Nabi Saleh attempts to peacefully protest for its water rights and against the occupation

Video from the June 10 protest in Nabi Saleh.

My first taste of ‘fire’ today, 10 June 2011, in solidarity with the pastoral Palestinian village of Nebi Saleh. Like everyone else, first-timers and seasoned demonstrators, I was shocked at the violence used by the soldiers against non-violent protesters – men, women and children, Palestinians, Israelis, and foreigners alike!

I can confirm that there was absolutely no provocation on the part of the demonstrators. We’d hardly taken our first steps through this sleepy village when tear gas canisters started falling all around us, the air became filled with the acrid smoke, and our eyes, mouths and skin took the impact of the tear gas.

Is this not chemical warfare? Personally, I can’t think of any other description that fits. No matter what you call it, it is being used in the most vengeful way imaginable against an innocent, civilian population who want nothing other than to legitimately walk down to their spring of water without harassment by the settlers who have built a village on their land (the red-roofed settlement of Halamish) or the soldiers who use sophisticated chemical weaponry to prevent them from even walking down the road in their own village.

Aside from the tear gas and rubber bullets, there’s also – by way of a grande finale – the notorious ‘skunk’, which is driven through the village spraying homes and people with a putrid, sticky chemical concoction, the ingredients of which are a mystery. Fortunately, I didn’t get to smell it at close range. It was bad enough to get a whiff of it from afar as our group, like the sheep ahead of us, eventually turned tail, and made our way back across country to our cars, leaving Nebi Saleh’s brave inhabitants behind us.

Next Friday, they will once again find themselves in a “closed military zone” face-to-face with a force that with impunity douses them, their children, their homes and village with chemicals and sows confusion and chaos. As we seem to be unable to stop the establishment’s terrible tactics, I think the very least we can do is be there with the Tamimi clan in Nebi Saleh. It’s scary, I know. But if you live in Israel, you should at least experience it once. That way you will know and never forget.
If you have never heard of Nebi Saleh (alternative spelling Nabi Salah), allow me to introduce the village, which is based deep in the heart of the West Bank or Palestine, for the many who already call it by that name. The village is home to just over 500 members of the Tamimi clan.

In 1976, the Israeli government appropriated swathes of Nebi Saleh land to build the settlement of Hallamish – hundreds of spacious red-roofed villas for religious settlers. Further encroachments of Nebi Saleh land followed, with settlers’ bravado very much on the rise since 2000. In the summer of 2008, the settlers laid claim to the fresh spring fountain and pools belonging to one of the Tamimi family and used by the villagers to water the flocks that are the main source of their livelihood.
Hallamish youths – by this time the settlement was calling itself Neve Tsuf – thought a spa would be a nice thing to have on their doorstep and so simply took over the site, walling it in, building, renovating and doing as they pleased, even going so far as to list it on an Israeli portal of springs and water sources! There the spring is listed as the Meir Spring, thus named in memory of one of their kind, ‘who bravely fought for the unification of the whole of Israel’.

Nebi Saleh opted for peaceful protest against the appropriation of the spring and ever since, the villagers and their Israeli and international supporters, have been trying every Friday to walk en masse to the waters. They never get there. Each week, the army and the Border Police appear to be curtailing their march and using more and more force to keep them ever further away from their spring.

Jenny Levin first came to Israel with a youth leadership course in 1968, and she moved there in 1969. After a decade in England she has been back in Israel since 2009 and is increasingly active in trying to stop “our downward spiral into the racist, apartheid, bigotted society that is all too reminiscent of the apartheid South Africa of my childhood and Fascist Germany, which my father managed to leave in 1935.”

About Jenny Levin

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 8 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. James says:

    excellent post jenny… thanks! maybe our resident zionists can comment on your post…. they usually slither away with posts like this that articulate so well what is going on………..

    witty, jon s and etc – comments?

  2. eljay says:

    >> We’d hardly taken our first steps through this sleepy village when tear gas canisters started falling all around us, the air became filled with the acrid smoke, and our eyes, mouths and skin took the impact of the tear gas.
    >> Is this not chemical warfare?

    I think the Zio-supremacists refer to it as “humanizing ‘the Other’” and making “better wheels”. It’s all part of being “a beacon unto the nations” “Jewish state” “only democracy in the Middle East”.

    “Israel: Not as good as the best but, hey, at least it’s not as bad as the worst!” (c)

  3. The Zionists usually disappear when confronted with direct and irrefutable evidence that Israel is not a democracy – no right to protest, or civil rights for non-Jews, constant discrimination and assault on people who dare stand up or speak up for themselves – and constantly engaged in ethnic cleansing, making life unliveable for people who have committed no other crime than existing inconveniently in places which Israel has defined as ‘theirs’. Their behaviour is criminal, racist and disgusting. The only reason the trolls come here is to deflect and keep the lid on the majority of people knowing the truth about Israel. Syria is condemned for far less, but there isn’t a Syria lobby or thousands of paid apparatchiks stalking Washington for them.

    • James says:

      …”making life unliveable for people who have committed no other crime than”” being members of the wrong religion! it is racism plain and simple…

  4. Scott says:

    This is an extraordinary post. I think you should send it explicitly to the Ethan Bonner and his wife, and to the Times editor– with a note saying it’s the kind of thing that deserves serious coverage in a major American newspaper. I don’t think these people are necessarily deaf to calls to be responsible to their profession.