B’Tselem Report – Show of Force: Israeli Military Conduct in Weekly Demonstrations in a-Nabi Saleh

By B’Tselem: September 2011

To read full report click here

 

A-Nabi Saleh is a Palestinian village in the West Bank, north of Ramallah. For for more than eighteen months now, every Friday, its residents have demonstrated against settlers seizing nearby land that belongs to Palestinians. The Friday processions held in the village have become one of the main sites of weekly protest in the West Bank in recent years.

In their handling of the protests in a-Nabi Saleh, Israel’s security forces have infringed the rights of the Palestinian demonstrators in three fundamental ways, as follows:

Security forces disperse a demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, 21 May 2010. Photo: Oren Ziv, activestills.org
Security forces disperse a demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, 21 May 2010. Photo: Oren Ziv, activestills.org

Violation of the right to demonstrate

B’Tselem’s documentation indicates that Israel does not recognize the right of a-Nabi Saleh’s residents to demonstrate. Israeli security forces prohibit the demonstrators from reaching the site that is the subject of the demonstration – al-Qawas Spring and the land around it – and prevent the procession from exiting the village towards the spring. Also, the army declares the demonstration illegal at the outset, sometimes even before the procession begins. The army also issues an order declaring the entire village a closed military area every Friday, and blocks the roads leading to it. As a result, persons from outside the village are unable to exercise their right to join in the demonstration.

Video by B’Tselem
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Excessive use of means for dispersing demonstrations

The security forces’ use of means to disperse the demonstrations is excessive and occurs even when the demonstrators are nonviolent and pose no threat. The forces fire enormous quantities of tear gas inside the built-up area of the village, which is home to hundreds of persons. In one demonstration, at least 150 tear-gas canisters were fired. In another demonstration, security forces hurled tear gas canisters at a procession of children in costumes who were flying kites. At times, the tear gas canisters are fired directly at the demonstrators, endangering their lives. Also, security forces throw stun grenades almost without limitation at children and adults alike, to disperse them, even when they pose no threat whatsoever.

Video by B’Tselem

Harm to the civilian population

The army and the Border Police invest a great amount of resources in dispersing these regular demonstrations, in which several dozen people participate. These resources include the deployment of forces at the main intersection of the village, and the vast quantities of means to disperse demonstrations. Handling of the demonstrations in this manner is disproportionate. It intimidates hundreds of villagers and forces them to remain in their houses for many hours, making it impossible for them to lead a normal life. The massive amounts of tear gas fired penetrate the houses close to the main intersection in the village, and the occupants are unable to escape.

Also, the restrictions on movement in the area every Friday create difficulties for residents of all the nearby villages.

In advance of the expected declaration of a Palestinian state on 20 September 2011, Israel’s defense establishment is preparing to cope with wide-scale demonstrations in the West Bank. As part of the preparations, the security forces must recognize Palestinians’ right to demonstrate, and must allow them to protest against infringement of their rights. The decision to disperse a demonstration must be made only after the relevant authorities have properly balanced the right to demonstrate against other relevant interests, as is done in the case of demonstrations held inside Israel. In any event, means for dispersing demonstrations must not be used in a way that injures persons or punishes all residents of the village.

Maan News: Nabi Saleh rally holds mock funeral for Oslo Accords

by Maan News:  Friday 09/09/2011 

 
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RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah held a mock funeral for the Oslo Accords as part of its weekly demonstration on Friday, a Ma’an correspondent said.

Demonstrations began after Friday prayers as protesters chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation and a likely US veto of the UN bid.

Participants waved flags with the logo of “The state of Palestine 194” as they marched through the village carrying a black coffin with the words “Oslo Accords” written on it.

The protesters were met by Israeli forces who fired tear gas and sound grenades at the rally.

The activities were organized as part of the upcoming anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords on Sept. 13 1993, a statement from the popular resistance movement said.

Israel has killed the accords, it added, saying that they were now just “ink on paper.”

The movement called on the international community to support the Palestinian people and back the UN bid for statehood.

Under the 1995 Oslo 2 agreement, following on from the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators outlined a plan for Palestinian autonomy allowing the Palestinian Authority administrative and security control of around 17.2 percent of the West Bank, Area A.

The rest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip remained under Israeli military occupation.

The interim deal was intended to lead to a final status agreement by 1999, but a permanent solution was never reached and frequent incursions by the Israeli army into Area A have undermined the agreement.

Nabi Saleh protestors announce the death of the Oslo Accords

by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 9 Sept 2011

Soldiers tried to disperse the demonstration and prevent protesters from reaching their lands using tear-gas. A 14 year-old was detained and three were lightly injured.

Protesters in Nabi Saleh carried a mock coffin today, to symbolize the long due burial of the Oslo Accords. As the march headed in the direction of the village’s spring, a symbolic funeral was held on the hill overlooking the settlement.

As protesters tried to march down to the contested spring, which settlers are actively trying to take over, soldiers began shooting tear-gas to stop their advance. As the army moved closer and closer towards the village’s built up area, clashes ensued.

Escaping the noxious clouds of tear-gas that spread all over the hill, demonstrators regrouped at the center of the village, and started walking down the main road towards the military tower at the entrance to the village. When a group of youth flew a Palestinian flag from atop the military gate at the entrance to the village, large forces of Border Police staged an incursion into the village, once more shooting large amounts of tear-gas and forcing the demonstrators to retreat.

At around 5:30 PM, as clashes have already moved back to the hill west of the village, a 14 year-old boy was detained at the entrance to his house. He was rushed inside an armored military vehicle and kept inside it for hours. In the hours to follow, the same vehicle, as well as a few others, drove in and out of the village provocatively, with no obvious goal. Barricades were built on the main road where people stayed even past nightfall.

At 10:30 PM, the 14 year-old was released without even being questioned. He reports having been beaten up by the Border Police officers who detained him and inside the jeep.

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Sunday Hearing in Bassem Tamimi’s trial cancelled by Military Prosecution

By Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 08 September 2011

The Israeli Military Prosecution has canceled the hearing in the case of West Bank protest organizer, Bassem Tamimi, that was scheduled for Sunday.

The Military Prosecution announced today that the hearing in Bassem Tamimi’s trial scheduled for coming Sunday will be canceled due to the prosecutor’s inability to attend. Tamimi is imprisoned since late March this year, but no witnesses has yet been heard by the court.

Tamimi’s wife, Nariman said, “My husband is rotting in their jail for nearly half a year because he dared organizing peaceful protest against the theft of our lands, but not one shred of evidence has yet been heard by the judge. But their vindictiveness won’t stop us – we will continue demanding our freedom and our rights”.

Tamimi’s next hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, September 21st.

West Bank Protest Organiser, Bassem Tamimi, in court on Sunday

By Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 07 September 2011

Photo by Oren Ziv - Activestills

Due to technical delays last week, the session on Sunday will see prosecution witnesses take the stand for the first time. Among them the main witness, 14 year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub, who incriminated Tamimi after being unlawfully interrogated.

When: Sunday, September 11th, 2011 at 1:30 PM
Where: Ofer Military Court*
* Entry to the military court must be coordinated with the Israeli army’s spokesperson’s office in advance.

After telling the judge that he does not recognize the legitimacy of the court and of military law during his arraignment on June 5th, Bassem Tamimi’s trial is expected to open this coming Sunday, when prosecution witnesses will take the stand for the first time. On June 14th, the EU has expressed its concern over Tamimi’s incarceration in a statement given during the 17th session of the UN’s Human Rights Council.

Tamimi is incarcerated since late march and the coming hearing, after more than 5 months of imprisonment, is the first in which the allegations will actually be discussed in court. Proceedings in the case have been prolonged after prosecution witnesses did not bother to show up to a previous hearing on June 27th.

Among those scheduled to testify on Sunday is 14 year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub, also from Nabi Saleh, who was taken from his bed at gunpoint on the night of January 23rd. In his interrogation the morning after his arrest, Islam alleged that Bassem and Naji Tamimi organized groups of youth into “brigades”, charged with different responsibilities during the demonstrations: some were allegedly in charge of stone-throwing, others of blocking roads, etc.

During a trial-within-a-trial procedure in Islam’s trial, motioning for his testimony to be ruled inadmissible, it was proven that his interrogation was fundamentally flawed and violated the rights set forth in the Israeli Youth Law in the following ways:

  1. Despite being a minor, he was questioned in the morning following his arrest, having been denied sleep.

  2. He was denied legal counsel, although his lawyer appeared at the police station requesting to see him.

  3. He was denied his right to have a parent present during his questioning.

  4. He was not informed of his right to remain silent, and was even told by his interrogators that he is “expected to tell the truth”.

  5. Only one of four interrogators present was a qualified youth interrogator.

Continue reading “West Bank Protest Organiser, Bassem Tamimi, in court on Sunday”

Nabi Saleh demonstration: “The People Wants the End of Oslo

By Anarchists Against the Wall: 2 August 2011

Some 60 Nabi Saleh residents and their international and Israeli supporters held on Friday (2 Sept) the first weekly demonstration after Ramadan, demanding an end to the occupation and to the Oslo accords and peace processes that sustain it.

The procession was able to reach outside of the village’s built area and onto the hill that overlooks the village’s spring, which is, along with the surrounding village’s lands, threatened by settlers’ annexation. Typically, at the time of the demo, these lands were foreclosed by the Israeli army and border police which began shooting tear gas from below and above the descending protesters. While the Israeli soldiers and police forces avoided for the most part from entering the village’s built area, they did encircle that area and did not cease their habit of firing tear gas into that area, on and around houses, putting the village’s population under attack and not allowing for peaceful demonstrating to take place. These measures were sure followed by clashes between the Israeli forces and unarmed civilians throwing stones in an attempt to ward off the military incursion.

At a certain point the Israeli forces started shooting live ammunition above the heads of civilians. A few people were hit and injured by the many tear gas canisters shot during the long hours of a sunny day.

Video by Israel Puterman

Video by Tamimi Press