Over 20 villagers, including 14 children, were hurt in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh today. The villagers, who did not take part in the demonstration, were hurt after the house they were taking refuge in was attacked by Israeli soldiers in a volley of tear gas projectiles and rubber-coated bullets. One boy was hit in the stomach by a tear-gas projectile. He, along with four others, required medical care, and were evacuated to the hospital.
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Clashes in the village began after soldiers blocked some 200 demonstrators – Palestinians, Israelis and internationals – from reaching a spring on privately owned Palestinian land, which was recently taken over by Hallamish settlers. Despite being entirely peaceful, demonstrators were assaulted with tear-gas and rubber-coated bullets.
Approximately six weeks ago, a group of Halamish settlers took over the spring located in privately owned Palestinian land between the village and the settlement. Since then, and despite the fact that ownership of the land is undisputed, the army began preventing Palestinians from accessing the area.
While demonstrations in recent weeks were triggered by the barring of access to the spring, their over all motivation is to stop the constant advance of the settlement onto Palestinian land. Since 1977 half of the Nabi Saleh's farm-land was lost to the settlement.
Also today, demonstrators marked the Palestinian Prisoner Day in the villages of Bil'in, Ni'ilin and alMaasara. In both Ni'ilin and Bil'in soldiers crossed the gates in the barrier and charged at the demonstrators while shooting live ammunition in a attempt to make arrests. While the army's attempt proved unsuccessful in Bil'in, one demonstrator was arrested at gun-point in Ni'ilin.
The arrest today comes amidst an Israeli wave of repression aimed at quashing the Palestinian popular movement.