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Israeli refusing restraining order from Nabi Saleh released

UPDATE: An Israeli woman arrested during Friday’s demonstration in Nabi Saleh, who refused to sign an order forbidding her from entering Nabi Saleh for two weeks as a condition of her release, has today been released without conditions.


Two dozen Palestinian, Israeli and international activists were arrested at a protest marking one week since the killing of Mustafa Tamimi; IDF fires tear gas, “skunk spray” on protesters with start of demonstration. 

Of the two dozen people who were arrested at Friday’s weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, most – the Israelis and internationals – were released by Saturday. The Palestinians, however, were held longer. Muhammad Khatib, a coordinator from the Bil’in Popular Committee was released later on Sunday, and Mohammad Tamimi from Nabi Saleh was still detained on Sunday evening.

As a condition for their release, the Israeli and international activists were required to sign injunctions forbidding them from entering Nabi Saleh for two weeks. Two Israeli women who were arrested initially refused to be released. One refused as a protest against legal discrimination of Palestinians, who are tried under a military court system, as opposed to the regular civil process for Israelis. She was ultimately released.

The other Israeli refused to sign the order on the grounds that the IDF’s policy of declaring Nabi Saleh, Bil’in and Ni’lin as “closed military zones” – making it illegal for Israelis to enter these areas for any purpose at the Friday demonstrations – is a violation of the right to assembly.  A judge rejected her claim at an arraignment hearing today, and she is scheduled for another hearing tomorrow.

One week after the death of Mustafa Tamimi, hit by a tear-gas canister fired by the IDF at very close range, the regular demonstration at Nabi Saleh on Friday was larger than usual, with over a hundred activists including Israelis, Palestinians and some internationals. A substantial press corps also attended.

The demonstrators marched down the road leading out of the village, as they have every Friday for nearly two years. They sought to reach the nearby spring, which has been taken over by the settlement of Halamish, making it impossible for villagers to reach the water source.

Nabi Saleh demonstration, moments before tear gas fired, 16 12 11 (Photo: Noa Yachot)

The IDF used crowd dispersal methods almost immediately; the demonstrators had barely rounded a bend in the road when tear gas was fired in all directions. Both sides of the road were soon clouded over and many fled; at least one woman fainted immediately and was carried away, while others coughed, choked and cried before returning to the road.

The tear gas seemed calculated to end the demonstration, rather than a response to violence – no stones were thrown on Friday during the demonstration, although previous demonstrations have involved stone-throwing.

The IDF continued in a methodical way: firings rounds of tear gas first to the left of the road, then to the right – streaks of gas exploded in firework patterns and a breeze scattered the painful air around. The demonstrators partially regrouped, and next an army truck advanced, causing them to flee back up the road again. The truck then fired an enormous geyser of what looked like water into the air. A rank stench filled the whole area, a stink so foul it is referred to as “skunk.”

Nabi Saleh - IDF fires skunk spray 16 12 11 (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

But some of the demonstrators had already managed to scurry off the road and make their way to towards the settlement. As army jeeps advanced toward them, they quickly took up positions, linking arms and sitting down immediately by the side of the road. They were arrested forcibly, with Border Guard forces prying each one away from the other.

Nabi Saleh Arrests 16 12 11 (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

The charges against Mohammad Khatib (wearing a gray shirt in the video below) involved attempting to assault a soldier. As one Facebook post noted dryly: Judge for yourself.

Noa Yachot and Noam Sheizaf contributed reporting to this article.

This article has been corrected: Some stones were thrown later in the day on Friday, after the main demonstration had already broken up.

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    1. aristeides

      It’s strange that the IDF claims it has no authority to arrest Jews when the Jews are assaulting their own officers, but it seems to have no problem arresting Jews who come to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Dee Coombes

      What kind of state makes thieves, bullies and murderers of its youth? Shame on you Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Angela

      fear and anxiety makes aggressive, makes people losing their mind…..like this there is no chance of peace.

      Reply to Comment
    4. AYLA

      Dahlia, Noa, Noam–thank you so much for the inside reporting.
      I just want to thank the Israelis who showed up, knowing pretty certainly that they would suffer tear gas and possibly worse. I know from Palestinians that it means a lot when Israelis show, for protests or for projects, in solidarity. That’s the kind of experience that can change this landscape, possibly more because of the experience between those protesting together than for the press/awareness, though both are important. This land is small, and every interaction matters. The Europeans with their shrill “This is Palestine” are well-meaning, but it’s the Israelis showing up that makes the difference.
      I, for one, would like to see more protests with Palestinians and Israelis together, each on their own side of the line, because I think we can get people to show up in bigger numbers that way. We need mass demonstrations together, FOR something common, not one side against another.
      Again, thank you. Great reporting.
      What can we do to put pressure to get the remaining Palestinian demonstrators out of prison?
      Can someone please answer my ongoing question about why we don’t use petitions in this country? I’m thinking in the model of Move.On? Not like Avaaz.orgs, but local, online petitions, for constituents, over very specific issues (Free these protestors, Save Lifta, Preserve the Call To Prayer, etc.).

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ayla,
      The Knesset, modeling itself as a Parliament, could grant the right to petition. If you could find a handful of “left” KM’s to keep trying to submit a petition of Isreali signitures for reading in the Knesset, you have a low level protest event within the Knesset which might expand if other parties defend the right of petition for their own reasons (such as embarassing those in control). The right of petition is in the US Bill of Rights. But the House refused all petitions condemning slavery for decades; former President John Quincy Adams, later elected to the House as a representative, became famous for forcing petition refusal each year, claiming the people were being gagged. It is not a bad idea, if the text is carefully crafted; but the Knesset will reject it–which is the point, I guess.
      If the IDF has complete authority over Israeli citizens in “closed military zones,” this means that settlers in these zones have been stripped of their civil rights. But said settlers will balk at this. The Israeli woman claiming her right to assembly was violated is also asserting an equal protection claim (the “full equality of social and political rights” of the Declaration of Independence; not a real quote, though). The High Court will never declare the occupation illegal. But it might declare a violation of equal protection among Israeli citizens. If a settler may enter the area, any Israeli can under equal protection. If settlers have in potential the right to protest peacefully, so too do Israeli left leaning citizens. If the military attempts to strip these of their rights, they are asserting the power to strip the settlers too.
      So the woman is released. Crucially, she did not, on the reading of this post, declare the occupation illegal. The IDF could then have legitimately denied her plea under High Court law. But she simply made a plea for equal protection. The High Court could hear this; for, if it does not, the Court implicitly allows the Knesset (which empowers settlements, more or less) and IDF to strip citizenship as appllied. This would completely nullify Court power and remove the principle of judicial autonomy. So the IDF (or others) release the woman unconditionally to avoid a test case.
      Once again, the right (and IDF) show they are indeed not unafraid of Court power, in potential. You may have a real lever here. My faith has always been that struggling people, and the law, can begin change. It will be terrifying for some who risk, but I remain convinced that it can be done.

      Reply to Comment