Nabi Saleh marks 38th anniversary of Land Day

Report and photographs by Haim Schwarcenzberg: 28 March 2014

Aptly called “Friday of the Land,” This week’s demonstration in Nabi Saleh commemorated Land Day, recalling 6 Palestinians killed by Israeli police in army while protesting land expropriation in the Galilee in 1976. Villagers accompanies by Israeli and international activists, including a Brazilian delegation, marched towards the al-Qaws spring, which was expropriated for the use of the nearby settlement of Halamish. Marchers reiterated Palestinians’ right to live on their lands.

The IOF attempted to disperse the marchers using tear gas and stun grenades. No major injuries reported.

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Illegal Israeli Settlers and Israeli Occupation Forces expand Halamish colony on Nabi Saleh land

Witnesses: Settlers, forces expand Halamish settlement

by Maan News: 24 January 2013

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Jewish settlers, accompanied by Israeli forces, on Tuesday began work expanding Halamish settlement in the central West Bank, witnesses said.

Settlers and Israeli forces arrived at dawn with trucks and bulldozers and set up 50 mobile homes on land belonging to Nabi Saleh, a village near Ramallah, witnesses told Ma’an.

Nabi Saleh is a center of popular resistance in the West Bank, and holds weekly demonstrations against the confiscation of its land and the takeover of its natural spring.

Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are illegal under international law.

Unarmed Palestinian demonstrations in Bil’in, Ni’lin and Qaddoum met with severe military repression by Israel

by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 27 July 2012

In the villages of Bil’in, Ni’ilin and Kufr Qaddoum, hundreds continue to protest land annexation and settlement expansion.

Tear-gas canister shot in Kufr Qaddoum: Picture Credit: Jaffar Ashtiyeh

Demonstration in Qaddoum. Picture Credit: Jaffar Ashtiyeh

In the early afternoon hours of the second Friday of the Ramadan, some several dozen protesters gathered in Bil’in for the weekly demonstration against the Wall and settlements. The protesters – Bil’iners, Israeli activists and international supporters – made their way towards the separation wall where the army was already based. Upon reaching Abu Lamon grove near the Western stretch of the Wall, protesters were met by volleys of tear-gas canisters, as well as shock grenades and the “skunk” – a water cannon spraying foul-smelling liquid. Since the wind was blowing in the direction of the soldiers, protesters were able to make their way to the Wall and cross the first fence surrounding it. After some clashes the demonstration dispersed. No arrests or injuries were reported.

A similar demonstration took place in the neighboring village of Ni’ilin, where a few dozen protesters marched towards the concrete Wall built on the village’s olive groves. The army shot tear-gas and used the skunk to disperse the crowd. Qaddoum: Picture Credit: Jaffar Ashtiyeh

Demonstration in Qaddoum. Picture Credit: Jaffar Ashtiyeh

In the northern West Bank, at the village of Kufur Qadduom, some 200 villagers accompanied by international supporters were attacked with tear gas as soon as they reached the road block isolating the village form the surrounding villages and towns. The army used outstanding amounts of tear-gas, as well as the skunk and proceeded into the populated areas of the village. No Severe injuries were reported.

Palestinian’s Trial Shines Light on Military [In]Justice

Photo by Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times: Islam Dar Ayyoub was taken from his home, then pressed to inform on his relatives, neighbors and friends. His brother Omar, in the picture above, is in prison.

By ISABEL KERSHNER: New York Times: February 18, 2012

NABI SALEH, West Bank — A year ago, Islam Dar Ayyoub was a sociable ninth grader and a good student, according to his father, Saleh, a Palestinian laborer in this small village near Ramallah.

Then, one night in January 2011, about 20 Israeli soldiers surrounded the dilapidated Dar Ayyoub home and pounded vigorously on the door. Islam, who was 14 at the time, said he thought they had come for his older brother. Instead, they had come for him. He was blindfolded, handcuffed and whisked away in a jeep.

From that moment, Islam’s childhood was over. Catapulted into the Israeli military justice system, an arm of Israel’s 44-year-old occupation of the West Bank, Islam became embroiled in a legal process as challenging and perplexing as the world in which he has grown up. The young man was interrogated and pressed to inform on his relatives, neighbors and friends.

The military justice system that overwhelmed Islam has come under increasing scrutiny for its often harsh, unforgiving methods. One Palestinian prisoner has been hospitalized because of a hunger strike in protest against being detained for months without trial. Human rights organizations have recently focused their criticism on the treatment of Palestinian minors, like Islam.

Now, as a grass-roots leader from Nabi Saleh stands trial, having been incriminated by Islam, troubling questions are being raised about these methods of the occupation.

It is the intimate nature of Islam’s predicament that makes this trial especially wrenching for the young man, his family and his community. Most of Nabi Saleh’s 500 residents belong to the same extended family. The leader on trial, Bassem Tamimi, 44, was Islam’s next-door neighbor. Islam was close friends with Mr. Tamimi’s son, Waed, a classmate. And Mr. Tamimi’s wife is a cousin of Islam’s mother.

Photo by: Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times Bassem Tamimi, above right, with his lawyer, was informed on by his teenage neighbor. Now on trial, he denies having told anyone to throw stones.

“This case is legally flawed and morally tainted,” said Gaby Lasky, Islam’s Israeli lawyer. Islam is traumatized, she said, “not only because of what happened to him, but also what happened to others.”

After he was pulled from his home at night, Islam was taken to a nearby army base where, his lawyer said, he was left out in the cold for hours. In the morning, he was taken to the Israeli police for interrogation. Accused of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers inside the village, he was encouraged to identify other youths and the adult organizers of weekly protests here.

In a police videotape of Islam’s five-hour interrogation, the teenager is at times visibly exhausted. Alone and denied access to a lawyer for most of the period, he was partially cautioned three times about his rights but was never told directly that he had the right to remain silent.

Instead, the chief interrogator instructed him, “We want only the truth. You must tell everything that happened.”

The young man, who seemed eager to please his interrogators, described how village youths were organized into nine “brigades,” each assigned tasks like throwing stones, blocking roads and hurling unexploded tear-gas canisters back at the soldiers.

Soon, the arrests followed.

Mr. Tamimi was taken last March and is being held at the Ofer military prison. The charges against him include organizing unauthorized processions, solicitation to stone throwing and incitement to violence. Mr. Tamimi has proudly acknowledged that he organized what he called peaceful protests but denied ever having told anyone to throw stones.

Mr. Tamimi’s wife, Nariman, attended a recent court hearing with Waed.

Asked about Islam, her voice softened. “He is our neighbor,” she said. “The interrogation was very difficult. He was afraid. He is just a child.”

Another organizer that Islam identified for the authorities, Naji Tamimi, 49, spent a year in jail and is about to be released.

Islam also informed on Mu’tasim Khalil Tamimi, who was then 15, identifying him as a youth ringleader. Mu’tasim subsequently spent six months in jail; he, too, identified organizers of the protests.

Bassem Tamimi’s lawyer, Labib Habib, said that the testimony of the two minors formed “the essence of the case” against his client. The defense lawyers contend that the terms of the minors’ arrests and interrogations violated their rights, and that their testimony should be dismissed.

But an official in the office of Israel’s Military Advocate General, who was authorized to speak on the condition of anonymity, said the Nabi Saleh case was “a classic one of orchestrated riots that exploit children.”

The official denied that the case against Mr. Tamimi rested largely on Islam’s testimony, saying there were other witnesses.

Under the Israeli youth law, Islam’s treatment would be deemed illegal. Minors are generally allowed to have a parent or other relative present during interrogation, and there are strict rules about nighttime interrogations and other protections.

Most of these protections do not exist in the military system, though military appellate court judges have stated that the spirit of the youth law should apply whenever possible to Palestinians.

After Israel conquered the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war, it established military courts independent of the army command. They draw on Jordanian law, on the laws from the period of British rule and on a plethora of military orders issued over the past four decades.

The Israeli official said that the military was striving to close gaps between the two systems, but that the Israeli youth law could not be put into full effect in the West Bank because of the difficult conditions. Israel recently raised the age of majority for Palestinians to 18 from 16, and it established the juvenile military court in 2009. But nighttime military operations were the only way to arrest Palestinian suspects, the official said, because summonses were routinely ignored and daytime arrests could set off confrontations.

Islam’s arrest came as part of a crackdown in Nabi Saleh. A few nights earlier, soldiers had raided the Dar Ayyoub home and other houses, photographing and taking details of all the men and boys. Days after Islam was taken, his younger brother, Karim, then 11, was seized by soldiers and held for hours at a police station on suspicion of throwing stones. Last month, during pretrial proceedings in the case against Islam, a juvenile military court judge acknowledged serious flaws in the interrogation but ruled his testimony admissible.

Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, said that the youth judge could have taken a stand but had “failed this particular minor, and all the others.”

Islam spent two and a half months in prison before he was released to house arrest. Since September, he has been allowed out to go to school, which he now loathes. His father says he stays awake all night watching television, fearing that the soldiers will return.

In an interview at his home this month, Islam said he knew his rights, having once attended a workshop on interrogations in the village. But he said that he was told by an officer beforehand that rights would not help him. “I thought that if I spoke, they would release me,” he said.

Most of the villagers have shown understanding. Sometimes friends stop by for an hour or two. Waed is not among them.