International Solidarity Movement
5 March 2010
Demonstrators in An Nabi Salih were met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and sound bombs. The IOF also fired skunk, a putrid-smelling chemical spray. One international was hit with a metal tear gas canister in the arm. Four Palestinians were injured, including a young man Ehab Fadel Beir Ghouthi, 14, from Beit Rima, who was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head. He was taken to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. He is listed in critical but stable condition.
An expectant air hung over the village of An Nabi Salih. This feeling was heightened as IOF soldiers gathered on a hilltop near the edge of the village. Despite this sentiment, An Nabi Salih decided to celebrate International Women’s Day. The popular committee of An Nabi Salih invited the mothers, daughters and sisters of the surrounding villages to join their demonstration for unfettered access to their farmlands and spring.
The march began in its normal fashion, but today the men’s voices, which demanded justice, were punctuated by the unusual and melodic accompaniment of women. An Nabi Salih’s weekly demonstration was halted by Israeli Occupation Force’s (IOF) use of copious amounts of tear gas in the opening minutes. The demonstration was pushed in disarray shortly after it began by the violent actions of the IOF. This disarray was short-lived as the demonstrators collected themselves.
The demonstrators quickly reconvened. Many women took the lead in defending the village from the IOF through non-violent tactics of organized community resistance. These efforts were successful for over an hour until IOF soldiers drove a large vehicle, which blasted skunk, through the demonstration. While shooting skunk, the IOF threw sound bombs and shot tear gas. The demonstrators were made to reassemble after this. In the interim, IOF soldiers took control of a building under construction and used its roof as a vantage point to take better aim the Palestinians who traipsed through their fields.
The IOF shot at the youth of the village from this building for nearly 40 min. Their targets were only 50 meters away from the soldier’s position. Yet, they still used rubber-coated steel bullets. The decision to use these weapons led to the critical injury of Ehab Fadel Beir Ghouthi of Beit Rima, a village close to An Nabi Salih.
He was shot just above his left eye. He maintained consciousness for only a few minutes. He was driven to Salfit Hospital and then transferred to Ramallah Main Hospital. Ehab underwent emergency surgery to remove either bone fragments from his brain or the rubber-coated steel bullet from his skull. It was unclear which, but the surgery was successful. Ehab was moved to an Intensive Care Unit and is listed in critical but stable condition.
The hilltop village of An Nabi Salih has a population of approximately 500 residents and is located 30 kilometers northeast of Ramallah along highway 465. The demonstration protested the illegal seizure of valuable agricultural land and the January 9th 2010 uprooting of hundreds of the village resident’s olive trees by the Hallamish (Neve Zuf) settlement located on highway 465, opposite An Nabi Salih. Conflict between the settlement and villagers reawakened in the past month due to the settler’s attempt to re-annex An Nabi Salih land despite the December 2009 Israeli court case that ruled the property rights of the land to the An Nabi Salih residents. The confiscated land of An Nabi Salih is located on the Hallamish side of highway 465 and is just unfortunately one of many expansions of the settlement since it’s establishment in 1977.