Friday, July 18, 2014

Nabi Saleh

Nabi Saeh is a Palestinian village, located 20 kilometres northwest of Ramallah. Like several other Palestinian villages, every Friday there is a demonstration held there against the Israeli Defence Forces and settlers.

Nabi Saleh is close to a settlement called Halima, and driving into it, you can also see a massive military guard tower.

According to Bassem Tamimi, a prominent Palestinian activist in the village, the settlers from Hamila make life as difficult as possible for the people of Nabi Saleh. Settlers often attack people in the village, coming in to set crops on fire, attack farmers, beat up schoolkids. Rocks are thrown from the settlement at Palestinian cars on the road, many drive into the village with dents.

The Israeli military provides support to the settlers, not the villagers.

In 2009, settlers from Halima took over a natural water spring that belonged to one of the village's members, and prevented Palestinians from farming their own land. The date was also close to an anniversary of the first intifada.

The people of Nabi Saleh began coming out for daily confrontations with the soldiers, who defend the settlers who tyrannize them. Often in these demonstrations, some of the youth throw stones at the soldiers. The soldiers attack non-violent and rock throwing Palestinian protesters alike with teargas, sound bombs, and rubber coated steel bullets.

Bassem Tamimi says that the demonstrations- which include rock throwing from some- are a middle ground for Palestinians- between turning to armed resistance and allowing the Israeli Army and settlers to walk over them. Women are also welcome to come to the demonstrations and play an active role. Bassem says that rock throwing is not a violent act, since the targets are heavily armed soldiers. Or, in other words, "the violence of the stone is nothing compared to the violence of the soldiers". He describes the protests as a way for many of his people to relieve the pressure they are under.

The demonstrations take place on a daily basis, and many non-Palestinians attend them. In addition to internationals, there are also many Israelis who come to the village. They don't throw rocks, but stand in solidarity with the villagers. Bassem has many Israeli activist friends, and often hosts them with his family, in their house.

As a Christian, I don't agree that rock throwing is a non-violent action, and would not engage in it or encourage others to. I do not condone it. I believe, as Jesus said, that enemies are to be loved, even in circumstances that are, or seem, impossible.

On the other hand, I also would not condemn those who respond this way to an intensive and ongoing oppression and harassment, that is decades old and not going away. Stone throwing seems like a very small response to the constant land grabs, harassment, beatings, raids, and abuse they and many other Palestinians in the West Bank are being subjected to. Also, in comparison to the clouds of teargas and bullets ("rubber" as well as live ammunition) that are and have been fired at Palestinians- both those throwing rocks and those not doing so- the stones, while not harmless, are far of a smaller proportion,

A picture of the village

Another picture of Nabi Saleh

Bassem Tamimi

Olives growing on a tree. Often these are set on fire by settlers who invade the village

The settlement of Halima, as can be seen from Bassem Tamimi's house
Military guard tower, another thing Bassem and his family wake up to see every morning

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