On Saturday 12th of April, the IOF imposed a blockade on the village after declaring it a ‘closed military area’. All the main entrances were closed and anyone who attempted to enter or leave the village was attacked regardless the threat they represented. Just before the siege, Sarak, the military unit now in service and known for its ruthlessness, announced its will to “impose law and order by suppressing any form of terrorism”. A senseless statement considering that Nabi Saleh since 2009 is carrying out non-violent actions against the Israeli occupation, in all its facets.
A strategical choice that has encouraged the support for the Palestinian cause, it has collected various victories and that now obviously is perceived as a threat by Jerusalem, given the over-reaction and the excessive brutality carried out against the residents. In fact, a young man, Odai Tamimi, was shot in the face and in the chest by live ammunition. Wijdan Tamimi, 45 years old woman, was beaten and detained by the soldiers in front of her 4 years old nephew. Faysal Nakhla, was physically attacked and was prevented to reach his house at just 5 meters from the village’s entrance.
It appears clear that such siege was forced on the village as a collective punishment in the attempt to break the firmness of the popular struggle and weaken the whole non-violent movement. In fact, Nabi Saleh is very well known to be one of the most active resistant villages of the West Bank. Every Friday it stages nonviolent demonstrations against the land confiscation and the theft of the only spring source carried out by the Halamish settlement. In the last month Nabi Saleh endured an escalation of repression and arrests culminated in the blockade.
Once again, the adverse conditions didn’t break the willingness of the residents to react. On Monday 14th of April, the Popular Struggle Committee of Nabi Saleh called for a demonstration in order to end the siege. Activists from all over West Bank reached the village to give a significant support to the action. Many mobile checkpoints were put on the way from Ramallah in the attempt to diminish the flow. Even so they didn’t manage to impact the effectiveness of the event which resulted being a massive success.
As soon as the march reached the main road, the IOFs started shooting intense amounts of tear gas and sound grenades. Nevertheless, the march proceeded united towards the checkpoint where it refused to move until the gate wasn’t opened and the siege removed. Although the peaceful spirit of the demonstration, the army used uncontrolled violence, especially towards the women who were beaten, pushed and tossed to the ground several times. After an hour or so, the army decided to withdrawal and the demonstrators managed to open the main road’s gate as well as the eastern gate that was kept closed since12 years.
Nabi Saleh has proven that the use of non-violence isn’t a passive way to conceive the struggle, but it’s a strategical choice that threatens the status-quo allowing the participants to advance requests, and to obtain them.
This episode was also an occasion to remind the world that the Palestinians are continuously subjected to mobility restrictions and controls due to the policy of territorial fragmentation carried out by the Israeli State. Such limitations materialize themselves through a system of checkpoints, apartheid roads and by the apartheid Wall.