Eight People Arrested in Weekly Nabi Saleh Demonstration

The demonstrations against the Occupation in Nabi Saleh which have been taking place for over one year despite serious military repression have experienced major setbacks in recent months. The two leaders of the community, Bassem and Naji Tamimi, have both been arrested by Israeli soldiers along with 12 percent of the total population of the village. The demonstration yesterday saw eight people arrested among reckless and violent Israeli army behaviour.  

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Demonstration in Nabi Saleh Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
Demonstration in Nabi Saleh Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
Friday's demonstration was joined by a solidarity group of March 15ths activists and was larger than usual. The March 15th movement- which has largely been calling for unity and an end to division within Palestinian civil and political society on the model of the Egyptian revolution- has stayed largely in cities. Solidarity with village protests like the one in Nabi Saleh is a move towards greater unity and cooperation within Palestinian society against Israeli occupation. Roughly, 80 people marched through Nabi Saleh's main street and then crossed into the village's agricultural fields to reach a spring which has been stolen by settlers from the neighbouring Jewish-only settlement of Halamish. Israeli soldiers waited for the demonstrators at the end of the main road in the village. Before any stones were thrown by young Palestinian demonstrators, Israeli soldiers attacked the demonstration with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades. This, however, did not deter the protesters, who kept standing in front of the soldiers in defiance. The soldiers than turned to violently arresting two Palestinian protesters and attempting to arrest a third one.

After the soldiers left the fields with the arrested, protesters regathered and managed to cross the main road and into the hill that overlooks the village's spring. The army was slow to respond but when it did, tear gas projectiles were used as large bullets and shot directly at unarmed demonstrators throughout the village. More army units took over various roofs and other building in the village as the Israeli army took over full control of Nabi Saleh. As the process was unfolding, four Palestinians from Nabi Saleh that were not connected to the demonstration were arrested by units of Israeli soldiers on foot in the area.

When the bulk of the demonstration reached the village's city centre, two Israeli supporters were arrested by soldiers for violating a 'closed military zone' which the army had announced but did not inform anyone of. An additional Israeli was detained but only briefly because he was holding an Israeli press card.

Of the six Palestinians arrested in the course of the demonstration, three were released during the evening. The whereabouts of the other three are unknown but given the pattern of army behaviour towards Palestinians who nonviolently resist Israeli occupation, they are mostly likely at the Ofer military compound. While the two arrested Israelis will be released this evening, the Palestinians could face months in the Ofer military prison where they will be subjected to a harsh military legal system, specifically designed for prolonged Kafkaesque imprisonment of Palestinians without a viable trial.