On Friday, the village of An Nabi Saleh combined Land Day celebrations with their weekly demonstration against the illegal expansion of the Hallamish settlement onto village land. Speeches were held before the demonstration, and activists marched and resisted Israeli forces until sunset. Three demonstrators were injured and hospitalized, and another was arrested.
Land Day celebrations delayed the start of the demonstration for nearly two hours, as speeches of liberation, anti-occupation and perseverance were given by Popular Committee members, PLO and Fatah representatives in the town square. Hopes were high that the military would be fooled and not make their weekly, violent appearance in the town. After the celebrations ended, a crowed of over 100 people marched through the town and towards the illegally confiscated land and spring. Demonstrators succeeded in coming within 50 meters of their land and spring before Israeli forces rained tear gas onto the nonviolent crowd. The military then began their ascent of the road leading to the village. Clashes broke out along the road as the demonstration tried to stop the military invasion of An Nabi Saleh. Israeli forces used rubber coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas to advance their attack. Soldiers surrounded the village, indiscriminately attacking homes, demonstrators and village residents.
Ten Palestinian demonstrators were hit with rubber coated steel bullets, hospitalizing three. Walid Abdullah Barghouthi, 20, was arrested during the invasion of the village.
The hilltop village of An Nabi Saleh has a population of approximately 500 residents and is located 30 kilometers northeast of Ramallah along highway 465. The demonstrations protest the illegal seizure of valuable agricultural land and the uprooting in January 2010 of hundreds of the village resident’s olive trees by the Hallamish (Neve Zuf) settlement located opposite An Nabi Saleh. Conflict between the settlement and villagers reawakened in the past month due to the settlers’ attempt to re-annex An Nabi Saleh land despite an Israeli court decision in December 2009 that awarded the property rights of the land to the An Nabi Saleh residents. The confiscated land of An Nabi Saleh is located on the Hallamish side of Highway 465 and is just one of many expansions of the illegal settlement since it’s establishment in 1977.