In November 2012, I travelled to the West Bank to initiate a story looking at life under occupation in Palestinian Refugee camps. Almost as soon as I arrived rocket exchanges between Gaza and Israel intensified for the first time in years, making international news.
During the two weeks of intense rocket fire, Gaza was decimated, and received casualties in the mass numbers, however, despite talks of Israeli soldiers entering Gaza to initiate a ground offensive, this threat never materialized due a cease fire agreed almost three weeks after the first rockets were fired.
In the West Bank however, it was a different story. Palestinian protests swept across many West Bank cities in response to the Israeli bombardment on Gaza, and so my story evolved.
Aida camp in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem is one of the only camps in the West Bank that borders the Israeli separation wall, and has a gate from an Israeli military post directly into the camp. Once the protests erupted the gate from the Israeli military post was opened and the camp was flooded with soldiers.
Clashes between residents and soldiers lasted for several days with the soldiers using tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and live rounds on the residents of the camp, who had only rocks as weapons. Palestinian press covered the events equipped with helmets, gas masks, body armor and zoom lenses.
— Will Hilton
FeatureThe Battle for
Bethlehem GateIn November 2012, rocket exchanges between Gaza and Israel intensified for the first time in years, and soldiers came streaming through the separation wall to fight on the ground. Photojournalist Will Hilton delivers this report from a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank.View Images
The Battle for Bethlehem Gate
In November 2012, rocket exchanges between Gaza and Israel intensified for the first time in years, and soldiers came streaming through the separation wall to fight on the ground. Photojournalist Will Hilton delivers this report from a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank.View Images
The Battle for Bethlehem Gate
In November 2012, rocket exchanges between Gaza and Israel intensified for the first time in years, and soldiers came streaming through the separation wall to fight on the ground. Photojournalist Will Hilton delivers this report from a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank.
Israeli IDF enter Aida Camp with Tear gas, rubber bullets and dirty water. © Will Hilton
A Palestinian local fights heavily armed soldiers with rocks and a catapult. © Will Hilton
A Palestinian local hides in a local youth centre when live rounds were fired by soldiers, he wears a scarf wrapped round his face to reduce the effects of tear gas. © Will Hilton
An Israeli soldier shoots live rounds at residents of Aida Camp, it is hard to tell if they are warning shots or if they are aimed with deadly intent. © Will Hilton
Two Israeli soldiers wait for further orders, quite casually conversing amongst the apparent chaos as if they are in a simulation. © Will Hilton
Smoke from a Molotov cocktail rises from Bethlehem Gate. © Will Hilton
Two Palestinian children watch timidly from the window of their home as their street is turned into a war zone. © Will Hilton
Local Press report on the clashes appropriately equipped with ballistic protective equipment and in some cases gas masks. © Will Hilton
An IDF soldier walks from a truck mounted with a water canon after preparing it for use. © Will Hilton
Palestinian Police were brought into the camp in an attempt to de-escalate the protesting Palestinian residents, however, they quickly found themselves sheltering in a cross fire, from both locals and the IDF. © Will Hilton
A local Journalist takes shelter in a youth centre, whilst he attempts to negotiate a safe passage for the other journalists through the street. The locals and residents of the camp would be given no such safe passage. © Will Hilton
A resident of the Camp uses Onion to subdue the effects of the tear gas, most Palestinians I saw had onion on them for exactly this reason. © Will Hilton
A child no more than 7 or 8 fights his way through tear gas fogging the streets. © Will Hilton
Local ambulances struggle to deal with the amount of casualties from both the tear gas and rubber bullets. There were several ambulances working all day long and in most cases, the ambulances would pass in the camp as they drove to and from the casualties. © Will Hilton
A young Palestinian is carried unconscious to an ambulance after being hit by an IDF rubber bullet. © Will Hilton
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