Non-violent protesters are rising up to challenge the Israeli occupation, from the chambers of Congress to the shores of the Mediterranean. And while other action have received global media coverage, a small West Bank village named Nabi Saleh has been struggling without the attention it deserves.
Its residents have been organizing a campaign to challenge the illegal theft of their land by the settlement of Halamish since January 2010. Dozens of men and women have been gathering every Friday to voice their opposition to the injustice they face, using creative actions and non-violent demonstrations. The weekly protests are also joined by international and Israeli solidarity activists.
In an attempt to silence their dissent, the Israeli army has utilized banned high-velocity tear-gas projectiles, rubber-coated steel bullets and at times, even live ammunition at demonstrations. Additionally, the Army is conducting an ongoing arrest campaign against men, women and children in the village. Between January 2010 and April 2011, the Army carried out 73 protest-related arrests. One of the arrested is Bassem Tamimi, a main organizer and member of the local Popular Committee.
Netanyahu retorted to an interruption by a pro-Palestinian protestor in Congress, that only in democratic nations are such protests allowed. But the violent attack she faced from nearby AIPAC delegates in the Congressional Gallery and the jailing of non-violent organizers across the Palestinian Territories suggests otherwise. Tamimi, a father of four and a respected member of his community, is sitting in jail for the crime of non-violent organizing.
In his recent court, Tamimi stated, “I organized these peaceful demonstrations to defend our land and our people.” Tamimi also challenged the legitimacy of the very system which tries him, saying that “Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws […] that are enacted by authorities which I haven’t elected and do not represent me (See Tamimi’s full statement).”
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Ambassador András Dékány stated, “The rights of Israeli and Palestinian Human Rights Defenders protesting peacefully against settlements and the separation barrier are severely curtailed. While the EU welcomed before this Council in March the release of Abdallah Abu Rahma, the EU is concerned that other human rights defenders continue to be detained for their non violent protests. The EU is observing the trial, which opened on 5 June before an Israeli military court, of Bassem Tamimi, an activist of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh affected by the illegal settlement expansion. The EU is also concerned by reports that journalists in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are exposed to severe harassment as this affects negatively the right to freedom of expression. Impunity for such acts is unacceptable (see EU’s full statement).”
Tamimi’s next hearing will take place on the June 27th at the Ofer Military Court , when testimonies will be heard in this case for the first time.
Will you tell you government to act?
Join us in calling for release of Bassem Tamimi and Naji Tamimi.