International Solidarity Movement
22 May 2010The West Bank village of An Nabi Saleh held their weekly demonstration on Friday, attempting to reach the village land that has been annexed by the illegal settlement of Halamish. Demonstrators marched down from the village mosque till they were blocked by a line of Israeli soldiers and jeeps. Participants chanted, danced and sang for approximately half an hour before the military decided to violently disperse the group by throwing tear gas and sound grenades directly at the participants.
Soldiers continued to fire gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at the villagers for several hours, injuring several people, including a local teenage boy who was hit directly in the face by a canister. It opened up a hole in his face and shattered his cheek bone. As the ambulance tried to drive him away to hospital, soldiers fired volleys of tear gas at it, forcing it to turn around and take a much longer route round.Towards the end of the demonstration, two internationals were arrested.The two, Swedish and Canadian citizens, were not taken to military base, but were held for four hours in a small shack. They were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs for the whole four hours, before being released without charge. A similar ordeal was endured by three Israeli activists arrested earlier in the day in Bili’in.
The hilltop village of An Nabi Saleh has a population of approximately 500 residents and is located 30 kilometers northeast of Ramallah along highway 465. Today and every Friday since January 2010, around 100 un-armed demonstrators leave the village center in an attempt to reach a spring which borders land confiscated by Israeli settlers. The District Coordination Office has confirmed the spring is on Palestinian land, but nearly a kilometer before reaching the spring, the demonstration is routinely met with dozens of soldiers armed with M16 assault rifles, tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and percussion grenades.
The demonstrations protest Israel’s apartheid, which has manifested itself in An Nabi Saleh through land confiscation. The illegal Halamish (Neve Zuf) settlement, located opposite An Nabi Saleh, has illegally seized nearly of half of the village’s valuable agricultural land. In January 2010, hundreds of the village residents’ olive trees were uprooted by settlers. Conflict between the settlement and villagers reawakened due to the settlers’ attempt to re-annex An Nabi Saleh land despite an Israeli court decision in December 2009 that awarded the property rights of the land to An Nabi Saleh residents. The confiscated land of An Nabi Saleh is located on the Hallamish side of Highway 465 and is just one of many expansions of the illegal settlement since its establishment in 1977.