Tonight at approximately 1:30 past midnight, Israeli soldiers forcefully entered the houses of Bassem and Naji Tamimi in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, north-west of Ramallah. the soldiers searched through both houses without being in possession of a warrant, and without leaving the houses' tenants with an itemized list of their seized property, as obliged by law.
Two computers, a phone, as well as dozens of documents were confiscated from Naji Tamimi's house, including personal notebooks belonging to Naji's children, birth certificates, etc. The soldiers then continued to Bassem Tamimi's house, where they confiscated two computers, a camera, CDs, as well as notebooks and documents.
Naji Tamimi was recently released after spending a year in an Israeli prison, for charges of protest organizing. Bassem Tamimi is currently being held by Israel, also on protest organizing charges, and is awaiting a verdict in his trial at the Ofer Military court. Both Naji and Bassem were recognized by the European Union as human rights defenders. On March 2nd, 2012, Amnesty International pronounced Bassem Tamimi a prisoner of conscience and called for his immediate and unconditional release from Israeli prison.
In the past two weeks, the army has raided the village of Nabi Saleh almost every night.
Late in 2009, settlers began gradually taking over Ein al-Qaws (the Bow Spring), which rests on lands belonging to Bashir Tamimi, the head of the Nabi Saleh village council. The settlers, abetted by the army, erected a shed over the spring, renamed it Maayan Meir, after a late settler, and began driving away Palestinians who came to use the spring by force - at times throwing stones or even pointing guns at them, threatening to shoot.
While residents of Nabi Saleh have already endured decades of continuous land grab and expulsion to allow for the ever continuing expansion of the Halamish settlement, the takeover of the spring served as the last straw that lead to the beginning of the village’s grassroots protest campaign of weekly demonstrations in demand for the return of their lands.
Protest in the tiny village enjoys the regular support of Palestinians from surrounding areas, as well as that of Israeli and international activists. Demonstrations in Nabi Saleh are also unique in the level of women participation in them, and the role they hold in all their aspects, including organizing. Such participation, which often also includes the participation of children reflects the village’s commitment to a truly popular grassroots mobilization, encompassing all segments of the community.
The response of the Israeli military to the protests has been especially brutal and includes regularly laying complete siege on village every Friday, accompanied by the declaration of the entire village, including the built up area, as a closed military zone. Prior and during the demonstrations themselves, the army often completely occupies the village, in effect enforcing an undeclared curfew. Military nighttime raids and arrest operations are also a common tactic in the army’s strategy of intimidation, often targeting minors.
In order to prevent the villagers and their supporters from exercising their fundamental right to demonstrate and march to their lands, soldiers regularly use disproportional force against the unarmed protesters. The means utilized by the army to hinder demonstrations include, but are not limited to, the use of tear-gas projectiles, banned high-velocity tear-gas projectiles, rubber-coated bullets and, at times, even live ammunition. The use of banned 0.22" munitions by snipers has also been recorded in Nabi Saleh.
The use of such practices have already brought about the death of Mustafa Tamimi and caused countless injuries, several of them serious, including those of children - the most serious of which is that of 14 year-old Ehab Barghouthi, who was shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet from short range on March 5th, 2010 and laid comatose in the hospital for three weeks. Due to the wide-spread nature of the disproportionate use of force, the phenomenon cannot be attributed to the behavior of individual soldiers, and should be viewed as the execution of policy.