Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire has been shot with a rubber bullet by the Israeli military while taking part in a nonviolent civil rights protest organised by Palestinians and Israelis.
The incident took place on Friday 20 April, and Ms Maguire, famed for her work for reconcilition in Northern Ireland, has now returned home.
She won her Nobel Laureate for galvanizing popular demands for a just peace and opposition to both military and paramilitary acivities during 'the troubles'.
She said yesterday: “I was invited with my friend to attend a nonviolent conference in Bilin, a village outside Ramallah [in the West Bank], and to give a talk there, which I did. At the end of the conference, we were invited to participate in a nonviolent demonstration with some of the Palestinian members of parliament and Israeli peace activists and local villagers and international visitors.
“We walked along to try to walk up toward the separation wall, and it was a totally nonviolent protest. And we were viciously attacked by the Israeli military. They threw gas canisters into the peace walkers, and they also fired rubber-covered steel bullets."
Ms Maguire continued: “As I tried to move back and help a French lady, I was shot in the leg with a rubber-covered steel bullet, and the young Israeli soldier who shot me was only 20 meters from me. I was stunned by it, and then later on, after having some treatment by the ambulance medics, I went back down to the front line with the peace activists, and we were again showered with gas. I was overcome and had a severe nosebleed and had to be taken by stretcher to the ambulance and treated."
“And I witnessed there ... an old Palestinian man with blood on his face. These were over 25 unarmed peace people who had been viciously attacked by the Israeli military. And it was a completely peaceful protest. It was absolutely unbelievable. I never in all my years of activism witnessed anything so vicious as from the Israeli military.”
The Israeli military are under pressure to investigate the incident.