Israeli Occupation Forces Teargas, Stun Grenade and Fire Projectiles on Demonstrators in Tulkarm
Palestinian activists and supporters along with students from the nearby Palestinian Technical University, Kadoorie of the village Tulkarm, a Palestinian city in the occupied northwestern West Bank, marched along the steel and stone wall surrounding the Israeli chemical factory, Geshuri, just one of eleven which are located in the village of around 50,000 residents and two refugee camps in Area C, over which Israel holds complete control. The crowd of nearly 100 demonstrated in protest of the air, water and ground pollution being caused by Geshuri; contamination which has cancer rates rising among Tulkarm residents.
As the march approached the barricaded doors of the factory, Israeli occupation forces began firing stun grenades from a watchtower into the crowd which held signs and banners declaring the human rights of their children not to be poisoned by the factory and decrying the offensive incursion the factory poses on their land. Moments later, a teargas canister was fired directly into a crowd of journalists who were covering the event. As the teargas rained down, demonstrators ran for safety while the soldiers shot a 23 year old Palestinian activist in the stomach with a rubber coated steel bullet- an incredibly painful crowd control projectile. The man was immediately rushed to the hospital for treatment while many others who were overcome by the gas gathered across the street.
Tulkarm residents have been resisting the presence of the Geshuri chemical plant for years, fighting against Tulkarm’s degradation- Tulkarm which was once a hub for trade and finance. “The city was rich: In the past it was an economic and commercial reference point as the transit of trade routes between Syria and Egypt, thanks to the Turkish railway line that ran through the city. Nowadays Tulkarem is dying. In 1984, Israeli authorities allowed a former military official to build a chemical factory in the city for the recycling of plastic. The Geshuri factory, previously located in the Israeli city of Netanya (just 12 km from Tulkarem), was moved to Tulkarem as Netanya residents filed a legal suit against the factory for pollution. For establishment of Gishuri in Tulkarem, the Israeli army confiscated 22 dunams of land, owned by the Palestinian family Abu Sham’a.” http://cjpp5.over-blog.com/article-the-alternative-information-center-palestine-israel-tulkarem-resists-separation-wall-israeli-chemica-102286346.html
Tulkarm is now Israel’s industrial settlement bloc. While the courts decided that the dangerous emissions from the factory were not okay to expose to Israeli’s in the city of Netanya, they have made it clear by the resettlement of Geshuri on the Palestinian side of Israel’s illegal separation wall, that Palestinian life is cheap- and expendable. “According to studies by Birzeit University and the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the air in Tulkarem contains increased rates of carbon monoxide and toxic substances that result in respiratory diseases. As a 2012 report of the Ministry of Health demonstrates, Tulkarem has the fourth highest cancer rate in the West Bank. Furthermore, a study by the University of Nablus found that in 77 percent of the Tulkarem area, there is a clear connection between the high cancer rates and the chemical substances of the factories. Reduced lung capacities, asthma as well as lung- and blood-cancer are probable consequences of living near the factories.” http://alternativenews.org/archive/index.php/politics/palestinian-society/7197-tulkarem-a-city-under-dust
Situated west of the city of Tulkarem and built on confiscated Palestinian land, Geshori produces paint, agricultural pesticides and recycled plastics. The first Israeli factories in the Tulkarm district were originally on Israeli land but were moved after local residents protested about the devastating environmental and health impact of these plants.
(Video attribution: Mohammad Othman posted on YouTube in November, 2011)
30 years later, the residents continue to resist the eleven Israeli chemical plants established there between 1985 and 2007.
Beyond the factory Israel’s illegal apartheid wall is visible, cutting through the grassy fields where rolls of barbed wire lay hidden in the over growth and barrier posts from behind which Israeli occupation forces fire and/or spy on the Tulkarm population are propped up just meters from where the students’ greenhouse structures are situated. Ahlam, an An Najah University student and PR coordinator for the Kadoorie Technical University walks international volunteers near the Israeli separation wall just beyond Geshuri. “There is no smell now,” the young Palestinian woman, whose name means dreams in English, says of the factories chemical emissions. “But around 3pm, the smell is so strong you cannot breathe. Everyone closes their windows. We need help to get the factories out of here.”
Students from Kadoorie hold regular protests at the wall, and against the backdrop of barbed wire and chemical mists exuding from the chemical plant, they are fired on by Israeli occupation forces who frequently injure students. “The last injuries were during the Land Day protests. Students were hurt when the soldiers threw sound bombs on them.” Through terror and occupation, the Israeli government has made life, health and safety points of instability for those struggling for breath inside of Tulkarm. Fearing to walk any closer to the wall, Ahlam turns to head back towards the school. “It’s sad what is happening here. We have no power.”