The recent clashes in the Ramallah-adjacent village of Nabi Saleh, which is the newest addition to the list of confrontation locales between Palestinians and IDF forces in the West Bank, are bolstering the position of those fighting against the separation fence.
Tuesday saw the Ofer Military Court arraign the 14 protestors arrested in the latest clash – including a 14-year-old teen, two women and a member of the Naalin village committee.
The village of Naalin, also near Ramallah, is the stage of near-weekly clashes between military forces, local residents and left-wing activists supporting them.
All detainees but one were released on their own recognizance. Another group of detainees will be arraigned on Thursday.
But while the clashed in Naalin and the West Bank village of Bilin focus on the route of the constructed fence, the riots in Nabi Saleh are of a different nature and the protests' initiators claim that as a result of their effort, security forces are now truly concerned that the violent protests may find their way to other locations in the West Bank.
The fight, said Muhammad Khatib – who is considered by many the protests' leader – "has proven itself in Bilin and Naalin and has become a model that goes beyond the boundaries of the West Bank. Thousands arrive (at the villages) to take part in our demonstrations."
Khatib, a senior Bilin councilman, added that much of the effort "is geared towards turning international pressure on Israel. Our activists have beaten Israeli propaganda with photos of them beaten and injured while being arrested during demonstrations."
Nabi Saleh clashes. Beating 'Israeli propaganda' (Photo: Reuters)
Khatib believes that "the fight will soon spread further, partially because of frustration over the political standstill, but mostly because of the settlers' badgering and the fact that the IDF does nothing to stop it."
'IDF is nervous'
Pleased with the impact the riots seem to create, Khatib told Ynet he believes that his people will be able to stir the entire area by the end of the year. "We are on the eve of an intifada," he predicted. "The resistance will spread, like it did in the (1987) Intifada, but this one will be much more creative.
"We're positive 2010 will see us beat the occupation. We see it in the fact that the Israeli military is nervous about the fact that it can't curb (the protest)."
Khatib and the anti-separation fence committee, with the help of some international groups, are also trying to promote various worldwide bans against Israel. "International groups that support us help fund detainees' legal fees. It's a prominent tool in the fight against the occupation," he said.
Israel, he continued, has hardened its policies against rioters arrested in the West Bank, and Israeli troops have become more violent. "There are nightly raids and arrests," he claimed, saying that 34 people have been arrested since last June and that since December, the IDF has carried out 16 nightly raids in Naalin alone.
Israeli Left-wing activists Yonatan Pollack, one of the struggle's leaders, who was injured in a Nabi Saleh protest, added that Israel has expanded its efforts to suppress the struggle using legal means.
"The charges against the activists are also reminiscent of what went on during the first intifada," he said.
"Instead of terror, they charge turns into incitement – and instead of membership in illegal organizations, they are now charged with illegal gatherings."