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Ni’lin demonstrates against the Apartheid Wall

Ni’lin Youth Center

23 October 2009

More than 200 demonstrators attended the weekly demonstration against the Apartheid Wall in Ni’lin today. This week the demonstration was calling for Palestinian unity and the protestors demanded a stop to all factional rivalry and unite against the occupation. ‘The Palestinian people are one, the Palestinian people all live under occupation and we can only over come if we stand strong as one!’. This week there was a large number of international solidarity activists, who are currently in Palestine for olive harvest. There was a delegation from the Norwegian foundation BLETZ and around 20 to 30 other internationals from different countries, all carrying signs advocating for the Palestinian and calling to end the occupation.

The demonstrators carried a coffin that had statements written on it calling for unity, such as: ‘Palestinian brothers, Unite!’, ‘Stop the bloodshed amongst us’. A number of protestors had put stickers on their body with the same statements. All political parties active in Ni’lin were carrying their flags in the demonstration in order to show the unity amongst them. One participant stated: “In Ni’lin, we have been resisting the Apartheid Wall, the land theft and the aggressive Israeli occupation as one for 1,5 year now, we must all follow this path of popular resistance through unity in order to resist the occupation effectively. We are all brothers and we must support each other, otherwise our cause is lost.”

Once the demonstration reached the Wall, they were met with large quantities of tear gas and rounds of rubber coated steel bullets. Israeli soldiers wounded six people. One Norwegian solidarity activist was shot in his arm and received treatment on the spot. A resident of Ni’lin (20 years old) was seriously injured when he was shot in his jaw with a rubber coated steel bullet. He was taken to Ramallah hospital immediately for treatment.

The protesters tried to pull the concrete wall again, they pulled a small part of it, they want to send a message for the government of occupation that the wall will fall soon and the start will be from the village of Ni’lin, small kids also sent their message buy hitting the jeeps with a stones while they are hiding by the concrete, they said we are with our brothers and sisters against the occupation and against taken our lands.

The occupation forces opened the gates in the apartheid wall twice and more than 30 soldiers followed the protesters close to the village, the youth respond by throwing tear gas canisters and stones the invaded forces, one of the soldiers shoot live bullets, two of the youth lucky the bullets passed close to them, but despite the heavy use of bullets the youth pushed them back to the wall, the demo end after 6 hours.

Israel began construction of the Wall on Ni’lin’s land in 2004, but stopped after an injunction order issued by the Israeli Supreme Court (ISC). Despite the previous order and a 2004 ruling from the International Court of Justice declaring the Wall illegal, construction of the Wall began again in May 2008. Following the return of Israeli bulldozers to their lands, residents of Ni’lin have launched a grassroots campaign to protest the massive land theft, including demonstrations and direct actions.

The original route of the Wall, which Israel began constructing in 2004, was ruled illegal by the ISC, as was a second, marginally less obtrusive proposed route. The most recent path, now completed, still cuts deep into Ni’lin’s land. The Wall has been built to include plans, not yet approved by the Army’s planning authority, for a cemetery and an industrial zone for the illegal settlement Modi’in Ilit.

Since the Wall was built to annex more land to the nearby settlements rather than in a militarily strategic manner, demonstrators have been able to repeatedly dismantle parts of the electronic fence and razor-wire surrounding it. Consequently, the army has erected a 15-25 feet tall concrete wall, in addition to the electronic fence. The section of the Wall in Ni’lin is the only part of the route where a concrete wall has been erected in response to civilian, unarmed protest.

As a result of the Wall construction, Ni’lin has lost 3,920 dunams, roughly 30% of its remaining lands. Originally, Ni’lin consisted of 15,898 dunams (3928 acres). Post 1948, Ni’lin was left with 14,794 dunams (3656 acres). After the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, the illegal settlements and infrastructure of Modi’in Ilit, Mattityahu and Hashmonaim were built on village lands, and Ni’lin lost another 1,973 dunams. With the completion of the Wall, Ni’lin has a remaining 8911 dunams (2201 acres), 56% of it’s original size.

Ni’lin is effectively split into 2 parts (upper and lower) by Road 446, which was built directly through the village. According to the publicized plan of the Israeli government, a tunnel will be built under road 446 to connect the upper and lower parts of Ni’lin, allowing Israel to turn Road 446 into a segregated-setter only road. Subsequently, access for Palestinian vehicles to this road and to the main entrances of upper and lower Ni’lin will be closed. Additionally, since the tunnel will be the only entryway to Ni’lin, Israel will have control over the movement of Palestinian residents.

Israel commonly uses tear-gas projectiles, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition against demonstrators.

Since May, 2008, five of Ni’lin’s residents were killed and one American solidarity activist was critically injured from Israeli fire during grassroots demonstrations in Ni’lin.

  • 5 June 2009: Yousef Akil Srour (36) was shot in the chest with 0.22 caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
  • 13 March 2009: Tristan Anderson (37), an American citizen, was shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas projectile. He is currently at Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv with uncertain prospects for his recovery.
  • 28 December 2008: Mohammed Khawaje (20) was shot in the head with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition. He died in a Ramallah hospital 3 days later on 31 December 2008.
  • 28 December 2008: Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) was shot in the back with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
  • 30 July 2008: Yousef Amira (17) was shot in the head with two rubber coated steel bullets. He died in a Ramallah hospital 5 days later on 4 August 2008.
  • 29 July 2008: Ahmed Mousa (10) was shot in the forehead with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.

In total, 19 people have been killed during demonstrations against the Wall.

Israeli armed forces have shot 40 demonstrators with live ammunition in Ni’lin. Of them, 11 were shot with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and 24 were shot with 0.22 caliber live ammunition.

Since May 2008, 87 arrests of Ni’lin residents have been made in relation to anti-Wall demonstrations in the village. The protesters seized by the army constitute around 7% of the village’s males aged between 12 and 55. The arrests are part of a broad Israeli intimidation campaign to suppress all demonstrations against the apartheid infrastructure in the West Bank.