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.
Why is it that Palestinians are the only people in the Middle East seemingly not allowed to throw stones at a military regime which oppresses and controls them? Why are Palestinians branded as violent when they use the same tactics which the Egyptian and Tunisian protesters used during their historic revolutions? This question has been stuck in my mind since Obama’s recent speech on the Middle East.
On Friday, the Palestinian ‘Arab Spring’ was on display in Nabi Saleh. Watch the video. What do we see here? You will notice that the demonstration in Nabi Saleh, a small village west of Ramallah, began with no stones and only chants. The army quickly attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and sound bombs resulting in the outbreak of clashes between stone throwing youth from the village and soldiers. Do these youth have a right to throw stones at an invading army?
As the demonstration wore on, the army became more aggressive. At one point, soldiers decided to arrest over 10 Israelis in the village supporting Palestinian. For what reason were these Israelis arrested? For the same reason that at minute 2:55, you see a solider throw a sound grenade at the filmmaker responsible for the clip. The army does not want outsiders to understand what is happening to the Palestinian Arab spring in the West Bank. Who would have thought that the Arab Spring in Palestine would feature Israeli supporters resisting alongside Palestinians?
The shocking part of the clip comes at the end when the army brought in the ‘Skunk truck,’ filled with a corrosive petrochemical, and sprayed the village’s central square. Quietly, it covered buildings with chemical rendering them useless for weeks. This video reflects the realization of the Egyptian revolutionary model in the West Bank. This is what unarmed resistance and joint struggle to Israeli occupation looks like. This is the Arab Spring in Palestine.
Video by Israel Puterman
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) once again invaded and attacked the weekly non-violent demonstration in An Nabi Saleh. The IOF fired teargas, rubber bullets and sound grenades, declaring the village a closed military zone. At 11 Israeli activists standing in solidarity with the residents of An Nabi Saleh were arrested. Before leaving the village at dusk, the IOF spray putrid water from the “Skunk Truck” into the homes of residents and at demonstrators.
video by Tamimi Press
May 18, 2011: Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
Recent events have once more proven the potency of civil resistance, and its ability to bring about change and end injustice. From the Arab Spring to the recent demonstrations commemorating the Nakba, ordinary people are affecting change. While Abdallah Abu Rahmah is finally out of Israeli prisons, a new wave of repression is underway in the West Bank, and more protest leaders have been rounded up as Israel once more is set to suppress civil resistance to the Occupation. we need your help to stand by them.
 Recently, two leading protest organizers behind bars. Naji and Bassem Tamimi from the village of Nabi Saleh were jailed on equally dubious grounds to Abdallah Abu Rahmah. They were arrested based on confessions from teenagers who were themselves seized in midnight raids, denied legal counsel, and beaten. This is not justice. We must raise our voices again to secure their quick release.
The case against both Naji and Bassem is based on coerced confessions of teenagers taken at gunpoint from their beds in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers. The main “evidence” against them is the testimony of a 14 year-old who was beaten up on his arrest, denied legal counsel, denied his right to have his parents present during his questioning and instead of being told by his interrogators of his right to remain silent, he was told that “it is better you tell the truth”.
Please consider making a donation  towards Bassem and Naji Tamimi’s legal defense and/or use the templates in the following links to send an email to your Minister of Foreign Affairs and ask that your government acts for their release.
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Video: Tamimi Press
Video by Israel Puterman
Nabi Saleh is a regular target for Israeli military aggression. This week, the Israeli military exceeded even their normal excessive violence violently beating and attacking unarmed demonstrators at the weekly non-violent demonstration. At least 25 unarmed non-violent protestors were injured. One Palestinian women in her 50s who was beaten up so badly, she was evacuated from the Salfeet Hospital to the bigger and more advanced Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus. A 25 year-old American demonstrator suffered a serious head injury and an Israeli activist was diagnosed with two open fractures in his hand. Both were injured by tear-gas projectiles shot directly at them from short range, in violation of the Israeli Army’s open fire regulations. Four protesters were arrested in Nabi Saleh, including two Palestinian women.
The Violence in Nabi Saleh started today after Israeli Border Police invade the village, taking over the village’s main junction and tried to disperse the non-violent demonstration while it was still well inside the village, The officers began charging the peaceful protesters with batons, shooting large amounts of tear-gas – partly shot directly at the demonstrators – and carrying out arrests.
13 May, 2011: POPULAR STRUGGLE COORDINATION COMMITTEE
17 year-old was critically injured from live fire in East Jerusalem. An American protester suffered serious head injury after being hit by a tear-gas projectile shot directly at him from close range.
Israeli military and police forces responded heavy handedly to demonstrations commemorating 63 years to the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 today all over the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Morad Ayyash, a 17 year old from the Ras el-Amud neighborhood was shot in the stomach with live ammunition. He has reached the Muqassed hospital with no pulse and the doctors are now fighting for his life.
Tension also rose in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where 19 protesters have been injured and 11 were arrested. During the evening hours, large police forces raided houses in Silwan and carried out additional arrests.
In the village of Ma’asara, south of Bethlehem, two protesters were arrested during a peaceful demonstration that was attacked with tear-gas for no apparent reason. One of those arrested is a member of the village’s popular committee. In Nabi Saleh – a regular target for military aggression recently – soldiers and Border Police officers injured no less than 25 protesters, including a Palestinian women in her 50s who was beaten up so badly that her wounds required her removal from the Salfeet Hospital to the bigger and more advanced Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus. A 25 year-old American demonstrator suffered a serious head injury and an Israeli activist was diagnosed with two open fractures in his hand. Both were injured by tear-gas projectiles shot directly at them from short range, in violation of the Israeli Army’s open fire regulations. Four protesters were arrested in Nabi Saleh, including two Palestinian women.
Palestinians suffer from tear gas in Nabi Saleh. Photo: Joseph Dana
Getting to Nabi Saleh is not easy. The army closes all entrances very early on a Friday, the day which has seen demonstrations taking place for the past two years. This forces Israeli and international activists that wish to join the unarmed and largely nonviolent demonstrations to park kilometres away and hike through valleys and up small hills to reach the village.
Israelis soldiers were inside the village long before the demonstration began on Friday, creating an uncomfortable air of uncertainly amongst villagers. Adding to the uncertainty were the aggressive comments of one particular group of soldiers who had taken over a rooftop in the middle of the village.
“Soon,” one of the arrogant soldiers barked at an elderly villager in horribly accented English, “I will make your house go boom.” It was not clear if the solider meant that he would blow his house up or attack it with tear gas and stun grenades. Regardless, the elderly man was clearly shaken by the soldier’s violent comment.