We had a demonstration in front of our building a few minutes ago. I estimated about 40 people were there, but the police say there were 56. The crowd was a mix of Americans, Israelis and Palestinians and it was a standard, American-style protest...lots of chanting and signs with slogans. I saw one that said, "I paid my taxes and all I got were dead children" (to which I cynically thought, "That's not true. You didn't pay your taxes"), and others that read "Smart Bombs, Idiot Leaders," "No to occupation," and "The US is a fascist state." The chants were a mix of English, Hebrew and Arabic, and I saw at least one sign in Arabic, but I couldn't read it.
The protestors were peaceful, and one even smiled and waved to me when I took some pictures from the balcony near my cubicle. But apparently they were protesting without a permit, so the Israeli Border Police decided to break them up (they have a station near us...we didn't call them). To break them up, the police ran through the middle of the crowd, forcibly dividing it in half. And when they ran through the crowd, tempers flared and I guess punches were thrown...they sort of pushed the crowd out of the way to behind a building, so I couldn't see what happened next. I hear yelling and could see some folks from the protest who had made it to point beyond the building where I could see them again, turn to look. Then suddenly there was some shooting and a bunch of percussion bombs were set off to disperse the crowd (they worked, the crowd scattered...and they succeeded in getting me away from the window as well, because they sound a helluva lot like regular bombs, or at least what I imagine regular bombs sound like!) I think all the shooting and bombs came from the border police, because I never saw any of the demonstrators with weapons.
When it was all over, the police had arrested four people. I saw that one of them was the guy who smiled and waved at me. What bothers me most is that they will blame the U.S., and all of us who were watching are serving partly because we believe so strongly in their right to protest.