Every Friday, the residents of the small village of Nabi Saleh, in the West Bank, protest against Israeli rule. And every week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) try to force them to stay home. A striking new video has emerged that shows – up close and in detail – the clashes that ensue, week after week.
These demonstrations take place every week across the West Bank, however, protests in the small village of Nabi Shaleh are notorious for drawing an especially violent reaction from the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Residents of the village were the first to start demonstrating against the development of nearby Jewish settlements in December 2009, and since then, Nabi Saleh has remained the epicentre of Friday protests.

Video published on Press Tamimi.

The video above, filmed on Friday March 9, shows an IDF truck rolling through the village, spraying the dreaded “skunk” (starting at 3 minutes 32), a chemical sewage concoction that is designed make its targets smell awful for up to three days. It also shows Palestinian locals throwing rocks at the vehicle. Later in the video, starting at 8 minutes 59, a border police guard tells a group of women and children to go indoors. They respond with jeers and shouts, but remain in their front yard. Moments later, the security forces throw tear gas and sound bombs toward the yard where the women and children had stood moments before. Because of the angle of the video, it is not clear whether they were still in the yard at that point.

"They want everyone to stay in their homes and not protest"

Bilal Tamimi, who filmed this video, belongs to the largest family in Nabi Saleh. He is related to Mustafa Tamimi, who was killed in December 2011 after being shot in the head with a tear gas canister at close range. Since then, the citizens of Nabi Saleh have become weary of these allegedly non-lethal dispersal methods.
I was able to film the IDF from up close for a few fleeting moments, simply because at those moments they were so engrossed in shooting tear gas and retaliating against those throwing stones at them. Still, it’s risky – that same day I saw a journalist being carried away after he was injured whilst filming.
Towards the end of my video, women and children are standing outside a house. This house was filled with international visitors and Israelis sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. They were hiding there because they were scared of getting arrested for being at the protest. [It is illegal for international visitors, including journalists who haven’t been able to obtain Israeli press cards, to be present at the West Bank protests, although many still attend.] The IDF usually asks journalists to stay behind their jeeps, but they can’t see anything from there. They want everyone to stay in their homes and not protest – they don’t even want you to stand near the door of your own house. That’s enough to get you tear-gassed, and even if there’s gas inside your house, they try to make you go back inside.”
FRANCE 24 asked the IDF for a response to the activities shown in the video, specifically the spraying of “skunk” onto houses and the use of tear gas on women and children. An official spokesperson responded with the following statement:
The Israeli security forces are charged with dispersing illegal and violent demonstrations and with the preservation of the public peace in the Judea and Samaria region. Non-lethal crowd control means have been developed to contain these riots while minimizing the risks to the rioters. Last Friday, on March 9, 2012, the dispersal of a violent demonstration demanded the entrance of military vehicles into a residential area. Non-lethal riot control means were used against stone throwers, whose activity endangered the security forces.”
Post written with freelance journalist Ruth Michaelson.