The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 04-06.05.2010

All across the protesting villages of the West Bank, the political intimidation is escalating with arrests of activists. There will be no footage from Bil’in, this week, as friend, fellow activist, B’tselem camera man and Bil’in resident, Haitham Al-Khatib was arested, yet again, while doing his job. (update 20.5.10: this week’s footage has been recovered and can be found here) Along with two fellow Bil’in residents, Al-Khatib was taken to Ofer prison, without even so much as an interrogation. The two Israeli activists and international activist were released at 20 past midnight, that night.

In Ni’lin, a bit of symbolic flag burning was quickly dispersed with chemical weapons.

The Israelis that took part in the Ni’lin demonstration then moved along in the direction of Nebi Sallah to join the end of the protest. On their way, some of the activists were detained by a military jeep with the flimsy excuse that they were in area A, which Israelis are barred from. They were taken to a military base located inside the Halamish settlement and held unlawfully for more than six hours until the police had to release them with no charge.

The Israeli activists that did make it to Nebi Sallah witnessed the following:

In Nebi Salah, the youth clashed with border police officers and soldiers, but by the evening the clashes subsided, that is until an army jeep returned to the village, repeatedly driving up the access road and drawing the village youths toward it. suddenly the shout that soldiers have entered the village was heard, and the protesters began to run away. seconds later it transpired that around seven undercover police were present, and discovered by the villagers. the undercovers proceeded to shoot their hand guns in the air, throw stun grenades and gas grenades, and charged into the crowd, arresting whoever they could get their hands on. their catch included a petrified Palestinian boy aged 11, one youth of 19, and two Israeli activists. all were led away by the undercovers with the backup of around twenty soldiers from a special force. Women from the village, upon hearing that a boy was arrested, ran over to where the soldiers were loading the arrestees on to a jeep, and pleaded to see the arrested boy. border police officers threw tear gas and the women and threatened them with violence. following urgent intervention by protesters, the 11 year old boy was released soon after being taken with the others to the Halamish settlement. he testified that one of the undercover police beat him at the settlement, and was experiencing pain in his arm.

The other arrestees were taken, bound and blindfolded, to the binyamin police station, where the two Israelis were interrogated for allegedly being in a closed military zone. the Palestinian was transferred to Ofer.

A day earlier, in Walage,six were injured. Four Palestinians and a Canadian solidarity activist were arrested. One of the arrestees, whose house is adjacent to the construction site, was arrested after the demonstration had already finished when he was posting Palestinian flags on the path of the wall, near his house.

More nonviolent demonstrations took place during the week in the villages Beit Jalla, Ma’asara, Beit Ummar, Sheikh Jarrah and many others.

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