Karama: Eye Witness Account

الإثنين 16 أيار 2011

By Matthew Richardson

I was on a Palestinian protest convoy.  We arrived close to an intersection between Karama and the road leading to Allenby bridge in the Jordan Valley. People got out of the buses. There was some confusion about whether we should go further on the buses or protest where we were. In the end people split. Several hundred people got on the buses and went to car park close to the square of the unknown soldier in Karama. The rest (several hundred more), myself included, walked along the street towards the junction between Karama and the Allenby bridge road. We stood at the junction for several minutes before being directed by police to walk up the street to where the other group were, and so we began walking up the street. Uniformed officers seemed impatient and were threatening to hit us if we did not walk faster. We were suddenly attacked from behind by a mix of people wearing plain clothes and uniformed police. Both uniformed police and individuals in plain clothes began pelting the crowd with rocks, stones and pieces of wood. Some people from our group threw stones back. People from our group began to run up the street towards the Karama car park to get away from the attackers. A second group of people in plain clothes ahead of us then began throwing stones at us. I heard gun shots and many people in our group said someone from the group ahead of us was shooting at us. In addition to the police who were behind us, I estimate around 40 police were standing around doing nothing. Most officers seemed quite relaxed, some were laughing.

 

A couple of uniformed police spoke with the group ahead of us, stone throwing and shooting suddenly stopped from front and back, and we were quickly ushered by uniformed police into the car park to meet the rest of the Palestine protest. The atmosphere in the car park seemed more relaxed. People were chanting and singing, although occasionally several plain clothes people threw stones at our group. There was a line of police with their arms linked, and a group of Palestine protesters with their arms linked were pressed up against them. There was some pushing to and fro as people tried to push through the line of police. At this point nothing was being thrown and neither the police nor the protesters were striking blows at the other. Suddenly a group of darak armed with wooden batons pushed through from behind the police line, striking blows without restraint. Most protesters ran. Some tripped and were beaten on the floor by darak with wooden batons. At the same time a group of around 80 people in plain clothes appeared on the other side of the car park and began throwing stones, and several of them began firing hand guns at the crowd. Uniformed police and darak were stood with this group as darak launched tear gas cannisters at us. Some of the darak were firing the canisters in to the air so they arched back to the ground but many were firing the cannisters directly at protesters. The police and darak did nothing to stop the plain clothes group. On the contrary, the police and the plain clothed group appeared to be working together. They were stood side by side as they attacked us.

 

Most protesters retreated up onto of a steep bank overlooking the car park. Some stayed in the car park. A handful of them threw rocks at the police darak and plain clothes people. There was constant sound of gunfire. Someone (not from the group of stone-throwers) fell to the floor clutching his stomach, people tried to help him but the darak were firing tear gas at them. Eventually a group of uniformed darak lined up and charged up the bank under cover of the stones thrown by the plain clothed group. Two girls were struggling up the bank trying to get away. They had their backs to the darak who were launching tear gas cannisters directly at them. All the Palestine protesters ran up and along the narrow Earth bank and the darak chased. A girl fell behind and was beaten by the darak. A man tripped and when the darak caught up with him his was beaten on the floor by four darak with batons (see picture). Eventually we reached a road where we met the convoy. Cars with smashed windows were driving quickly trying to get away. People were running along the street along side the cars trying to bundle into vehicles. People were riding on the roofs and bonnets of cars.

I confirm that the contents of this statement which consists of one page is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.