On 15 July, thousands of people across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) took to the streets to demonstrate against the Prawer-Begin plan. The plan intends to disposes Palestinian Bedouins of approximately 100,000 dunums (10,000,000 square metres) of land in the Naqab desert, which is located in southern Israel. Should the plan be fully implemented, it would result in the destruction of 35 Palestinian villages and the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from their land.
During the demonstrations in East Jerusalem, Al-Haq documented numerous incidents involving excessive use of force by the Israeli police against Palestinian demonstrators, who had gathered in front of Damascus Gate. Israeli police, some of whom were mounted on horses, charged at the demonstrators and injured approximately 60 people, 12 of whom were transferred to hospitals in East Jerusalem.
Usama As’ad Mkhamar – Old City, East Jerusalem
On 15 July at around 9:00 am, Usama, 27, a volunteer paramedic with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), was in front of Damascus Gate where some 200 people, including both Palestinians and some foreigners, were demonstrating against the Prawer Plan. The demonstrators were holding Palestinian flags and chanting slogans in support of Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab. According to Usama, roughly 200 Israeli policemen, including eight mounted policemen, were stationed in the area.
At approximately 10:00 pm, the Israeli police forces attempted to disperse the protest. However, when the demonstrators refused to leave, the police officers adopted violent measures, including beating the protestors with batons. Shortly afterwards, the demonstrators tried to break away from the police officers and move towards the main road, but the officers continued to assault them. Usama witnessed three separate incidents in which Israeli mounted police officers trampled a Palestinian man, a pregnant woman and a child, all of whom were promptly rescued by Palestinian paramedics and taken to either al-Maqased or al-Muttala’ hospital, in East Jerusalem.
Subsequently, Usama and another paramedic tried to reach a demonstrator who had been knocked over by a mounted police officer. However, despite the fact that their uniforms clearly marked them as paramedics, they were pushed away by Israeli police officers using batons. Regardless of Usama shouting out “we are paramedics” one of the police officers beat him with a baton all over his body. Usama felt intense pain and was immediately transferred by an ambulance to al-Maqased hospital. There, doctors found that he was covered in bruises and that his left foot was fractured. As a result of the beating Usama also had trouble breathing and was given oxygen. After having received the necessary treatment Usama left the hospital at 2:30 am the following day. (Affidavit No.8797/2013)
Taysir Mustafa al-Natsha – al-Eysawiyya – East Jerusalem
On the same evening, at around 10:00 pm, Taysir, 11, was on his way to his grandparents' house in Bab Hutta in the Old City of Jerusalem, when he saw dozens of Palestinians gathered in protest on the stairs in front of Damascus Gate.
As Taysir walked in the direction of the protest the demonstrators began to run towards him in an attempt to escape from the Israeli police forces, who were charging at them. Within a few seconds Taysir was caught up in the crowd and a Palestinian man accidently pushed him to the ground. Immediately afterwards, a mounted police officer trampled the child. Taysir passed out and was then taken by ambulance to al-Maqased hospital, in al-Tour, East Jerusalem, where he later regained consciousness. From there, his father took Taysir to Hadassah hospital where the child underwent additional medical tests and was eventually discharged on 16 July at 1:30 am.
Other than the moment that he felt the horse trample him, Taysir barely remembers what happened. In the days following the incident, Taysir was still in pain and unable to sleep. His mother recalled that the child would scream out ‘I feel I am going to die’ in the middle of his sleep. Taysir is currently recovering from his injuries. (Affidavit No. 8975/2013)
Sa’id Abdul Nasir al-Rukn – Ras al-Amoud – East Jerusalem
Later that night the Israeli police forces were still beating Palestinians using batons and sticks, as well as stopping and searching bystanders and passing cars. At around 11:30 pm, Sa’id, 24, was walking back to his house in Ras al-Amoud, when he saw dozens of Palestinians protestors at Damascus Gate being attacked by Israeli police forces
Sa’id, who felt in danger of being attacked by the Israeli forces, tried to leave the area but was knocked to the ground by a mounted police officer. Once on the ground several Israeli soldiers beat Sa’id all over his body until he lost consciousness.
When Sa’id regained his consciousness, he was surrounded by Palestinian paramedics who transferred him to al-Maqased hospital by ambulance. Once there, Sa’id underwent several tests as he had bruises all over his body. Sa’id saw other Palestinians at al-Maqased hospital, who had also been injured during the protest. At approximately 1:30 am, Sa’id was released and returned home. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8796/2013)
Al-Haq condemns the excessive force used by Israeli police officers against Palestinian demonstrators. As the Occupying Power, Israel must comply with its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, which include the duty to safeguard the right of the occupied Palestinian people to freedom of assembly. Al-Haq also denounces the Prawer-Begin Plan, which, if implemented, will result in the forcible displacement of the Palestinian Bedouins living in the Naqab desert.