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Palestinian women take back spring as settlers, soldiers look on

For the first time in years, a group of Palestinian women was able to reach the Nabi Saleh spring, which was taken over long ago by settlers. The women vowed to return, hoping to hold on to the spring.

Women at the spring in Nabi Saleh (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Every Friday for the past three years or so, Nabi Saleh residents, along with Israeli and international supporters, have been demonstrating against the theft of their lands by settlers from the nearby settlement of Halamish. At the focus of the struggle is the attempt to reach the Al-Kous spring, which was taken over by settlers in recent years. Week after week, demonstrators march toward the spring, but are stopped by soldiers who disperse them with tear gas (sometimes aimed directly at protestors and once resulting on the death of a Nabi Saleh resident) with “skunk” water, severe beatings, arrests and more.

Marching to the spring (Anne Paq / Activestills)

On Sunday, for the first time in years, a group of roughly 30 Palestinian women was able to make it to the spring. The group was made up of local women, who were joined by activists from other villages, and supporters from Ramallah and Jerusalem. Soldiers and settlers who arrived at the scene did not stop the women from picnicking around the spring. After a few hours, the group left, vowing to return.

A quiet soldier (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

“The point of this direct action was to reclaim what the settlers have stolen from the village of Nabi Saleh,” says Irene Nasser. “Many of the women were very excited about being able to reach this beautiful place, after dozens of demonstrations during which they were barred from going there. The uniqueness of the action was also in that it was about women taking the popular struggle into their own hands and leading it together.” Women at the Al-Kous spring (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Nasser believes that the soldiers did not react this time both due to the fact that they were facing a women-only group, and as a result of the Shalom Eisner story – in which an officer was caught on video beating a Danish peace activist – and the trauma it caused in the army’s ranks. In the coming weeks, the women plan to organize more direct actions, both in Nabi Saleh and elsewhere, in order to both challenge the army and empower the women taking part in the struggle.

Women at Al-Kous spring (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

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    1. David

      This is the Real Arab Spring!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Jo Prostko

      You Go, Girls!!

      Reply to Comment
    3. “Nasser believes that the soldiers did not react this time both due to the fact that they were facing a women-only group, and as a result of the Shalom Eisner story – in which an officer was caught on video beating a Danish peace activist – and the trauma it caused in the army’s ranks.”
      No one owns the West Bank in toto. These women have shown so this day. And it is possible, at least briefly, for a violation of the human rights of one to give (some) power to others. Women are the occupation’s weak link, and their smiles are worth saving. May creative responses like this multiply.
      But there will be tactical responses, over time. One has to have alternatives in reply.
      Such a simple, powerful thing–to laugh around water. They have already done more than I ever have.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Shlomo Krol

      Power to the women! We need Israeli and Palestinian Ecclesiazusae to end this war (and I am thinking with dread about having Israeli and Palestinian Lysistrata :-).

      Reply to Comment
    5. Tal

      Mabrouk! Keep on…

      Reply to Comment
    6. sh

      “the soldiers did not react this time both due to the fact that they were facing a women-only group, and as a result of the Shalom Eisner story”
      It reminded me of the Palestinian women and children who are sometimes slipped through the checkpoints by a well-meaning group of Israeli women, in order to allow them to taste, feel and smell an ocean that many of them only manage to glimpse from a roof or a hilltop. Without water no living being survives. Access to and management of it is the most important battle of all as Yuval Ben Ami shows in the latest installment of his spring journey. Israelis shouldn’t imagine that they can afford to be complacent; the likes of the Tshuvas and the Ofers are filling their own pockets not theirs.
      Glad to see a camera on hand recording that womanpower achieved what manpower has thus far not. As David comments above, “this is the real Arab Spring!”.

      Reply to Comment
    7. ginger

      When Palestinians get all of Palestine back, I will be reminded of this

      Reply to Comment
    8. AYLA

      wooooo hoooooooooo! beautiful, beautiful news, and photos.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Susan Klee

      I hope that the “spring” starts flowing — looks stagnant to me — so that the women can get clean water from it. Whoever ordered the soldiers and settlers to desist from their stupid blockade of the women: Finally you are using common sense!

      Reply to Comment
    10. Dhalgren

      That is a good sign and a good sight to see. I echo Ayla’s above sentiment (perhaps with slightly fewer o’s). It’s something for the macho types to consider too: what women can achieve that men simply can’t (for whatever reason).

      Reply to Comment
    11. DTA

      Is there a video link of this?

      Reply to Comment
    12. AYLA

      SusanKlee–that’s what all the springs here look like this time of year–nothing political about that. But what makes water really alive is all that love.

      Reply to Comment
    13. letizia

      F A N T A S T I C !!!!!!!!!!!! <3 The strength of women can do miracles!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    14. Hanna Bash

      What a joy to see these simple women enjoying their right to that place, hopefully in the future may go all the Palestinians …. Long live the Arab spring!

      Haggai thanks for the info, peace to you!

      Reply to Comment
    15. Not a single negative comment on this thread. They don’t know what to say. Here is a crack in the wall.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Jelakhan

      good job girls, from a proud Israeli who wants to have peace with our neighbors.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Eliyahu Heskel

      “Ginger says: When Palestinians get all of Palestine back, I will be reminded of this”

      To Greg Pollack, I guess the erasure of Israel doesn’t count as a negative comment now does it?

      Reply to Comment
    18. david

      Why are those Arab squatters allowed anywhere
      near Judea, Samaria or the rest of Israel?
      The so-called Palestinians need to return to any of the 22 Arab countries they came from or wish to live in, (and don’t confuse me with the “David” of the 4/22/12 entry above.)

      Reply to Comment
    19. Piotr Berman

      David of May 3 entry , what are Jews, who claim to be from Judea, doing in Samaria?

      It is actually known from history that Samaritans were sticking more to living in Palestine than Jews, but eventually almost all converted, including some clans in Nablus area. And surviving Samaritans of Samaritan religion make it very clear that they are not Jews, have nothing to do with Jerusalem. So what is the reason for Judean aggression on Samaria?

      Also, if Judeans feel so strongly about Judea, perhaps we have a great peace proposals: all Israeli, Jews to Judea, and Gallilee, the coast, and lands to the south of Wilderness of Zin (i.e. south of Beer Sheva) to Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment