By GERSHON BASKIN : Jerusalem Post
A recent trip to the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh shed a new light on the IDF and its operations.
For months I have been hearing about disproportionate use of force by the army against weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh – a small pastoral Palestinian village northwest of Ramallah. Last week, I watched several YouTube videos filmed by activists in the village, providing vivid visual images of the forceful arrests of protesters by the army. I was disturbed because all of the clips showed how the demonstrations ended; none showed how they began. I was convinced that there must have been stone-throwing by the shabab in the village which provoked the violent army responses. So I decided I had to see for myself.
When I contacted the Israeli activists who regularly participate in the Nabi Saleh demonstrations, I was warned that it was dangerous and that there was no way to know in advance when we would get home. They also warned that there was a high possibility we would be arrested. I am 55 years old, and have been demonstrating since the age of 12. I have been in dangerous situations before, and was prepared for another one.
ON FRIDAY morning I was picked up from French Hill at 10:30. We drove on 443 until the Shilat junction, and turned toward the West Bank. We drove off the beaten settlers’ track through the Palestinian villages in the area. We then turned off the road and parked in an olive grove. From there, we began a trek of about an hour through the hills, finally arriving, after a steep climb, at the edge of the village. Every Friday morning the army seals off the area and prevents entry and exit for all.
The 500 residents of Nabi Saleh, all from the Tamimi family, are demonstrating against the continuous encroachment of the Helamish settlement on their land. Since 2009, Nabi Saleh has been demonstrating every Friday.
In that time, some 200 villagers have been injured, more than 40 percent of them children.
More than 15% of the villagers have been jailed, and about 10 homes face demolition orders by the IDF; the village is located in Area “C,” which, according to Oslo, is under full Israeli control (62% of the West Bank is in Area C). Nabi Saleh has not received the same fame as Bil’in, whose six-year weekly struggle continues with a great deal of international attention.