12 September 2010 | ISM Media
The weekend of 10-11th September saw the start of Eid ul-Fitr, which ends the fasting observed during the holy month of Ramadan in the Muslim religion. Three villages around Ramallah – Bil’in, Ni’lin and An Nabi Saleh – held protests on Friday 10th September despite it being the first day of Eid.
This week’s demonstration against the illegal separation wall and its route through the village was yet again met with violence from the Israeli military. Despite it being the first day of Eid ul-Fitr, approximately 30 Palestinians, and 20 to 25 Israeli and International activists took part in the protest.
The demonstrations have been taking place on a weekly basis since March 2005, and consistently creative themes have drawn international attention to the village and to Palestinian non-violent resistance. This week’s theme drew attention to the multitude of unfounded arrests of Palestinians involved in the popular struggle against Israeli occupation. It focused on Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s case but called for the release of all those incarcerated as a consequence of their involvement in the resistance movement.
Regardless of the non-violent nature of the demonstration, soldiers fired tear gas directly at protestors for several hours. Many suffered from severe tear gas inhalation but none received serious injuries and no arrests were made.
The wall began being built through the village in 2005, was completed in 2007, and remains despite the 2004 International Court of Justice declaration of its illegality and even Israel’s High Court ruling in favour of the Bil’in villagers in 2007. The protests contest the building of the separation wall and its theft of 230 hectares of Bil’in’s land.
About 12 Palestinans were supported by around ten Israeli and international activists on Friday in a march towards the Apartheid wall that cuts the village off from much of its land.
Despite the fact that the beginning of the Eid ul-Fitr holiday had meant fewer protestors joined in the march, spirits were high and the determination of the people of Ni’lin was as strong as always. The group was met by a handful of soldiers on the opposite side of the wall, where one of the Palestinian leaders of the demonstration was able to confront the soldiers, speaking to them in Hebrew. The demonstrators were told that the area was a closed military zone, but no documentation was produced to prove this statement. After about 20 minutes and a few more threats of dispersal, the demonstrators chose to turn back to the village. The soldiers could be seen preparing tear gas to use on the group, but none was fired.
The people of Ni’lin village continued their struggle this Friday – despite the advanced stage of Ramadan – and have been doing through weekly protests since May 2008. In attempting to crush and deter peaceful protests against the wall Israeli soldiers have killed 20 Palestinians since Februrary 2004 including 5 from Ni’lin village, where an American solidarity activist was also critically injured. The illegal settlement of Mod’in Illit is one of the biggest in the area and is in the process of expanding and constantly attempting to annex Palestinian land to this end.
An Nabi Saleh
This week, the area had not been declared a closed military zone, and jeeps were not blocking the main entrance road to the village. The demo started around 20 minutes late, with a group of just under 20 Palestinians (as always including many children) and around 15 internationals.
Once the group arrived, the soldiers moved from their position in front of the gate at the edge of the village to standing behind it. They tried a few times to get the leader of the protest to leave, but he stood his ground, as children banged rocks on the metal gate and adults clapped along to the rhythm. After a few minutes at the gate, it was announced that it was traditional for the village to organise trips to those families who had members in prison, so the crowd turned round and headed back into the village.
Today and every Friday since January 2010, 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.