The village of Nabi Saleh النبي صالح

Introduction: Tamim in Arabic, means strong:

Before 2009 Bashir Tamimi and his family owned a natural spring in Nabi Saleh. Then, along with access to their agricultural land, the spring was taken from them by Israeli settlers from the nearby Halamish settlement. Since then, the residents of Nabi Saleh have been protesting every week against the land confiscations. They have endured violent, long-standing and fatal clashes with the Israeli authorities.

Almost all of Nabi Saleh’s residents are part of the Tamimi family – related by blood or marriage.  They have been active in organising and participating in the protests every week. They have also gained the support of the international community through social media outlets, human rights agencies and by inviting internationals to come into their homes. They have never relented, even after two family members were killed during separate demonstrations;

Mustafa Tamimi was killed in December 2011, after a tear gas canister exploded in his face during a protest. The Palestinians throw stones at the Israeli Army. They respond with tear gas, skunk water, rubber bullets and sound grenades.

Rushdi Tamimi was killed in November 2012. He was shot by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration to show solidarity with the people of Gaza. According to a subsequent IDF investigation he had had 80 live rounds fired at him.

19/02/13, Ramallah, Palestine.
Today I went to Nabi Saleh to meet Manal Tamimi and her family at their home in Nabi Saleh. Manal spoke fluent English and she talked to us about the protests, her family and why she would never leave her life in the village.

She told us how she had been arrested, along with her husband, Bilal, many times. She told us how her children had all been injured – one son was temporary blinded when a weapon hit him in the eye – luckily his sight had since recovered.

She showed us the different gas canisters that the family had collected. She had a bowl of rubber bullets on the table. Her youngest son was wandering in and out the room, not fazed by the large group of foreign visitors, a teargas canister locked in his small hands.

Manal told us how the family had begun protesting three years ago, when their spring was annexed as part of the Halamish settlement. Since then, the entire village has come together once a week, unarmed, to protest against the confiscation of their land, life under occupation in Nabli Saleh and the West Bank as a whole.

We heard that the Tamimi family were not alone in their protests, many internationals came from all over the world, including activists in Israel, to show support. Manal had mixed views on the involvement of foreigners however. On one hand, international support drew attention to the village and the injustices faced by its residents. On the other hand, she explained, foreigners are not used to protesting. They do not have the strength or the resilience that we do. We know how to cope with the effects of the tear gas and other weapons used against us. They do not know how to protect themselves.

Manal then put on a short video that Bilal had put together. It was a mixture of clips from different weekly protests that he had shot on his video camera, ‘Five Broken Camera’s style’. The clips showed tear gas canisters being fired at point-blank range. One showed a canister exploding inside the designated ‘safehouse’, where the children of Nabi Saleh had been hidden to try and protect them from the aftermath of the protests. It showed frantic parents holding ladders against a top floor window as the children screamed from inside. Manal told us that many of the children had suffered kidney and lung damage that day.

Another clip showed a hysterical mother flinging herself against a military vehicle as the Israeli soldiers pulled away. Manal explaned that the woman’s son had been arrested, left in solitary confinement for 48 hours and then forced to sign a document in Hebrew. Unbeknown to the youngster the document had detailed the ‘conspiracy crimes’ of one of the main organisers of the Nabi Saleh protests. The statement was used as evidence against the man, who was then imprisoned.

Then we saw a dead man whose face had been ripped apart by a tear gas canister. Someone lent down and placed a keffiyeh over his shattered face – it was Mustafa Tamimi. I couldn’t look away.

Manal turned off the video. We sat in silence. One girl ran out of the room in tears.

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