Dozens of residents of Nabi Saleh, joined by supporters from Israel and abroad, marked a historic victory on Friday when they succeeded in reaching the village's confiscated spring. Protest in the small hilltop village started in December 2009 as a response to the annexation of the fresh water spring and stealing of more of the village’s land by the adjacent settlement of Halamish. Since then, weekly protests have continuously attempted to reach the spring but always met with harsh military violence. In the past few months, two women's marches were able to reach the spring on weekdays, but this week marked the first time in which the Friday demonstration arrived to the site.
Two settles were bathing in the spring when a group of protesters arrived. The two were guarded by an army battalion, put in place to ensure, so it seems, their peaceful recreation on stolen land. Additional Israeli forces arrived in the area and closed it in order to stop the demonstrators. Protesters placed a Palestinian flag at the site despite the anger of settlers and soldiers, and clashes broke out between the Palestinians and forces stationed in an army tower. As protesters were making their way back to the village, Israeli forces attaked them with tear gas and stun grenades and the "skunk". No injuries or arrests were reported.
Nabi Saleh is a small village of approximately 550 people, twenty kilometres north west of Ramallah in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli colony of Halamish (also known as Neveh Tzuf ) was established on lands belonging to the villages of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham in 1976. In response to the illegal colony being established on their land, the residents of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham began holding demonstrations in opposition to the stealing of their land and the establishment of the colony (whose establishment violates international law). The residents of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham lodged a court case against the colony in Israel’s high court, but were unable to stop the construction the illegal settlement.
Since its establishment in 1977, Halamish colony has continued to expand and steal more Palestinian land. In 2008, the residents of An Nabi Saleh challenged the building of a fence by the colony on private Palestinian land and which prevented Palestinians from accessing their land. The Israeli courts ruled that the fence was to be dismantled Despite the Israeli court ruling, the colony continued to illegally annex more Palestinian land. In the summer of 2008, the Israeli colonists from Halamish seized control of a number springs, all of which were located on private Palestinian land belonging to residents of An Nabi Saleh.
In December 2009, the village began weekly non-violent demonstrations in opposition to the illegal Israeli colony of Halamish annexing of the fresh water springs and stealing of more of the village’s land. Since An Nabi Saleh began its demonstrations, the Israeli military has brutally sought to repress the non-violent protests, arresting more than 13% of the village, including children. In total, as of 31 March 2011, 64 village residents have been arrested. All but three were tried for participating in the non-violent demonstrations. Of those imprisoned, 29 have been minors under the age of 18 years and 4 have been women.