Nabi Saleh legal victory: Israeli High Court tell illegal settlers to remove illegal structures from spring

Settlers removing illegal structures near Nabi Saleh

By YONAH JEREMY BOB Jerusalem Post: 06 Jan 2013

State tells High Court that settlers begin removing recreational structures near disputed Nabi Salih well.

Spring near West Bank village of Nabi Saleh

Spring near West Bank village of Nabi Saleh Photo: REUTERS
Settlers have begun removing illegally built recreational structures near the disputed Ein al-Kis well in the Nabi Salih area, the state informed the High Court of Justice during a hearing on Thursday.The state said it would provide a progress update on the removal of the structures within 30 days.The hearing was one in a series involving a June 2011 petition against the well, filed by Yesh Din on behalf of the villagers of Nabi Salih and Deir Nidam, for removal of the recreational area that residents of the Halamish settlement built nearby. An earlier petition against the well was also filed by Yesh Din in December 2010.According to Yesh Din, the controversy started about three years ago, when Jewish settlers from the West Bank settlement of Halamish attempted to take over the well by turning it into a tourist and recreational site and by building illegal structures around it.

Yesh Din said that recently a new pool was excavated near the well, whose walls were lined with concrete, ignoring the impact on any potential archeological finds.

In the first petition, Yesh Din said the land was private Palestinian land and the new recreational facilities were an attempted land-grab, preventing Palestinians from accessing their land.

Following Yesh Din’s filing of the first petition, the settlers and the state responded by having the site declared an archeological site in March 2011.

According to Yesh Din, the March 2011 response by the state also recognized an obligation to guard the status quo on the land, to comply with Israel’s obligation under international law to preserve historical sites.

That announcement led Yesh Din to withdraw its first petition, under the rationale that the declaration of the area as a historical site meant an end to the illegal building.

But Yesh Din eventually filed the current petition saying that the settlers were building again, harming the archeological site and violating their earlier commitment with their recreational construction.

Besides the case before the High Court, the controversy has led to weekly demonstrations by the Nabi Salih villagers, frequent altercations between the villagers and the IDF, and even some deadly incidents.

Eventually, the IDF started to prevent Palestinian villagers from approaching the well, as well as a newly created security zone near the well.

In November 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, Rushdi Tamimi was killed while the IDF was trying to do crowd control of an anti-war demonstration.

The Tamimi family is one of the most important in the village, and includes protest leader Bassem Tamimi, who has been arrested repeatedly by Israel, and Mustafa Tamimi, who died after being hit in the face by a tear gas canister while chasing an IDF jeep during a protest in December 2011.

At an earlier hearing on September 5, 2012, the court issued an interim order prohibiting the Halamish settlers from doing any additional building in the area of the well.

Recently, the settlers filed a formal request to build recreational structures around the well, but the request was denied.

According to Yesh Din, the state itself said in hearings related to the current petition that the settlers had failed to prove that they owned the land where they wished to build.

It also said that the land was outside the designated area for building relating to the Halamish settlement.

Yesh Din attorney Shlomi Zachariah praised the state for starting to enforce the law “regarding the illegally built structures” that were pushing more “Palestinians off their land.”

Zachariah criticized the state for what he called the delay in enforcement, but added it was “better late than never.”

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this article.

Israeli Soldiers Wound Five in Nabi Saleh Protest (4 Jan 2013)

by WAFA: 5 January, 2013

RAMALLAH, January 5, 2013 (WAFA) – Five protestors were injured Friday and three arrested when Israeli soldiers suppressed a non-violent demonstration in the Ramallah-area village of Nabi Saleh, said local sources.

Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah, has been witnessing weekly peaceful demonstrations against Israeli settlements and takeover of village land and water.

Five people, including a photojournalist, were wounded when soldiers fired rubber bullets at them from a close range while dozens others suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Three were arrested, said the sources, including a member of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

The Israeli army had declared Nabi Saleh a closed military zone in the morning and sealed the village off to prevent movement of people and medical teams.

M.S.

IOF arrest 2 Palestinian men, 1 Palestinian child and 2 Israeli activists; spray “skunk” at houses (4 Jan 2012)

4 January 2013

video by Sam4Palestine

video by Sam4Palestine

Israeli Occupation Forces arrest Othman Bazzar from Ramallah. He was beaten and fainted. A Palestinian ambulance workers were able to eventually treat him. According to a report from an Israeli activist who was arrested at the same time, he was unconscious and the ambulance workers were not able to rouse him. He was then apparently taken to hospital (not sure where). Also arrested were two other Israeli activists and a 15 year old child from Beit Rima (next to Nabi Saleh) and another man from Beit Rima.

Hilmy, one of the photographers for Tamimi Press was also shot at close range with two rubber coated steel bullets. Will update once again, when we have more information on Othman and the other arrests.  The IOF also sprayed “skunk” deliberately at Palestinian homes in order to try and intimidate village residents.

Al Jazeera: Israeli army accused of being trigger-happy (includes interview with Manal Tamimi)

Palestinians report increased use of live rounds after Israeli politicians called for greater force to quell protests.

Renee Lewis: Al Jazeera: 23 Dec 2012

An Israeli soldier readies a weapon during recent clashes with Palestinians in the West Bank town of Hebron [AFP]
Israeli soldiers chase down protesters in a West Bank village and run straight into a barrage of rocks thrown by cheering Palestinians. The soldiers are forced to make a hasty retreat, all the while being pelted by stones.Amateur video footage showing the incident earlier this month in the village of Kufr Qaddoum has prompted high-level Israeli politicians and military officials to call for wider use of live ammunition to quell such demonstrations in the occupied territories.During a recent meeting of Israel’s Ministerial Council, Eli Yishai, Israel’s interior minister, and Shaul Mofaz, the head of the Kadima opposition party, both demanded that soldiers be allowed to use maximum force against threats from Palestinians – including live ammunition.”A soldier operating in the field has the option to make the appropriate decision after evaluating the situation and the amount of danger he and his colleagues are facing, and that based on his personal evaluation, he can resort to the use of live ammunition,” a senior Israeli military commander in the West Bank was quoted by Israel TV’s Channel 7 as saying.

When asked about the use of deadly force, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman told Al Jazeera in an e-mail: “The rules of engagement have not changed.”

IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war.– ‘The Spirit of the IDF’

Morad Shtiwi, the coordinator of weekly non-violent protests in Kufr Qaddoum, the village where the video of escaping Israeli soldiers was filmed, says the protest took place on December 7, shortly after the latest Israeli attack on Gaza.

Shtiwi says that Israeli politicians were embarrassed by the incident, and demanded soldiers be given permission to shoot live ammunition rather than run away.

“After this, we heard that the soldiers want to use live ammunition … so for the next week’s demonstration we were very careful. We invited a lot of people – internationals, Israeli activists and the media – because we knew the Israeli soldiers would be angry,” Shtiwi explains.

Another Israeli spokesman said regardless of statements made about the use of live ammunition, soldiers are obligated to follow an ethical code known as “The Spirit of the IDF“.

“IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property,” it reads.

But Abir Kopty, a member of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, says shooting at Palestinians with live ammunition is nothing new. “According to Israeli military law, every protest in the West Bank is considered illegal and it allows them to use what they call ‘dispersal means’ – this ranges from tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets to live ammunition.”

Shooting in Hebron

Less than a week after Israeli politicians called for wider use of live ammunition, a teenager celebrating his 17th birthday, Muhammed Salaymah was gunned down at a checkpoint by Israeli police in the Old City of Hebron in the West Bank.

Security video of the incident posted by the Israeli daily Haaretz allegedly shows Salaymah attacking soldiers at the checkpoint before he is shot.

“They shot him directly with live ammunition. Usually they don’t do this,” says Issa Amro, a human rights coordinator in Hebron.

Amro says that recently he and other Hebron residents have noticed an increase in the use of live ammunition against demonstrators.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Israeli settlers began taking over buildings in the centre of Hebron’s Old City. The settlements were accompanied by dozens of Israeli checkpoints stationed in the winding alleyways, as well as Israeli military and police forces on the ground and on rooftops.

Palestinians carry Muhammed Salaymeh’s body [Reuters]

Conflict between Israeli settlers, the Israeli military and Palestinian residents has been endemic since the settlers’ arrival.

Despite this, Amro says residents in Hebron are not used to regularly hearing live ammunition being fired. Since Israeli politicians began talking about giving soldiers more freedom to use live bullets, they say they now hear it almost on a daily basis.

“After the killing of Salaymah, it was obvious they were shooting more live ammunition. They shot another teenage boy with three bullets while he was protesting the killing,” Amro says.

“I see the soldiers being more violent, more aggressive towards the Palestinians – women, children, normal people – not only shooting live bullets but in the everyday treatment of the people.”

He described how a journalist he knows was covering the protests following Salaymah’s death when he was attacked by Israeli soldiers. The journalist was forced to take off his clothes as the soldiers beat him to the ground, pointed a gun in his face and told him they were going to shoot him – then shot in the air. Two journalists from Reuters were given the same treatment.

“The Israeli soldiers are working against any voice who wants to speak out against the violence and the occupation in the West Bank,” Amro says.

Kopty says in addition to the killing of Salaymah in Hebron, two other protesters were killed during West Bank protests against the war in Gaza: Hamdi Falah from Hebron and Rushdi Tamimi from Nabi Salah.

“About 10 more protesters suffered injuries from live ammunition in addition to dozens of injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters shot directly at protesters,” Kopty tells Al Jazeera.

Using live ammunition

In another West Bank village that organises weekly, nonviolent protests, Manal Tamimi – a member of the resistance movement – also says she has seen an increase in the use of live ammunition recently.

“Since the Gaza war they began to use more live bullets than ever … and after the protest in Kufr Qaddoum [an Israeli military official] said these soldiers’ lives are in danger and they have to protect themselves. He gave the order to Israeli soldiers to use live ammunition,” Tamimi says.

Just two days before the war in Gaza ended, her 30-year-old cousin Rushdi Tamimi was shot at a protest with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and died of his wounds two days later, says Tamimi.

“Like Muhammed Salaymah in Hebron, my cousin didn’t do anything to the soldiers … he didn’t cause any threat to the soldiers’ lives,” Tamimi says.

“They didn’t manage to destroy Gaza and get out all of their aggression, so they are taking it out on the West Bank people.–  Issa Amro, human rights coordinator

“He couldn’t escape because of the injury … One soldier ran towards him and shouted at him. Then when he was very close, he shot Rushdi again in the torso with live ammunition at point blank,” Tamimi says. A video posted to YouTube purports to show the shooting.

“He screamed, then the soldier hit him in the head with his gun, and he was bleeding from his head. He died later in the hospital.”

Manal Tamimi says Israeli soldiers have been shooting live ammunition almost from the beginning of the protests – whereas before they fired teargas and rubber-coated steel bullets before resorting to live ammunition.

Since the end of the last Palestinian revolt, live ammunition has not frequently been used at protests.

Amro says he believes Israeli politicians are creating an environment of hatred and vengefulness against Palestinians, and this is spurring the soldiers to shoot more live rounds.

“They didn’t manage to destroy Gaza and get out all of their aggression, so they are taking it out on the West Bank people,” Amro says. “They want to teach the Palestinians a lesson that they are not free … They don’t want us to have freedom of expression – we have nothing now.”