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Protestors hold firm around Palestine this week

International Solidarity Movement

6 July 2010

An Nabi Salih

Palestinian children confront Israeli soldiers

Palestinian children confront Israeli soldiers

The Friday protest in An Nabi Salih was passionate and vibrant as ever. Israeli Army jeeps pre-emptively invaded the village, setting up a roadblock at the main crossroads. Dozens of villagers, joined by a handful of international and Israeli activists, marched down the main street to meet them. The number of protestors soon grew as most of the people in the village came out into the streets to demonstrate against the soldiers.

The An Nabi Salih demonstration is specifically against the expansion of the nearby Halamish settlement, annexing An Nabi Salih’s land. But there is also a strong message against the Occupation in general.

Crowds of women and children in particular assailed the soldiers, singing and clapping. Chanting went on for almost two hours, with the soldiers still refusing to leave the village, until some local youths began throwing a few stones down the main street. The Israeli soldiers responded with disproportionate violence, firing volleys of tear gas canisters up the street at head-height, making a mockery of this supposed crowd-dispersal technique.

Skirmishes between soldiers and local youth went on almost until sundown, with the soldiers making forays deeper into the village but failing to capture any of the stone-throwers. Two Israeli activists were detained, however, for no other reason but criticising the soldier’s illegal invasion of the village. Both were later released without charge.

After some five hours of confrontation, the soldiers left An Nabi Salih, to the joy and relief of the villagers.

Ni’lin

This Friday, as every Friday for over two years, the villagers in Ni’lin together with international activists gathered to protest against the illegal annexation wall.

The demonstrators gathered in the olive groves outside the village after noon-day prayers, then marched towards the wall. When the march neared the wall the Palestinians chanted and waved their flags. Some shabaab (Palestinian youths) threw stones against and over the wall. Surprisingly there was no reaction from the soldiers on the other side, besides taking pictures of the shabaab. After about half an hour the protest ended and the protesters walked back to the village.

Bil’in

At the Bil’in weekly demonstration about 150 protestors carried a message to the Palestinian leadership, expressing the need for unification. A large banner showed a picture of Arafat and Yaseen together. The Israeli army was waiting on the other side of the Wall, responding with tear gas and stun grenades which set fire to several olive trees. Soldiers then charged through a gate in the Wall, chasing protestors back towards the village. Soldiers continued to fire on the retreating crowd, though luckily there were no injuries.

Heat from tear gas canisters and sound grenades set fire to the dry ground in several places, with smoke and gas forcing the people of Bil’in further back. Ammunition starting fires is a serious problem this time of the year, when the ground is dry. Many olive trees have been severely damaged, resulting in fewer olives for harvest this year.

Wadi Rahal

A few dozen Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals walked Friday at noon from Wadi Rahal to the site where Israel plans to build the illegal Apartheid Wall. There was plenty of energy, chanting and drumming (local and Israeli drummers). The army did not allow passage, and tried to push the demonstrators backwards. After a long non-violent struggle (i.e. the demonstrators acting non-violently) the soldiers started shooting tear gas and sound bombs, the first landing on a little boy’s leg. Two Israeli activists were arrested, illegally, for participating in the non-violent protest. The demonstration went on in a schoolyard nearby, still with great spirit and energy.

Iraq Burin

tear gas attack

tear gas attack

Some 50 villagers from Iraq Burin gathered for the regular Saturday afternoon protest this week, supported by five ISM activists. The Israeli Army attempts to completely close off the village each week, clearly hoping that the disproportionate violence of their behaviour will be invisible outside Iraq Burin. Activists are forced to take extraordinary measures to reach the village and document military violence.

On arrival in the village, ISM activists met with a local man, 22, who was detained and beaten after last week’s protest. He confirmed that he was punched and kicked repeatedly in police custody; he now walks with a pronounced limp and has constant pain in his back. He will not be able to continue his regular work for at least three months, and will have no income for that period.

After noon-day prayers, the protest group marched up a hill, across village land that is threatened by settler violence. As usual the group was met by a unit of dozen soldiers waiting at the top of the hill. There was some chanting against the Occupation, and a tense stand-off for a few minutes, the two groups standing about 50 metres apart. One of the Palestinian youths threw a single, small stone at the soldiers, falling well short of their group. Soldiers responded by firing tear gas at the Palestinians and internationals, aiming their canisters directly at the demonstrators, at head height. Some canisters narrowly missed hitting both Palestinians and internationals, and there were a few minutes of panic as the protestors retreated across the rocky, open ground, desperately hoping not to be hit.

Lighter skirmishes followed, until the soldiers left the village land after about an hour, bringing the demonstration to an end.

Hebron

On Saturday around two hundred Palestinian and International protesters gathered in the Old City of Hebron to protest against the illegal settlements and the closure of Shuhada street. Speeches were held by politicians from different parties, including Mustafa Barghouti. A massive amount of soldiers attempted to intimidate the participants and block their way into the Old City. But the demonstrators resisted non-violently and despite persistent violence from soldiers successfully paraded the Old City.

Beit Jala

On Sunday in Beit Jala some 30 protesters marched through a street that leads to the Apartheid Wall’s construction site. To the sound of the working bulldozers nearby, the march was stopped by a group of soldiers and a barbed wire they had installed earlier. The protesters demanded to go through to the Palestinian land being annexed and destroyed by the wall construction, and some touched the barb wire to show their contempt to the occupying army.

The soldiers soon launched an assault with sound bombs and then tear gas canisters, which were shot at the populated street far beyond the protesters. One person was treated for heavy tear gas inhalation. At a different spot the army incursion was met with stone throwers. The army then began terrorizing a main street in Beit Jala, traumatizing passers-by and the entire population of the area.