Things You Find On The Ground In Historical Palestine

ImportantCool’s Andy Beale presents here a list, with photos, of things found on the ground in historical Palestine.


A Palestinain child holds up an unexploded tear gas cannister in Bilin

A Palestinain child holds up an unexploded tear gas cannister in Bilin.

This child found an unexploded tear gas canister on the ground in his village, Bil’in. Yes, of course it’s dangerous for him to be holding that. No, it’s not a toy. So it goes.

Tear gas has killed at least two people in Bil’in: Bassem Abu Rahma, felled in April 2009 while trying to alert Israeli soldiers that an Israeli demonstrator was caught in a cloud of the gas. Soldiers responded to his warning by firing a long-range tear gas canister directly into his chest, killing him on the spot.

A year and a half later, his sister Jawaher Abu Rahma was poisoned to death by massive tear gas inhalation. It should go without saying that neither Bassem nor Jawaher were armed when they were killed. Also unexpectedly, no Israeli soldier ever faced any kind of consequence for their murders. A memorial for them made entirely of tear gas bombs fired in the village now stands on the site where Bassem was killed.

In nearby Nil’in, a US citizen was shot in the head with a long-range tear gas canister, suffering brain damage and falling into a coma. Today, half of his body is paralyzed. Again, his attackers were never brought to justice. Oh yeah, and as usual Obama didn’t say shit.

In another West Bank village, demonstrator Mustafa Tamimi was killed while throwing stones at a heavily-armored Israeli jeep. Were his killers ever brought to justice? Guess.

The frequency with which these things can be found on the ground in the West Bank is staggering. Here’s a small part of one family’s collection:

A Palestinian family's collection of  Israeli Projectiles.

A Palestinian family’s collection of Israeli Projectiles.

Note the variety. I’ve been shot with these things on several occasions, luckily always the “good” kind, never the kind that killed Bassem and Mustafa. In one case, the soldiers clearly shot me in the back with a tear gas canister on purpose, knowing full well that I’m a journalist. A high-velocity tear gas canister can be seen in the bottom left of the photo. It’s the one with a black rubber covering.

Some types of tear gas burn upon being shot often setting fire to Palestinian fields. Here’s a burned one I found on the ground in a village called Beitunya:

BeitunyaTwo copia

Fire caused by a tear gas canister killed a toddler in Qalandiya refugee camp, a few kilometers from where I lived in Ramallah. The extreme heat put off by burning tear gas canisters makes it really impressive that this guy was able to do this:

A Palestinian throws a an Israeli Teargas canister back at Israeli soldiers.

A Palestinian throws a an Israeli tear gas canister back at Israeli soldiers.

And one final photo to give you an idea of the scale of tear gas use by occupation forces.

Public art from the debris of occupation.
Public art from the debris of occupation.


A burning tire on the road in Dair Jaririr

A burning tire on the road in Dair Jaririr.

That’s how folks do during demonstrations. In this case, those burning tires serve as nothing more than a minor nuisance to passing traffic. Other times, they serve an incredibly useful defensive purpose:

A burning tire is placed in the road to block Israeli forces

A burning tire is placed in the road to block Israeli forces.

Of course, it may not help you for very long, because the soldiers just bring out one of these nightmares:

Israeli Bulldozer in Kufr Qaddoum

An Israeli bulldozer in Kufr Qaddoum

As a general rule (I’m willing to admit there are some exceptions), Israeli soldiers give no fucks whatsoever about human life and will run you down with that bulldozer without a second thought. If that statement makes me sound like an extremist, ask Rachel Corrie’s parents what they think about it.


I don’t have photos of this, because I just never thought to, which I guess makes me a terrible journalist. But here’s some guns, anyway:

Occupation forces

Occupation forces

Finding bullets on the ground is super-common. Inside Israel, I would sometimes find brand-new bullets that soldiers had just carelessly dropped on the ground while flirting with their girlfriends and eating ice cream or whatever. In the West Bank, I would find spent shells after the soldiers had opened fire on people, like when they shot this kid through his book bag and killed another teenager too just for a what-the-hell-why-not bonus. That happened a few scant weeks before the disappearance of the three Israeli settler teens, which every single freaking person in America knows about. But unless you follow Palestine very, very closely, it’s almost certain you didn’t hear about the two teenagers murdered by Israeli soldiers immediately before the disappearance of the settlers.

CNN ran with “The Israeli teens killed: Promising lives lost” during their near-round-the-clock coverage of the Israeli disappearances. They didn’t have anything like that to say for the deaths of Nadeem Nawara and Mohammad Salameh. They weren’t “promising” enough for CNN, I guess, whose “journalists” probably figured they just would have grown up to be terrorists anyway.


A young Palestinian man killed by Israeli forces.

Young Palestinians killed by Israeli forces

Speaking of bullets, here are the bodies of Amer Nasser, 17, and Naji Biblisi, 18. They were murdered in cold blood by Israeli soldiers, with Nasser killed immediately while Biblisi was hunted down and executed by sniper rifle. Israeli soldiers also prevented a Palestinian ambulance from reaching Nasser after he was shot, which potentially could have saved his life.

Biblisi was left dead on the ground for roughly seven hours. At least the Israelis gave his body back to his family, something they don’t always do, because holding onto dead bodies as a form of punishment is completely normal for a Western democracy. And, of course, it wasn’t the last time a dead Palestinian teenager would be discovered lying on the ground…


Israeli forces busy defending western values.

Israeli forces busy defending Western values.

You almost can’t see him for all the cop in the frame. I was, obviously, there. This guy didn’t do anything at all to deserve this. I also saw them knock a handicapped girl and an old woman down this same day, but luckily didn’t arrest them.


"Rubber" bullets.

“Rubber” bullets

These are some souvenirs I brought (read: smuggled) back home with me, after having found them — where else? — on the ground in the occupied West Bank. The one on the left is made of rubber. The one on the right is a steel musket ball covered in about a millimeter of hard plastic. Israel refers to both of these as “rubber bullets.” You do not want to get hit by the one on the right. A videographer I knew named Mohammad al-Azza was shot in the face with one of these for filming. You should click that link. I knew him and can verify that it’s all true. The most moral Army in the world!


Flag copia 2

Palestinian flags are somewhat taboo in Israel. Well, “somewhat taboo” is kind of an understatement, as in reality they’re often outright banned. As recently as 2013, Israeli cops were arresting people for the simple act of displaying their national flag. Because Israel, as they never tire of telling us, is the only democracy in the Middle East with full civil, political, and cultural rights for all its people. Provided, of course, that they happen to be Jewish and don’t dare to voice opposition too loudly.

In the West Bank, I once saw Israeli soldiers shoot a man in the leg for carrying a Palestinian flag. I’ve seen countless others, including women and children, beaten for the same crime. Demonstrations in the West Bank generally take part in marches lasting 10 minutes or less, before they are forced to flee under a hail of rubber bullets and a monsoon of skunk water. Marchers often drop their flags as they run for their lives from heavily armed occupation forces. This flag is my pride and fuckin’ joy, as I found it crumpled, trampled, and muddy in the middle of a demonstration and managed to bring it back to the states. It went up in my window when Israel started bombing Gaza on July 8, and now there are just too many dead children for me to take it down.


A pile of trash in the Bab Al3amud neighbourhood of Jerusalem

A pile of trash in the Bab Al3amud neighbourhood of Jerusalem

This is a photo of the holy city of al-Quds, known to most Westerners as Jerusalem. Al-Quds is a city divided, with the eastern half remaining under Jordanian control after the creation of the state of Israel, until it was seized by Zionist forces in 1967. The UN considers East al-Quds to be occupied territory, and the Israeli neighborhoods that sprung up after ’67 to be illegal settlements. Israel, of course, doesn’t see it that way, insisting that Jerusalem is the “undivided capital of Israel.” But then, Israel doesn’t see most things the way a normal person would.

Municipal spending by the Israeli government, the only authority in al-Quds, is much, much higher in the western half of the city and the Israeli settlements, with Palestinian residents — 30 percent of the population — receiving only 8 to 11 percent of the budget. Guess which half of the city this photo was taken in?

In the West Bank, the situation is even worse, as the majority of the population receives no trash collection due to the difficulty of building a garbage dump on land occupied by the IDF, who certainly aren’t going to give up any of their land for it. Israel also illegally dumps garbage and toxic waste on West Bank land. Then there’s the case of Wadi al-Na’am,a Bedouin village where Israel established a toxic waste dump, despite the fact that it’s inside Israel and the people living there are Israeli freakin’ citizens. Full rights for Arabs, in-goddamn-deed.


Stones from Kufr Qaddoum

Stones from Kufr Qaddoum

This is a stone. It’s just a normal stone. This is how you use it:

Palestinian youth in Nabi Saleh makes like David.

Palestinian youth in Nabi Saleh makes like David.

When enough people do it right, you get this:

Stones litter the ground following a confrontation with Israeli forces

Stones litter the ground following a confrontation with Israeli forces.


Horse shit.

Horse shit

Why yes, in response to the question I anticipate you have, it is pretty common to find horse shit in a lot of places. The difference being, the horses don’t usually look likes this:

Wild West Bank.

Wild West Bank

And they’re not usually armored:

Armoured Cavalry

Armored cavalry

A Palestinian cameraman I know once told me, “They’re not horses, man. They’re tanks with legs.” Being charged by those things feels kind of like you took some bad acid and wandered into the middle of a freeway — giant hell beasts suddenly bearing down on you in an inexorable flood of warhorse. An Israeli cop once grabbed me out of my hiding position and threw me in front of a charging police horse, which was not about to stop out of consideration for my health or anything like that. I missed being trampled by about a third of a second. Because again, physical attacks on journalists are a major feature of most Western-style democracies. Or am I thinking of failed states?

Well, that’s about it for our magical journey through the world of stuff found on the ground in historical Palestine. Be sure to check out the artefacts cave for a video of how so much of this stuff ends up on the ground in the first place.


(September 22, 2014)
Summary: Related Comments commentsImportant Cool
Categories: AT15SEPT2014
Andy Beale(September 15, 2014)
Summary: Original story. This video shot by Andy Beale is a video supplement to his story “Things you find on the ground in Historical Palestine.” It gives a quick idea of how so much of that crap ended up on the ground in the first place. AT15SEPT2014 Related Comments commentsImportant and Cool Associates
Keywords: Andy Beale, Important Cool, Israel, Palestine, Tear gas
Categories: AT15SEPT2014



Andy is a journalist living and working in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the home of Walter White and the world capital of nuclear weapons. He has reported first-hand from conflict zones around the world, ranging from occupied Palestine to drug-war-ravaged Mexico. He's covered diverse issues such as the struggle for transgender rights in Istanbul, violations of the Geneva Convention in the Israeli prison system, and of course, the collective psychosis of his hometown's world-famous police department.

He began his career writing for the University of New Mexico's student newspaper, one of the U.S.’s only daily student publications. He then went on to freelance for the Alibi, an Albuquerque-based alt weekly, covering immigration, the drug war, and the Occupy Movement. In 2011 Andy received an invitation to attend the School of Authentic Journalism in Mexico, where he was invited by another course participant to move to and work in the Occupied West Bank. He lived there for nearly two years writing investigative reports on Israeli crimes as well as colorful features on Palestinian arts and culture. Following Israel’s 2012 assault on the Gaza Strip, Andy gained access to the embattled enclave for a feature on the experience of medical professionals in the strip during Israel's eight-day bombing campaign.

Andy has contributed to the Electronic Intifada and VICE magazine on couchsurfing in the Israeli settlements; the Albuquerque Police Department's ill-advised "Police Shooting Contest"; and the ongoing eviction of 40,000 Bedouin residents of the Naqab desert.

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