Dozens of villagers and Israeli and international activists demonstrated in Nabi Saleh, many hiking through the mountains to join the villagers since the village and surrounding area was made into a ‘closed military zone’ by the Israeli military at 9 am and shut with the new gate (one of two) that was installed earlier this week.
This week the villagers decided to pray on the mountain facing the settlement (instead of in the village mosque) before the demonstration began. When they gathered to pray, the Israeli military descended and ordered them to go inside their houses arguing that it was illegal for them to be outside of their houses when the village was a closed military zone. The villagers refused and non-violently staged a sit-in on the mountain until clashes broke out in the center of the village between the Israeli military and the youth, who were throwing stones and the Israeli soldiers left the mountain top.
During the clashes, the Isreali military shot tear gas directly at the youth, who threw tear gas canisters the army dropped back at the soldiers and broke the window of one of Israeli military’s jeeps. Several non-violent demonstrators made attempts to speak to the Israeli military and were sprayed with pepper spray directly in their faces. Dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation and three people were taken to the hospital, including a pregnant woman who suffered from tear gas that was shot directly into her house.
The Israeli military also occupied several houses and the holy shrine of the Prophet Saleh during the course of the day, entering one house after a 17 year old boy who they said they saw throwing stones, beating him and terrorizing his family as they resisted their entrance. They also arrested a seventeen year old boy and tried to arrest a twelve year old boy, who they said they saw throwing stones, but villagers and solidarity activists resisted his arrested and the Israeli military let him go. The arrest and torture of youth has heightened in the past week, with three children under the age of thirteen being arrested and tortured in an attempt to make them into collaborators.
At the end of the day, the Israeli military beat Naji Tamimi, one of the leaders of the popular struggle in the village, punching him three times in the face as he tried to protect soldiers from entering his house. Before the Israeli army left the village, they surrounded it in a cloud of smoke shooting over 60 tear gas bombs on the village simultaniously.
There was no official press at the demonstration, making the situation incredibly dangerous for the demonstrators. The Israeli military repeatedly told activists and citizen journalists to not take pictures or video and threatened them with pepper spray for documenting their activities.