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Photos: Israeli forces attack Palestinian protest village

Palestinian activists create a new village, Al Manatir, on private Palestinian land near the West Bank village of Burin threatened by nearby Israeli settlements. Israeli forces violently evacuate the area, resulting in arrests and injuries.

Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

Palestinian activists sit among the tents of a newly created village named Al Manatir on land belonging to the West Bank village of Burin, February 2, 2013. The village was established to protest Israeli settlement expansion and settler violence faced by neighboring Palestinian villages. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

In the early morning hours of Saturday, February 2, Palestinian activists erected a new protest village in the spirit of Bab Al-Shams on a hilltop overlooking the West Bank village of Burin. Named Al Manatir, the new village’s location was selected to protest the expansion of nearby Israeli settlements and the violence and harassment Burin’s residents frequently face from settlers.

According to the action’s organizers,

Hundreds of Burin’s residents, together with Palestinian activists from across Palestine, established a new makeshift neighborhood of huts and tents in the village today, on lands threatened by confiscation by the adjacent Jewish-only settlement of Har Brakha. The new neighborhood is named Al-Manatir, after the traditional stone huts Palstinians built in their agricultural lands, which were used as shelter for the watchmen of the fields. In recent years, the village of Buring has suffered from frequent Settler attacks, launched from both the Har Brakha and the Yitzhar settlements. Activists stress that their main goal is to sustain presence on the land, as means of protecting it from confiscation and establishing the rights of Burin’s residents to their land. Shortly after the structures were established, groups of settlers from Har Brakha started to convene in the area and attack the Palestinians by throwing stones at them.

The Israeli military soon arrived on the scene, and though they separated settlers from Palestinians, they proceeded to violently eject Palestinians from the newly created village – despite the fact that it was created on Palestinian land belonging to the inhabitants of Burin. Though soldiers stood idly by as settlers carried away several of Al Manatir’s shelters, the military attacked Palestinian activists with tear gas, sound grenades and pepper spray. Several Palestinians were violently arrested for resisting the evacuation, and many required medical treatment for tear-gas inhalation and other injuries while fleeing from the rocky hilltop.

As activists and local residents returned to Burin, the Israeli military invaded the town, occupied its main streets, and fired tear gas for several hours as residents responded by throwing stones. The military also fired several volleys of live ammunition, and according to some reports, one resident was struck in the leg. Several residents of the town, including small children, were evacuated by ambulance and treated for tear-gas inhalation after their homes were engulfed in the fumes.

Haggai Matar provides further background on the context for this protest action:

This is the third Palestinian outpost to be set up in past month, the first being Bab Alshams (Gate of the Sun) in the E1 area, which gained both local and international attention until it was forcefully brought down, and the second being Bab Al-Karame (Gate of Dignity) in Beit Iqsa, which was also taken down by the army. Gaining more and more international support since the UN bid on November 29, 2012, Palestinians are expected to continue carrying out unarmed and non-violent protests such as these, highlighting Israel’s racist policies that differentiate in its attitude to Jewish illegal outposts on Palestinian land and Palestinian outposts on their own land.


Palestinian activists dance to celebrate the creation of Al Manatir . (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Palestinian activists take cover as Israeli soldiers invade Al Manatir. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Mohammad Khatib, Coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, confronts Israeli soldiers invading Al Manatir. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


A Palestinian activist occupies a shelter as Israeli soldiers surround Al Manatir. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Israeli soldiers use sound bombs and pepper spray to disperse Palestinian activists. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian youth during the forced evacuation of Al Manatir. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Israeli settlers steal a structure from Al Manatir as Israeli soldiers stand by. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Israeli soldiers hold down and pepper spray a Palestinian activist at point blank range. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Palestinian activists run amid tear gas and sound bombs thrown by Israeli forces forcibly evacuating Al Manatir. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian man during the forced evacuation of Al Manatir. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Palestinian youth throw stones at Israeli military jeeps invading the West Bank village of Burin, February 2, 2013. The army invaded Burin after ejecting Palestinian activists from the newly created village of Al Manatir on a nearby hilltop on village land. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


An Israeli soldier throws a tear gas grenade toward a home in Burin. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


A Palestinian medical worker evacuates a young girl suffering from tear gas that was fired into her home by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Burin. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


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    1. This is a struggle over the nature of struggle, confronting the structural violence of the occupation but, as well, the anger driven potential violence of the occupied. A controlled presence which refuses to lash out for blood. It must be extremely hard to set these villages up knowing what will quite rapidly happen. Yet they appear. I pray they continue. Both activists and soldiers are children of the suicide bombing campaigns. The activists are trying to show all of us a way forward.

      The photo of settlers carrying off a steel shed while troops look on is rather iconic.

      Three soldiers pepper spraying one man point bank? Maybe one was in training.

      Why not expand an existing village at its margins? Palestinian creep opposing settler creep.

      Reply to Comment
      • rsgengland

        On Al-Jazeera they showed a group of Palestinians wrestle an Israeli soldier to the ground, and then they all started kicking him while he was down.
        Imagine the squeals and shrieks if it had been the other way.

        Reply to Comment
        • I haven’t heard of that, and I dearly wish 972 would note such a thing–where it happened, why, and the condition of the beaten soldier.

          I need to stress that nonviolence has several fronts to it. One is the overt opponent–here, Israel as the IDF. Another is the people nonviolence wants to support–its must decry violence by its own people. Without this latter, it is not nonviolence; it is not enough to let others hit you–you have to refuse violence as a weapon by your people. Now, from what I have seen all three village protests meet these requirements. If the event you describe happened in the protest village, it destroys the action. But these village creators are not responsible for what happens outside their actions. As I said, they are doing several things at once, on several fronts.

          Reply to Comment
        • Peter Misheal

          Sound typical Israeli mentality. Did not mention what the solider was doing?
          Go back to Shfa-amr, were by a settler open fire on a bus full of Palestinian-Israelis,The Police turn around and charge the ones that try to stop him!!!!!

          Reply to Comment
    2. Gearoid

      Worse, as was published in Haaretz, the Civil Administration explicitly TOLD the IDF it had no authority, as the protest camp was in Area B.

      The IDF maintains it is “on a seam between B and C” and as such could declare a closed military zone AND evict the protesters, despite it being in Area B and being told they have NO authority.

      Even better, local settlers ran off with that tin shelter. That’s theft.

      Reply to Comment
      • The IDF trumps Administration with the label “security.” The “unwritten constitution” has been shifting to greater IDF immunity through the occupation. The occupation is altering the balance of power within Israel itself, most cleary evident when the IDF ignores–for years–a High Court order to move the Fence/Wall. Each time the IDF is allowed to do this, it becomes tempted to extend its “constitutional authority.”

        Since it would have been an easy matter for the soldiers present to prevent the theft of the metal shed, this theft attaches to the State–is an act of the State. This is the great cost of the settlers–they are unilaterally defining lawful action through the IDF’s willful blindness.

        Reply to Comment
      • Haifawi

        I thought that the IDF has explicit authority in Area B? Yeah, the PA controls planning and building but the IDF could still declare “security threat shenanigans” and bring the whole thing down.

        Reply to Comment