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Controversy Erupts in Shooting at Fence

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  • Dan Clore
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles Controversy Erupts in Shooting at Fence by Dan
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 31, 2003
      News for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
      Controversy Erupts in Shooting at Fence
      by Dan Baron
      Jewish Telegraphic Agency

      Talk about trading places. Last month, Gil Na'amati finished
      his three-year stint of compulsory military service after
      serving in Israel's artillery corps and spending time
      operating in the West Bank. Now the 22-year-old kibbutznik
      is the poster boy for Palestinian grievances against Israel.

      During a demonstration last week by Palestinians and Israeli
      left-wingers against Israel's West Bank security barrier,
      Na’amati was shot by soldiers, who until recently might have
      stood shoulder to shoulder with him at a checkpoint. An
      American activist also was lightly hurt in the clash.

      "I was in the military and am familiar with the rules of
      engagement. What I did was not even close to something that
      I think would warrant opening fire," Na'amati said from his
      hospital bed, where he was recovering from leg and hip
      wounds. "It's unbelievable."

      The sentiments were echoed around the country after last
      week's incident at a section of the security fence outside
      Kalkilya. It was the first time an Israeli Jew had been
      targeted by forces meant to protect Israelis from
      Palestinian terrorism.

      The shooting was the latest incident to divide the country
      in the ongoing dispute over how to resolve the
      Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians and some
      left-wing Israelis have complained that the fence disrupts
      Palestinian civilian life and livelihood, while Israeli
      officials have maintained that it is a necessary bulwark
      against terrorism.

      Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, army chief of staff, ordered an
      investigation of the shooting, which occurred when Na'amati
      and fellow members of a fringe pro-Palestinian group,
      Anarchists Against the Fence, were protesting, along with
      the International Solidarity Movement. They attacked the
      barrier with wire cutters.

      Police questioned Na'amati under warning, meaning that his
      statements could be used against him if he is prosecuted for
      causing damage to the fence, unruly behavior and violating a
      military order prohibiting entry to the area next to the fence.

      Na'amati's father, Uri, said he advised his son to exercise
      his right to remain silent. The investigator decided not to
      press the wounded man for answers at this stage, in light of
      Na'amati's medical condition, the Israeli daily newspaper,
      Ha'aretz, reported.

      Ya’alon made no secret of where he believed blame for the
      incident lay. The protesters "masqueraded as Arabs, mingled
      with Palestinians and entered the Palestinian side of the
      fence illegally," he told Israel Radio.

      The commander of the force involved reportedly told
      investigators that he thought it was a group of Palestinians
      trying to break through the fence into Israel, and that it
      might be a diversionary tactic aimed at allowing a terrorist
      to infiltrate the fence at another location.

      Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim said soldiers followed
      orders by first shouting warnings and firing shots over the
      protesters' heads, before aiming at their legs. Witnesses
      disputed the account.

      Television footage showed soldiers taking aim at the
      protesters from approximately 50 feet away, despite clear
      appeals to the soldiers in Hebrew not to shoot. The footage
      had a major impact on public opinion.

      Ami Ayalon, a former chief of Israel’s Shin Bet security
      service, said any orders to shoot the unarmed protesters
      were illegal and should have been disobeyed. His viewpoint
      was endorsed by Avshalom Vilan, a former commando, member of
      the liberal Meretz Party and a founder of the Peace Now
      movement.

      "In a proper country, you don’t shoot civilians," Vilan said.

      At least one newspaper said the issue wouldn't have been a
      matter of such great debate had it been a non-Jew who was
      injured.

      "Let's not kid ourselves," an editorial in Israel’s daily
      Yediot Achronot said. "If a Palestinian" had been shot, "it
      probably would not have merited even one line in the newspaper."

      --
      Dan Clore

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