“I am a student of agriculture and my passion is olive trees and olive oil. I have visited various Mediterranean countries studying olive trees.”
Patrick Corsi’s passion for olives trees and their fruit eventually brought him to Palestine where he knew that olives had further significance alongside their economic and culinary benefits:
“I came to Palestine as I knew that olive harvesting has become an act of resistance here.”
Once in Palestine, the 30 year old Italian worked throughout the harvesting season supporting Palestinian farmers. As he began to learn more about the wider political situation in Palestine he began to attend demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians. This decision very nearly cost him his life yesterday in the Qalqilya village of Kufr Qaddum.
Corsi says he always carries a Palestinian flag at demonstrations and yesterday was no different. Standing to the side of the main demonstration, resting for a minute with his flag tucked away in his pocket, he felt something hit his chest.
“I thought it was a rubber bullet. I moved further away from the main demonstration to the side. It wasn’t that painful at first. People then showed me the blood coming from my chest and the pain increased.”
The demonstration in Kufr Qaddum was protesting street closures that have been enforced by the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank village. One of the many effects of these closures was highlighted when the ambulance in to which Corsi was carried had to take a significant detour to get away from the village and towards the hospital in Nablus where his condition was eventually stabilised. Later in the day Corsi was transferred to Ramallah hospital for further treatment.
The Italian activist has no doubt that he is incredibly fortunate to be alive to tell his story:
“The bullet hit me in the middle of chest, between my nipples. It entered my body but missed my heart, lungs and main veins. I was really lucky.”
X-rays clearly show the bullet still lodged inside Corsi’s body. Doctors at the Ramallah hospital have told him that the bullet could be removed with an operation although if he prefers not to undergo further treatment it is stable and should not cause him major problems.
Corsi is just one of many injured yesterday during demonstrations across the West Bank. 18-year-old Palestinian Sami Jumma was also shot in Kufr Qaddum. Despite being hit in both the hand and leg he is also now recovering in hospital and described as ‘stable’ by doctors. In the Ramallah village of Bi’lin, 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Rahmeh was injured after being shot in the leg with a tear gas canister. Other injuries were reported at demonstrations in the West Bank near Qalandia checkpoint and outside Jalazone refugee camp. In Gaza, another Palestinian youth was hospitalised after being shot in the foot by Israeli forces east of Jabaliya refugee camp.
Corsi was the only non-Palestinian injured yesterday. As a foreign passport holder he will no doubt receive more international media attention than the young Palestinians who are today recovering from similar injuries.
In another room at Ramallah’s central hospital a 15 year child sits upright on his bed with his right jaw badly swollen. Ibrahim Khalid lives at the front of Jalazone camp close to the Beit El settlement and Israeli military compound. As a demonstration from the camp was nearing its end yesterday Khalid left his house briefly to buy goods from the local shop. As he left the shop, and only about 100 metres from his house, Khalid was shot in his jaw by a ball-type ‘rubber bullet’.
Khalid, like Corsi, may also consider himself to have been ‘lucky’ yesterday. From the family’s description, the supposedly ‘non-lethal’ projectile Khalid was shot with seems to have been similar to the one which killed 16 year-old Mohammad Sunkrot in East Jerusalem in early September. 5 months ago, Khalid’s brother was also shot on his way to the shop near their family house in Jalazone camp.
Friday’s have become a regular day of protest across Palestine. Friday afternoons and evenings have also become periods when Palestinian doctors regularly fight to the save the lives of people protesting and, in some cases, those visiting local shops.
MEMO Photographer: Rich Wiles