“What’s happening now is what is happening every week, sometimes everyday, since nearly nine years”, explains Belal Tamimi, a resident of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. “Every Friday, we have this situation, the soldiers try to surround the village, they don’t want anyone to be near the spring area that the settlers occupied nine years ago. Every Friday, the situation is horrible”, says Belal, who has taken the role of documenting the protests and the constant raids by the Israeli army.
Nabi Saleh, a small village of 600 inhabitants, has been recently in the headlines, following the arrest of the young activist, Ahed Tamimi (17), who slapped an Israeli soldier in front of her home last December. However, there is little attention to the fact that the village is regularly invaded by the Israeli army, days and nights, triggering clashes with the youth, who confront the soldiers with stones. The arrests takes place mostly during the nights and currently, acording to Belal Tamimi, 19 residents of Nabi Saleh are imprisoned by the Israeli authorities.
The weekly protests in Nabi Saleh began in 2009, following the confiscation of the main spring of the village by the nearby settlement of Halamish. Since then, every Friday, the residents gather to protest the land confiscation and the Israeli occupation. Since 2009, three people have been killed by Israeli soldiers during the demonstrations: Mustafa Tamimi (28) killed in 2011, Rushdie Tamimi (31) killed in 2012, and Saba Abu Ubeid (23), from the nearby village of Salfit, killed in 2017. No Israeli soldiers were brought to justice in any of these cases.
On Friday, April 20, the Israeli soldiers invaded the village at the beginning of the afternoon, triggering clashes with Palestinian youth, who responded with stones to make the soldiers leave. The clashes lasted several hours, during which the Israeli soldiers shot scores of tear gas, fired rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition that wounded two of the protesters. At some point, the Israeli soldiers pretended to be leaving, while some soldiers were still hiding in a garage in order to catch and arrest some protesters. The attempt was unsuccessfull, as the soldiers were spotted by the youth. The main gate of the village was also closed for several hours by the Israeli military forces. The soldiers also harassed Belal Tamimi, a known activist from the village, as well as other photographers and journalist, trying to prevent them from documenting the events.
While the soldiers were pretending to leave, one soldier turned to a woman, Nawal Tamimi, and with a big smile said: “thank you.” Nawal, a resident of Nabi Saleh, was standing next to her brother, Belal Tamimi, and both were just being harrassed by the soldiers, who pushed them, shoved mobile phones to their faces filming them from close range, and called Nawal a “whore” in Arabic.
“Thank you?!!” Nawal asked and continued: “Thank you for targeting our houses? Thank you for targeting our children? You want to kill our children and you say thank you? You are really… I don’t know, there is no word to describe… because you are killers. You come to kill our children. Thank you killer, because you come to our village to kill our children. Thank you, terrorists!”