On the 27th of March 2015, close to 200 protesters from all over the West Bank gathered in Nabi Saleh to protest the occupation in commemoration of Land Day.
The protest was met with extreme violence as the Army and Border Police fired large amounts of tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets as well as several rounds of M16 live ammunition at the protesters.
On March 30th 1976 a general strike and marches were arranged all over Palestinian cities within Israel from the Naqab to the Galilee. The actions were a response to the Israeli Government’s expropriation of thousands of dunas of Palestinian land. During the actions six unarmed Palestinian Israeli citizens were killed, 100 wounded and hundreds more arrested. It was the first time since 1948 that the Palestinians within 1948 Israel organized as a Palestinian national collective and the date is commemorated yearly with a series of protest all over the West Bank.
This year the protests began on Saturday the 28th of March in Nabi Saleh.
Raining tear gas and arresting without provocation
Around 12 pm on Saturday, protesters from all over the West Bank, from Hebron to Kafr Qaddum, gathered in the village of Nabi Saleh. The demonstration was a local protest in commemoration of Land Day and of the two villagers Mustafa Tamimi and Rushdi Tamimi, who were murdered by the Israeli occupation soldiers.
After midday prayer protesters made their way down the main road of the village chanting and singing. On the outskirts of the village nine army and border police jeeps was gathered and as the demonstraters approached the road the about 60 soldiers and police rained tear gas on the unarmed and unoffending protesters. Several people suffered from severe tear gas poisoning as the military pushed them back into the village overpowering and arresting one Palestinian activist. The tear gas clouds covered the street for more than 30 meters and the protest spread into the farmlands surrounding the village.
Military on retreat
As the protest continued in the hills around Nabi Saleh protesters gathered again and threw back a large number of the tear gas canisters still being rained down on them by the army and border police. Resisting the tear gas and throwing the canisters back towards the military themselves the protesters managed to push the soldiers and police back down the hills towards the village gate. Here they took cover behind their jeeps unable to despurse the demonstration.
Rubber coated steel bullets and live M16 ammunition
As the protest continued the soldiers began firing rubber coated steel bullets at the protesters who took cover behind stones and trees as the bullets jumped off the road between them. The steel bullets came repeatedly and several protesters were hit and carried from the scene.
As the protesters ducked from the rubber coated steel bullets the sound of M16’s began to fill the air as soldiers started to target Palestinian protesters, children, internationals and journalists on the Hill with live ammunition. Fifteen M16 bullets ricocheted of the stones on the ground very close to the protesters, fortunately not hitting anyone. However, the protest continued for half an our longer until the military got back in their jeeps and moved back towards the check point at the outskirts of the city.
The Land Day protests will continue all over the West Bank throughout the week.