B’Tselem: Israel doesn’t recognize Palestinian right to protest

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B’Tselem’s new report. Show of Force: Israeli Military Conduct in Weekly Demonstrations in a-Nabi Saleh, comes at a critical time leading into the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN when mass demonstrations are expected throughout the occupied territories.

Stating that Israel has “infringed the rights of the Palestinian demonstrators” and doesn’t recognize their right to demonstrate, B’Tselem documented four consecutive demonstrations in a-Nabi Saleh between June and July this summer. The study was based in part on video footage taken by volunteers, many from their camera distribution project seen below.

B’Tselem’s documentation indicates that Israel does not recognize the right of a-Nabi Saleh’s residents to demonstrate. Israeli security forces prohibit the demonstrators from reaching the site that is the subject of the demonstration – al-Qawas Spring and the land around it – and prevent the procession from exiting the village towards the spring. Also, the army declares the demonstration illegal at the outset, sometimes even before the procession begins. The army also issues an order declaring the entire village a closed military area every Friday, and blocks the roads leading to it. As a result, persons from outside the village are unable to exercise their right to join in the demonstration.

In advance of the expected declaration of a Palestinian state on 20 September 2011, Israel’s defense establishment is preparing to cope with wide-scale demonstrations in the West Bank. As part of the preparations, the security forces must recognize Palestinians’ right to demonstrate, and must allow them to protest against infringement of their rights. The decision to disperse a demonstration must be made only after the relevant authorities have properly balanced the right to demonstrate against other relevant interests, as is done in the case of demonstrations held inside Israel. In any event, means for dispersing demonstrations must not be used in a way that injures persons or punishes all residents of the village.

We already know this, is Israel going to listen? It occurs to me it might require the global community to protect Palestinians. Is the world going to stand by and do nothing?

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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