|Nabi Saleh, a small village of about 550 people, 20 km northwest of Ramallah|
in the West Bank, has been organising non-violent protests against land theft
since 2009. On December 9, 2011, the Friday demonstration began as it
always did: villagers, international and Israeli activists gathered in the centre of
the village and marched towards land usurped by the Israeli settlement of
Halamish. Soon after, the Israeli military drove to the entrance of the village
in jeeps and began firing teargas at the protesters.
Mustafa Tamimi, 28, was protesting with other young men from the village. As
the jeeps stopped to let a bulldozer clear rocks that had been placed in the road
to prevent their entrance, Tamimi and a few others moved closer to throw stones
in a symbolic gesture against occupation.An Israeli soldier opened his door, aimed
his gun and shot Tamimi directly in the face with an "extended range" teargas
canister; he was shot from a distance of less than 10 metres, according to witnesses.
Tamimi died from his injuries.
Some experts trace conflict in the area back to 1976, when the illegal Israeli
settlement of Halamish (or Neveh Tzuf) was established on land belonging to
Nabi Saleh. Since then, the settlement has continued to grow and expand. In 2008,
residents of the village challenged the construction of a fence by Israeli settlers
on private Palestinian land. When the case was brought to Israeli court, it was
decided that the fence must be removed. However, like many Israeli court rulings
on Palestinian grievances, it was not upheld "on the ground" and the settlement
continued to illegally annex Palestinian land.
Soon after, settlers seized control of several springs which were all located on
land belonging to Nabi Saleh residents. Today, around 13 per cent of the villagers
has been arrested by Israeli authorities for participating in the demonstrations -
including 29 children and four women.
Recently, two prominent leaders of the non-violent struggle, Naji Tamimi and Bassem
Tamimi, were arrested and remain prisoners in Israel. They are charged with "incitement"
and organising "illegal" demonstrations.