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Israeli forces arrest activists in Nabi Saleh

25 March 2011 | International Solidarity Movement

This afternoon nine people were arrested at a demonstration in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh. Among the arrested were two ISM activists along with one Danish, one Palestinian and five Israeli protesters. Both ISM activists report being beaten by the Israeli military whilst non-violently demonstrating. The Swedish activist was pepper-sprayed in the face before having his hands tied behind his back and being dragged around a corner and hit in the face several times causing his glasses to break. The other ISM activist, a woman from the United States was hit in her chest whilst being arrested. The third international from Denmark also had his hands tied before being dragged two metres by his hood and then beaten. Both men were left with their hands tied for over two hours.

The weekly demonstration had been going only a matter of minutes when the army began firing teargas and sound grenades into the crowd, and later entered Palestinian houses to look for activist to arrest. Nabi Saleh has a population of approximately 500 residents and is located 30 kilometers northeast of Ramallah along highway 465. Every Friday 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 Nabi Saleh through land confiscation. The illegal Halamish (Neve Zuf) settlement, located opposite 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 Nabi Saleh land despite an Israeli court decision in December 2009 that awarded the property rights of the land to Nabi Saleh residents. The confiscated land of 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.