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Collective Punishment Fails to Break Popular Non-Violent Struggle Against the Wall

Saturday 5 July 2008, by Mustafa Barghouthi

“Collective punishment aimed at breaking the popular, non-violent struggle against the Wall,” was how PNI Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, today described the ongoing closure by the Israeli military of Ni’lin village, where peaceful demonstrations against construction of the Wall have been taking place since May.

The Israeli military declared Ni’lin a closed military zone at 05:00 on Friday morning, blocking the three entrances to the village and enforcing a curfew. All entry to, and exit from the village has been prevented since then.

“This is a blatant attempt to prevent the weekly non-violent protest against the Wall on Fridays,” said Dr. Barghouthi.

Villagers defied the curfew however, by marching en masse to one of the roadblocks. Some 600 villages – men, women and children - together with 15 international and Israeli supporters, who managed to enter the village through the fields, participated.

The demonstration was met with predictable violence by the Israeli military, and 24 people were injured by rubber-coated bullets, live ammunition and tear gas. Three homes were also hit by tear gas and had their windows smashed. Four Israeli activists and one journalist were arrested.

In addition to stopping workers from reaching their workplaces outside the village, the roadblock also prevented ambulances from crossing. Sixty-five-year-old Fayqa Hussni Khawaja was in need of hospital treatment, but was denied permission to pass by Israeli soldiers.

Dr. Barghouthi urgently called for international pressure on the Israeli government and its military to end the curfew.

The lands of Ni’lin amounted to some 58,000 dunums in 1948 and stretched as far as the towns of Ramle and Lod, which now lie inside Israel. Following the Nakba of 1948, 40,000 dunums of this land were annexed to the newly-created Israeli state. Since 1982, the construction of the illegal Israeli settlements of Nili and Nala have eaten up a further 8,000 dunums of land belonging to the village.

Now, an additional 2,500 dunums are being confiscated from villagers to build the Apartheid Wall. When completed, the Wall, the encroaching settlements and the closure of the main entrance to the village will totally isolate the Palestinian villages of Ni’lin, Mediya, Shukba, Shabteen and Budrus. Residents will be forced to exit and enter their villages via one strictly controlled access tunnel, severely impeding their access to their lands, and to workplaces, places of study, and health services in Ramallah.

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