Too Many Tear(gas canister)s: The Freedom Bus Hits Nabi Saleh – Occupied Palestinian Territories, West Bank

Posted on 23rd March 2014 in Reflections, Stories


Tear gas knows no political boundaries, regardless of its political origins, its distribution and dissemination. American tax payers purchase it for the Israeli Occupation forces and some of them/you can be lucky enough to get a tax rebate in the form of respiratory inclusion and ocular incursion. Other internationals, in this case about 30 persons mostly from Europe get a sort of tax bonus from US taxpayers. US nationals can consider it the gift that keeps on giving. Needless to say, the indigenous population, in the regions that are not typically traveled to by the proxy occupation forces (that would be foreign nationals working for NGO’s who live in the more ‘isolated’ regions of the West Bank like Ramallah, Ramallah, Ramallah and maybe Bethlehem and Nablus and other peoples whose governments support the occupation through funding and provision of military equipment and training), experiences tear gas, stun grenades, encondomized bullets, bullets, and hollow points on a regular basis. [Take a look at some videos posted by Bilal Tamimi from Nabi Saleh; what you will see will shock you - but nothing like experiencing it for yourself].


One of the things that I find striking is that the Israelis shoot indiscriminately on a group of internationals while they are being filmed. They must realize that it doesn’t look good for them when we, in this case those of us on the Freedom Ride, will be broadcasting our experiences, recordings, videos, photos through news media and social network outlets. It doesn’t look good for them at all and the more you people pay attention and begin to get organized with your local BDS organizations and, more importantly, break in/out to/from Israel on the human roulette wheel and, if you get in, make your way to Nabi Saleh, Al Tuwani, Jenin, Beit Jala and many other places in the West Bank and Gaza and experience for yourself the ritual abuse and humiliation that many of you are responsible for funding and, therefore, bear a great responsibility to transform the shituation through the normative means of the boycott divestment and sanctions movement, international law, and other forms of activism and solidarity. If you’re a US citizen you should also BDS the USG, become a tax resister, and again, come stand in solidarity with the Palestinian peoples who are the warmest, most welcoming culture I have yet to experience.


Tear gas evasion can be a tricky game. If you’re an Israeli soldier standing at the base of a hill preventing people from going to their spring or olive trees and you’re firing into the hills, you may well end up tear gassing your own ass. You have to be smart as an Israeli soldier being able to predict subtle shifts in pressure gradients. If you’re a demonstrator participating in acts of non violent popular resistance to the occupation forces you have to do much more than note the direction of the wind. You have to watch the the soldiers, note the aim of their weapons of identity destruction, predict trajectories to avoid getting hit by a canister as you navigate the rocky terrain, look out for your cohorts to make sure they’re not stuck in a plume of irritant, keep your eyes peeled for snipers in the back of jeeps firing live rounds or condom encrusted bullets, and try not to step on the indigenous flora which scatters the decimated landscaped burned by tear gas canisters, stun grenades and settlers nearly a stones throw away as the magpie flies.


You would think and hope being a foreign national that you would not be targeted during demonstrations. And, as I am starting to understand, most of you/us will not be directly targeted. Targeting civilians is, of course, a violation of international law and is considered a war crime. For the most part, the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) is protected from war crimes because they shoot indiscriminately a type of weapon that disperses its shot – be it rubber bullets or tear gas, so that if you are ‘accidentally’ hit, it can and will be claimed that you were not targeted. Otherwise, be you a 72 year old female from Denmark, a 65 year old American Frau, or a 25 year old Spanish women legitimizing your activist credentials you will certainly get a hefty dose of the rather nasty irritant. The only antidote I have found thus far which serves as panacea is hashish. Thus, when walking into the certitude of friendly fire (friendly because the soldiers and the villagers all know each other… for the most part) you should definitely spark up.