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Israeli soldiers violently suppress demo; sweep through houses to carry out arbitrary arrests in Nabi Saleh

29 July 2011 | Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

Military checkpoints were set up early in the morning on all roads leading in and out of Nabi Saleh this Friday, as the Israeli army does every Friday in its attempt to prevent people from outside the tiny village to support the villagers in their struggle for land and dignity under the Occupation.

A few hours before the demonstration was scheduled to begin, a number of armored military vehicles drove into the village and unloaded dozens of soldiers into its single street. In the clashes that ensued with local youth, the soldiers shot volleys of tear-gas and took over two houses. In the first of what seemed to be a systematic attempt to stifle media coverage, a Palestinian cameraman was beaten and then detained despite having showed his accreditation with the al-Ayyam daily newspaper, only to be released a few hours later without his camera’s memory card.

Meanwhile, and American activist on his way to the protest, was detained by the soldiers manning the checkpoint at the main entrance to the village. His wallet, phone, passport and driver’s license were taken away from him as he could see smoke and hear shooting coming from the direction of the village.

Eventually, his possessions were returned to him and he was told to turn around and head back to Ramallah. A military jeep was sent trailing his car to make sure he indeed does so. Shortly after regaining his phone, the activist found out that soldiers at the checkpoint used his logged-in twitter account to post anti-protest messages in broken English.

After the Friday midday prayer, people were able to gather next to the village’s mosque, but were attacked less than a hundred meters after the peaceful march began in a hail of tear-gas shot from multiple directions. Every attempt to regroup and resume marching was again answered by a shower of tear-gas projectiles, many of them shot directly at demonstrators. Three protesters were injured that way, including one in her head.

At some point, soldiers begun sweeping through houses, going door to door, randomly detaining people in the street or from inside their houses. Three Palestinians and three international activists were detained this way, only to be released later with no charge and without even being questioned. Soldiers also detained an Israeli cameraman who tried to film the soldiers wanton rampage through the village. His camera was violently snatched from him, causing it to break. Like the other detainees, he, too, was released shortly after.