Nabi Saleh is a small village of approximately 600 people about 12 miles north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Nabi Saleh and its remarkable story of resistance received international attention in March 2013 when the village was the subject of a New York Times Magazine article by Ben Ehrenreich. The story of Nabi Saleh–illegal land appropriation, brutal military repression, and nonviolent resistance plays out in similar ways throughout the West Bank.
In 1977, in direct contravention of international law, the Jewish settlement of Halamish was established near the village of Nabi Saleh, and has ever since been inexorably expanding and annexing village land. Late in 2009 it began its seizure of Ayn al-Kus, the spring resting on the land of Bashir Tamimi, and used by the entire village for many generations. This was the final straw; on Christmas Day of that year the men, women, and children of Nabi Saleh walked to the spring in the first of a series of peaceful demonstrations that continue to this day. The response of the Israeli military was and has since been brutal and horrifically disproportional; its arsenal includes teargas, rubber bullets, sewage shot from water cannons, night raids of homes, live fire, and arbitrary arrests, often of children. Hundreds of demonstrators have been seriously injured, and two villagers, Mustafa and Rushdie Tamimi, have been killed.
This brutal repression has not only not stopped the protests, it has given birth to Tamimi Press, a group of village journalists, documenters, and videographers who have been relentlessly documenting the struggle through video, photography, and social media. Our delegation met with Bilal and Manal Tamimi on a Saturday in June; the well-known activist Nariman Tamimi had been arrested the day before.
Bilal, a journalist, has been videotaping the Friday protests since early on. His videos have been shared widely through international media and used as evidence — via their partnership with the human rights organization B’Tselem — in cases against the Israeli army. Despite arrests, injuries, and multiple broken cameras, Bilal — and his family and colleagues — are undeterred. Their video archive is a shocking indictment of the occupation, giving lie to those who would deny the cruelty of the military, or believe its claims of provocation. It is also a testament to the power of resistance and the bravery of the villagers in the face of such violence and oppression.
Bilal’s wife, Manal, has also been an active protester. After tea, Manal showed us a collection of ordnance, shell casings, tear gas canisters and outside their home were thousands more, strung together in almost decorative fashion–an archive of oppression and violence in itself.