

Just hit with my first dose of skunk spray. Its as horrible & disgusting as I've heard

Gas reaches all the way into the center of the village. Everyone is suffering.

Joseph Dana also followed the entirety of the demonstration:

30-50 soldiers crossed. Massive amount of gas. Maybe more than last week

While tracking the progress of the tear gas, rubber bullets, and several ambulances removing injured, Dana added:

Let's be clear israel has such attacked an unarmed demo in bilin which had international diplomats, israeli mks and massive foreign press

Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli and Tel Aviv resident, corroborated these reports, adding that the IDF seemed to be taking greater precautions to prevent injuries:

army very careful today. Too many israelis, i guess

And, he added humorously:

got the weekly dose of tear gas, can start weekend

Another eyewitness tweeted at the conclusion of the demonstration:

Thanks heavens for twitter. We have the power to report the truth as it happens. Three cheers for twitter and the popular struggle!

The official Twitter account of the IDF summarized the event saying:

2 violent + illegal riots taking place- ~300 rioters near Bil'in + ~60 near Ni'lin hurling rocks @ security forces.

For greater detail from these tweeters, and additional tweets from others, read the following (in English unless otherwise noted): @ibnezra, @ygurvitz (Hebrew), @nsheizaf, @tamarzandberg, @jessicadevaney,@ PSCC_Palestine, @itamar_b (Hebrew), @IDFSpokesperson.

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