The organizer of Ni'ilin's Popular Committee against the Separation wall and two other members were released from military prison yesterday after serving jail sentences in Israeli military courts for organizing unarmed resistance to Israel's separation wall. The men, Ibrahim Amireh, Hassan Mousa and Zaydoon Srour, had been sentenced to eleven months in Israeli military prison on draconian charges aimed at crushing non-violent protest in the West Bank. The charges included participation in an illegal demonstration, presence in a closed Israeli military zone, incitement of violence, harming the public good, and paying teenagers to throw stones at Israeli soldiers during demonstrations. Ni'ilin held a celebration in the honor of the Popular Committee members upon their arrival home. Throughout the streets of the village, children ran with flags and blow horns to signal the excitement of having the leaders home safely.
The incarceration of Popular Committee members is part of a broader Israeli strategy of repressing the popular struggle and crushing all aspects of non-violent resistance to Israel's occupation and separation wall. Coupled with negligent use of violence in demonstrations and mass arrests, Israel has used the incarceration of popular struggle leaders as a tool for stopping demonstrations in Bil'in, Nabi Saleh and Beit Ummar. However, the strategy has largely failed as the demonstrations continue on a weekly basis.
Israel began construction of the Wall on Ni'ilin's land in 2004, but stopped after an injunction order was issued by the Israeli Supreme Court (ISC). Despite this previous order and the 2004 ruling from the International Court of Justice declaring the Wall illegal, construction of the Wall began again in May 2008. Following the return of Israeli bulldozers to their lands, residents of Ni'ilin have launched a grassroots campaign to protest the massive land theft, including demonstrations, strikes and direct actions.
As a result of the construction of the Wall, Ni’ilin has lost 3,920 dunams, roughly 30% of its remaining lands. Originally, Ni’ilin consisted of 15,898 dunams (3928 acres). Post 1948, Ni’ilin was left with 14,794 dunams (3656 acres). After the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, the illegal settlements and infrastructure of Modi'in Ilit, Mattityahu and Hashmonaim were built on village lands, and Ni'ilin lost another 1,973 dunams. With the completion of the Wall, Ni’lin has a remaining 8911 dunams (2201 acres), 56% of it’s original size
Since 2008, Ni'ilin has seen violent repression of its unarmed demonstration against the Israeli separation wall. Five demonstrators have been killed and one American solidarity activist has been critically injured in anti-Wall demonstrations. Of the five killed, two were under the age of eighteen including one ten year old child.