My flatmates Michael and Joseph attended this demonstration. (I was supposed to attend as well but I haven’t gotten a replacement passport yet so I can’t travel into the territories currently.) They came home later that day looking absolutely devastated and exasperated, explaining they’d just spent the last hour clawing their way through a cloud of tear gas. What was intended to be a peaceful demonstration, akin to the March 20th peace march in Bethlehem (which culminated in a sit-in at a local checkpoint and the singing of “We Shall Overcome”) ended in inexplicable turmoil.
When I inquired what set off the violence, they explained that undercover IDF agents slipped into the crowd and started throwing rocks at the uniformed soldiers.
And now, an email I just got from a prominent leftist Israeli scholar:
I was in the demonstration in Bil’in yesterday (Friday), and I would like to inform you of a new tactics that the army seems to have practiced there: Several people were hit by what looked like stones, that came from the direction of the village, rather than the side of the army – the three I know of are ***, *** and *** (whose last name I forgot). *** managed to see the one who did that and tried to talk to him, and in return he pushed her aggressively. She said he looked first to her like a Palestinian, and it took a minute reflection, comparing the different experiences of those hit, and remembering last week’s experience, to understand this was a “mistar’ev”. So, while last time it seemed the mista’arving were throwing stones in the direction of the army as a provocation, now they were trying to scare Israelis into believing the Palestinians are throwing stones at them.
We should be aware of this new tactics, in case it occurs again. (The stones, if it was stones, were small, and did not cause serious injury. Their danger is more psychological than physical.)
What is so scary about non-violence?