Resistance in Ni’lin Gets Loud!

8 June 2008

Friday evening, June 6, residents of Ni’lin, along with Israeli and international solidarity activists decided they would hold a symbolic demonstration against the construction of the Annexation Barrier. The Barrier is being built through their land to accommodate several illegal Israeli settlements, including Hashmonaim.
Friday evening, after a presentation for the community by Mustafa Barghouthi on the implications of the construction of the Barrier for Palestinian livelihood and future sovereignty, hundreds of residents, ‘armed’ with whistles, drums, and other noise-makers, marched towards the site of the construction. With the sun setting over the valley filled with olive trees and the imposing structures of the red-roofed settlement in the background, Palestinians chanted, clapped, whistled, and banged, disrupting the lives of the settlers for a moment; nothing compared to the total destruction to the lives of the Palestinians who will lose their ability to feed their families if the Barrier is built.

As most of the demonstration remained on the hill opposite the settlement and watched as settlers armed with automatic weapons raced to the edge of the colony, a small group of Palestinians and Israelis crossed the valley and approached the settlement. The Israeli activists called in Hebrew for the settlers to not shoot, that it was a non-violent demonstration. Despite this, and the clear presence of Israeli activists, the settlers began firing live ammunition. The Israeli military then arrived and began shooting massive amounts of tear gas throughout the area and onto the opposite hill where the mass of the demonstration remained. The small group that had approached the settlement returned to the larger demonstration and began using sticks to drum out a beat on scraps of metal.
Though the demonstration had an air of festivity and could not be perceived of being threatening to the heavily armed soldiers across the valley, the Israeli military quickly moved down from the edge of the settlement and began shooting rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition and copious amounts of tear gas which led to at least one young man losing consciousness. The participants were determined, however, and quickly regrouped after scattering to avoid being shot. For over an hour, until darkness made it too dangerous to continue a demonstration, Palestinians with Israeli and international supporters defied the violent attack by the Israeli soldiers, sometimes using the ancient olive trees for cover, and then regrouping and cheerfully blowing their whistles in defiance.