By Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 15 June 2012
Dr. Layla Ghannam, the Governor of Ramallah and Al-Bireh and the first female Governor in Palestine joined the protest in the small hilltop village. 15 protesters were injured as the army violently dispersed the peaceful march.
Photo: Volleys of tear-gas shot during Nabi Saleh demo. In the background, the settlement of Halamish
With popular protest throughout Palestine gaining momentum, especially concerning the pressing matter of political prisoners, villages like Nabi Saleh serve as a symbol of resilience and persistence. Public representatives and journalists from all major Palestinian media outlets came to the village today to join and witness the weekly demonstration, most notably Dr. Layla Ghannam, the Governor of Ramallah and Al-Bireh and the first female Governor in Palestine.The demonstration started from the center of the village shortly after the Friday prayer. Protesters marched towards the main road of the village, only to be met with extensive shooting of tear-gas canisters and rubber coated steel bullets. Fifteen protesters were injured during this unwarranted assault and most of them were treated in the field. Clashes maintained for a few hours, following which the army retreated. No arrests were reported.
Background: Nabi Saleh is a small village of approximately 550 people, twenty kilometres north west of Ramallah in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli colony of Halamish (also known as Neveh Tzuf ) was established on lands belonging to the villages of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham in 1976. In response to the illegal colony being established on their land, the residents of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham began holding demonstrations in opposition to the stealing of their land and the establishment of the colony (whose establishment violates international law). The residents of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham lodged a court case against the colony in Israel’s high court, but were unable to stop the construction the illegal settlement.
Since its establishment in 1977, Halamish colony has continued to expand and steal more Palestinian land. In 2008, the residents of An Nabi Saleh challenged the building of a fence by the colony on private Palestinian land and which prevented Palestinians from accessing their land. The Israeli courts ruled that the fence was to be dismantled Despite the Israeli court ruling, the colony continued to illegally annex more Palestinian land. In the summer of 2008, the Israeli colonists from Halamish seized control of a number springs, all of which were located on private Palestinian land belonging to residents of An Nabi Saleh. In December 2009, the village began weekly non-violent demonstrations in opposition to the illegal Israeli colony of Halamish annexing of the fresh water springs and stealing of more of the village’s land. Since An Nabi Saleh began its demonstrations, the Israeli military has brutally sought to repress the non-violent protests, arresting more than 13% of the village, including children. In total, as of 31 March 2011, 64 village residents have been arrested. All but three were tried for participating in the non-violent demonstrations. Of those imprisoned, 29 have been minors under the age of 18 years and 4 have been women.