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.
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.
Villagers and internationals wait for the demonstration to begin.
Village men pray before the demonstration.
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.
MPTers use onions to help ease breathing.