8 July 2008 for immediate release
As of today, Tuesday 8th of July 2008, the military curfew in Ni’lin has been lifted. In response to statements released earlier today by an Israeli army spokeswoman claiming that “There were discussions between the villagers and the army commanders and they decided to lift the curfew,” and that “The villagers promised not to protest and to keep the village quiet” (Reuters 7/8/08), the Ni’lin Popular Committee Against the Apartheid Wall wants to clarify the following:
The Popular Committee, who is representing the Ni’lin municipality, political parties, institutions and organizations in Ni’lin, has not been in any discussions with any Israeli army commanders and has not made a promise to the Israeli army that there will be no more protests.
No such discussions have taken place with the village. The Popular Committee wants to stress that the people of Ni’lin village will not give up their right to defend their basic human, economic, and social rights and therefore will not relinquish their
right to protest against the confiscation of their land. The people of Ni’lin are also not willing to give up their right to stand up against the construction of a Wall that has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.
The village will not be quiet! The demonstrations organized in Ni’lin were always of a peaceful, nonviolent nature. Each time, the unarmed demonstrators were met with severe force and heavy violence from the side of the Israeli army (often before even reaching the construction site), injuring many Palestinian, international and Israeli participants, even attacking and injuring journalists and medical workers.
The Ni’lin Popular Committee would like to draw attention to the following facts regarding the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli army and Border Police since the beginning of the construction of the Wall (May 2008):
*160 people were injured by rubber coated steel bullets during the protests, including children
*Hundreds of non-violent protesters were brutally beaten by the Israeli army during the protests
*26 people were arrested
*A Palestinian Medical Relief Society ambulance was shot at. The driver counted 18 bullet marks on the outside of the van and two of the ambulance windows were shattered, with several bullets found inside the van
*Many people in the protests suffered severe respiratory problems due to the heavy use of tear gas
*Tear gas canisters were shot directly into the crowds, aiming at people and injuring dozens
*The Israeli army started using a new tear gas machine, shooting 30 tear gas canisters at the same time
*The Israeli army used live ammunition on several occasions
*There were numerous incidents where the Israeli army invaded the village in the middle of the night after a protest, shooting tear gas and rubber coated steal bullets at and into homes where families were sleeping, and also arresting several people during these military incursions into the village
The curfew imposed on Friday 4th of July 2008 was yet another measure in line with the severely disproportionate tactics that the Israeli army is using to slam down the protests and silence the people of Ni’lin, who are merely trying to defend their land and lives through nonviolent measures. The Ni’lin Popular Committee against the Apartheid Wall strongly condemns these aggressive and unprovoked Israeli military policies that have been declared illegal under international law. The Popular Committee specifically condemns the recent curfew and siege on Ni’lin, which caused excessive damage and severe injuries in a village that is already being strangled due to the construction of the Wall.
The Ni’lin Popular Committee draws your attention to the casualties and damages caused by the 4-day curfew and siege on Ni’lin:
*The Israeli army injured more than 50 villagers with rubber coated-steal bullets, three of them were seriously injured by live
ammunition. They are currently undergoing treatment in different hospitals in Ramallah
*Hundreds of people suffered from respiratory problems due to teargas inhalation. Teargas was shot at and into the houses. Villagers, who went on their rooftops or gardens in order to try to communicate with family and neighbors, were immediately attacked with tear gas and rubber coated steal bullets. Even standing too close to the window meant risking being shot at. The firing of teargas and rubber coated steal bullets at the windows has caused irreconcilable damage to the houses in Ni’lin
*During the first three days of the siege ambulances were not allowed access into the village, the injured remained untreated
The body of a deceased villager was kept for four hours at the entrance of Ni’lin before they let the remains into the village for burial
*A woman in labor was not allowed to leave the village and was forced to deliver the baby at home
*A twelve year old boy was kidnapped from his home by the Israeli army, who kept him hostage for 2 days.
*The army invaded approximately 20 houses, breaking personal property in the house and beating women, children and men
*The army used bulldozers to dig up newly paved roads, thereby wrecking parts of the municipal sewage system and destroying a large portion of the village’s infrastructure. In order to strategically control the whole area of the village, they entered the girls’ school, breaking the school’s windows and doors
*Shops and businesses were closed during the curfew and people could not get to work, depriving the people of Ni’lin from their much-needed income
*Three journalists were detained for several hours while trying to report on the situation of Ni’lin.
The Ni’lin people are calling for local, regional, and international support to sustain solidarity with the village. This support is very much needed. The Popular Committee would also like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who participated in the demonstrations and for all the efforts individuals have put into advocating for Ni’lin, contacting political representatives, and drawing worldwide media attention. We cannot express enough our feelings of deep gratitude for all of these efforts and the coming efforts too!
This Thursday, 10th of July 2008, a monumental protest is organized for the 4th anniversary of the ruling on the Wall of the International Court of Justice. The protest will start at 11 am in front of the municipality of Ni’lin. We will leave Ramallah at 9.30 am from the bus station behind Ziryab. Please confirm your attendance by contacting Hindi: 0599 83 98 43. He is also available for questions regarding the protest or for more information regarding the situation in Ni’lin.
For online information, please refer to the following links:
http://www.palestin emonitor. org/spip/ spip.php? article439 or
http://www.facebook .com/inbox/ #/group.php? gid=18853218651&ref=mf