Burqa, a village to the northwest of Nablus, began weekly demonstrations against the
"re-incursion" of Israeli settlers onto a hill to the west of their village. An illegal settlement was abandoned and demolished by the Israeli army in 2005, but in recent months two settler families returned. They set up house trailers as an outpost, a precursor to another settlement. Because of these settler families, the Israeli army is denying the owners of the land access to their fields.
Soldier prepared to fire, blocking any movement
The peoples stopped at the bottom of the final hill and announced their intentions over a loudspeaker. The soldiers were anxious and lobbed concussion grenades as we approached. There was no warning or provocation. The group backed down the hill a bit and organizers began to make more speeches over the loudspeaker. There was no possibility of advancing any farther. The soldiers directly above us made that very clear, gesturing with their rifles.
Before the tear gas
Observing the soldiers as we walked away presented a living definition of the cliché “itchy trigger finger.” At the conclusion several young boys threw a few stones from the road in the direction of the soldiers. They were so far below the level of the army on the hill that there was no danger to the military. It was a small futile gesture, an expression of frustration, but that wasn’t the issue. The tear gas was handy and it was used liberally. The tear gas blanketed the hillsides. Everyone scattered. There was no planting that week. The farmers will return again.