View from Jerusalem by Harriet Sherwood: The Guardian, 28 Sept 2011
Youngsters in West Bank village were forced out of bed for Israeli military ‘mapping’ exercise
Balil Tamimi, whose children were woken past midnight to be photographed by Israeli soldiers Photograph: Harriet Sherwood/guardian.co.uk
I went to Nabi Saleh earlier this week, a West Bank village which has been the scene of weekly protests over a nearby spring for almost two years.
It’s a small village of around 550 residents and the spring is located on land that the Palestinians say is privately owned. But settlers from Halamish, across the valley, began construction work in 2008 to turn the spring into a picnic site and leisure attraction for Jews only.
The villagers’ weekly demonstrations which followed have become an established part of the popular protest movement in the West Bank, which is largely non-violent – or at least starts out that way.
The Israeli army nearly always intervenes in these protests, usually by using crowd-dispersal equipment including tear gas, stun grenades, foul-smelling water canon, rubber bullets and sometimes live bullets.
(I was in Qusra, another village, last Friday shortly before a Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli soldiers. A small group of settlers, maybe 15, had come down the hill with Israeli flags, and scores of men and youths from Qusra rushed to prevent them entering the village following earlier attacks including the vandalising of a mosque. The Israeli military, which was on the scene within minutes, began firing tear gas almost immediately – before any stone-throwing began. I left quite soon after, having been momentarily blinded by the gas, and did not witness subsequent events. An IDF statement later that day spoke of “a violent riot, during which Palestinians hurled rocks at security personnel. During the riot, security personnel used riot dispersal means and eventually, live fire.” But, as I witnessed, the “riot dispersal” began before the “riot”.)
The Nabi Saleh protests have been reported extensively. But a conversation I had with one of the villagers highlighted a practice of which I was previously unaware.
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