In 2003, other villages in this region led a nonviolent resistance struggle against the wall, holding daily and/or weekly demonstrations. Budrus became one of the first villages to successfully win an Israel court order to push back the apartheid wall to the Green Line.
In May 2008, when construction began again in Nil'in on the barrier fence and later the concrete wall, the village held 3 -4 demonstrations every week. Villagers were joined by international and Israeli peace activists. In response to the demonstrations the Israel Occupation forces [IOF] reacted with extreme violence, including firing massive amount of teargas from new weaponry mounted on jeeps. The weaponry consists of cannons capable of firing 10 - 15 tear gas canisters simultaneously.
Since 2008, 5 villagers have been killed including a ten-year old boy who was holding a flag in each hand and asking for peace. Many more have suffered injuries. In this same time period, 160 villagers have been arrested during demonstrations or in Israeli army night raids. These men have been jailed and imprisoned for different lengths of time. Eleven villagers are still in prison. In Nil’in in March 2009 Tristan Anderson, an American peace activist was shot in the forehead at close range with a tear gas canister. Tristan, who spent more than a year in an Israeli hospital, recently returned home to California, very incapacitated due to considerable brain damage.[Demonstrators carried the Palestinian flag and the Irish flag - in honor of the Rachel Corrie, Irish ship of the Flotilla.]
The huge Israeli settlement is in the distance, up from the wall and the barrier land.
Friday, June 11th, MPTers met with the Nil’in villagers, Israeli peace activists and other internationals in the fields just behind the village for the Nil’in Demonstration against the illegal apartheid wall. After noon prayer in the field, the demonstrators marched toward the wall carrying Palestinian flags and the Irish flag for the Rachel Corrie ship from the Freedom Flotilla. The soldiers were positioned behind gate of the 3-storey concrete wall. This concrete wall completed last year, was constructed in front of the wire barrier fence put up in 2008.
Within a short time, volleys of powerful tear gas caused the demonstrators to move back and westward along the wall. MPTers experienced the tear gas more powerful than ever before. The soldiers seemed to be shooting the canisters at people and not in an arch. Since the Israeli naval raids on the Freedom Flotilla, Israelis, but particularly Israeli settlers seemed to have become more nationalistic and more fearful. A small group of settlers from the nearby settlement stood about ½ miles away, sang songs and shouted at the demonstration in support of the army encouraging them to kill Palestinians. After less than hour there was less action so one of the leaders asked the MPTers to hike back to the village through the fields, a safer route than the main path used sometimes by army jeeps after a demonstration.[Volleys of potent tear gas filled the area with smoke. Cloud formeds and stayed in the area about 30 seconds, but it took minutes to recuperate from one, even at a distance.]
[Note the distance between the electrified fence and the cement wall and the loss of olive groves.]
This man showed MPT some footage of 2008 demonstrations when villagers first began to demonstrate against the new wall. There was face to face contact with Israeli soldiers who responded violently to the nonviolent resisters, including children.
The man then showed MPT a scar where he had been hit by a tear gas canister. He said, “I was ashamed to tell my son [10 years old] that this was done to me by an Israeli soldier. I did not want my son to hate the Israeli soldier who had hurt his father. I do not want my son to see Israeli soldiers as the enemy. I want us to live in peace, as people of peace.” Later when he has the opportunity to do so, he said this to an Israeli soldier during a demonstration. The soldier’s reaction was to shoot more tear gas. He then said to the soldier, “You do not understand what I said now, but maybe someday you will."