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Life under Occupation in Ni'lin, Palestine

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February 9, 2009

Life under Occupation in Ni'lin, Palestine

Peaceful actions against the Apartheid Wall* result in Israeli repression

by Rana Hamadeh

Demonstrators cheer as Palestinians pull down barbed wiring that was erected on their land by Israeli forces. Photo: Rana Hamadeh

NI'LIN, PALESTINE–The residents of the small Palestinian village of Ni'lin have committed to fighting Israel's Apartheid Wall through regular, non-violent demonstrations. Protests began in the summer of 2008, when Israeli bulldozers began to clear the land in the village's olive groves in preparation for the continued construction of the West Bank barrier,* which runs through their land.

The Israeli army continues to retaliate against peaceful protesters with violence: rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas grenades, sound bombs and, on occasion, live ammunition.

With a population of just 4,700, the shootings of two youth last summer have made the people of Ni'lin more determined than ever to continue to resist the occupation of their land.

The following photographs were taken on July 31, 2008, in Ni'lin, with the exception of one photo, taken in the Ramallah hospital.

*The construction of the West Bank barrier, otherwise known as the Israeli Security Fence, is a "central component in Israel's response to the horrific wave of terrorism emanating from the West Bank," according to the Israeli Ministry of Security. Those who liken the State of Israel's treatment of Palestinians to South Africa's treatment of non-whites during the apartheid era refer to the barrier as the Apartheid Wall, declaring that it restricts the movements of people based on race, and that its construction violates international law. If the barrier is constructed in Ni'lin, it will annex about 618 acres of agricultural land.

Rana Hamadeh is a Palestinian-Canadian student living in Ottawa; she has thrice visited occupied Palestine.

Protesters throw stones in a demonstration in Ni'lin as the Israeli army begins to shoot rubber-coated steel bullets.
A Palestinian man retreats behind an olive tree after the first round of tear gas is fired.
An International Solidarity Movement volunteer at the site of two tear gas bombs that went off earlier in the protest. Tear gas was fired in clusters at the protesters every few minutes.
Demonstrators gather behind an olive tree as nearby shots are heard. A neighbouring settlement can be seen in the distance. In the past, settlers and Palestinians coexisted; however, Israel had recently forbidden Israelis from entering Ni'lin, and Palestinians from entering Israel.
Protesters run as tear gas grenades fall and the army begins to shoot rubber bullets. Villagers have become accustomed to extreme aggression. Ten-year-old Ahmed Mousa was shot just two days earlier, on July 29, when he returned to the protest site to retrieve his shoe. He was spotted and shot in the head.
The father of 17-year-old Yousif Amira cries over his son’s body in Ramallah hospital. Amira was shot twice in the head on July 30 at close range with rubber-coated, steel bullets when he was spotted not observing a curfew in Ni'lin. A bullet remained lodged in his head, rendering him brain dead. He was declared dead in hospital on August 4.
A protester wearing the keffiyeh waves the Palestinian flag.
A man and his son look out at Israeli forces in the distance. Conflict in the olive groves (the site of the Apartheid Wall) often extends into the community, making it difficult, if not impossible, for villagers to remain uninvolved.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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