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Ni'lin: 87% Land Loss

To protest the loss of 87% of their land, Ni'lin villagers hold weekly demonstrations. In response, the villagers and the earth receive huge amounts of tear gas and live bullets from the Israeli Occupation Forces.

Ni’lin is a village nestled in the hill country near the green line [border], not far from the village of Bil’in in the west of the Ramallah District. Until 1948, Ni’lin village was comprised of 14,500 acres; however 10,000 acres were annexed to Israel after the 1948 War leaving Ni’lin with only 4,500 acres. After the 1967 War, 2000 more acres were confiscated. Five illegal Israeli settlements, now with a total population of over 40,000, and a larger military base have been built on this land. In May of 2008, more than 600 acres were taken from the 2,500 acres left to the village after the 1967 confiscation. These confiscations included prime agricultural land with many productive olive trees. (For more detail see: http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article439)

After the May 2008 land confiscation there were almost daily demonstrations by a large number of villagers, and later there were twice weekly or weekly demonstrations. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) began by reacting to the demonstrations with extreme violence, including firing massive amounts of tear gas using a new weapon mounted on a jeep that could fire 15 -20 tear gas canisters simultaneously. The IOF has continued to respond very violently to the Ni’lin demonstration, even using live ammunition. Five villagers have been killed including one ten –year- old. An American, Tristan Anderson, was hit by a tear gas canister in March 2009 and is now living in a vegetative state.

The Ni’lin villagers have responded creatively to the land confiscation and the apartheid wall to the south of their village. In one demonstration they banged empty pots and pans to demonstrate the hunger and poverty caused by the land confiscation and the wall. In November 9, 2009, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the villagers tore down a section of this illegal concrete wall. http://jfjfp.com/?p=7234

On Friday, November 20, 2009, 4 MPTers joined a demonstration of more than 200 people including Palestinians, Israeli peace activists and internationals who walked to the apartheid wall in Ni’lin. The previous week, a new addition the length of two city blocks had been added to the previous wall. The wall is constructed by connecting 3 story-high cement slabs. Canisters with billowing clouds of tear gas greeted the approaching demonstrators. Gun shots were heard and the conjecture of some people was that 22 caliber rifles were being used against the demonstrators. It is probable that tutu bullets were used. Tutu bullets are said to be a bit larger than BB pellets, which could cause the loss of an eye. Two Palestinians were injured – one had his leg grazed and the other, who was shot between the legs, was taken to the Ramallah hospital, but is now in good condition. (See: http://www.israel-palestinenews.org/2009/11/previously-banned-tutu-bullets-return.html)

MPTers spoke with one villager who told them that he had lost all of his 8 acres of land in the 2008 confiscation. Two of his children need olive oil for a skin condition , so now he must buy olive oil for them. The monthly cost is exorbitant. The MPTers also met a young man who lost his university scholarship after spending time in prison probably for resistance activity. He said his family had lost their land in Israel in the Nakba and now he has lost his UN scholarship, so what is there to do except wait to die.

The following pictures document the Friday, November 20th, demonstration.

Villagers and internationals wait for the demonstration to begin.

[Click pictures to enlarge.]

Village men pray before the demonstration.

Israeli Occupation Forces stand prepared behind the huge cement apartheid wall.

Constant volleys of tear gas send demonstrators running.

A huge volley of tear gas from 15 - 20 canisters shot simultaneously fills the area with tear gas.

The tear gas fills the valley and drifts towards the settlement

just to the south.

MPTers use onions to help ease breathing.

Villagers set tires afire to the west, near a fenced area, being prepared for the cement slabs of the wall. The wind carried this heavy smoke toward the Israeli soldiers.

Young Red Crescent [Red Cross] aides are alert to injuries.

They face the separation wall and the huge illegal Israeli settlement across the valley.

Some tear gas canisters collected from the area.

Two men are injured. One needs hospitalization.

The Palestinian flag is held aloft throughout the demonstration. Israeli soldiers observe from a jeep up the hill on the road.

A tear gas canister rests among the rocks.

What is the future of this land and its people?

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