171220free ahed tamimiHundreds of Palestinians and Israelis marched in the occupied West Bank village on Nabi Saleh on Saturday, January 14, to demand that Israel free the Tamimi family women, 16-year-old Ahed and her mother Nariman, as well as other members of the popular resistance committees who have been arrested by Israeli soldiers over the past several weeks.

Israeli forces blocked the main entrance to the village early in the morning and declared the area a closed military zone, but some activists managed to reach Nabi Saleh via other routes. The demonstrators gathered in the center of the village and began to march, at first led by a line of women to represent the strong female leadership of the popular struggle in the village. As the march continued, however, a group of men eventually passed the front line of women—perhaps no less symbolic.

Despite the villages being declared a closed military zone, Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) was allowed to enter the village because of his parliamentary privilege. In addition to the residents of Nabi Saleh, the demonstrators included Odeh; Palestinian Legislative Council member Mustafa Barghouti; former Hadash MK Mohammad Barakeh, chairman of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel; and Luisa Morgentini, a former member of the European Parliament from the Italian Partito della Rifondazione Comunista. Activists from the popular resistance committees of Al-Masara, Kadum, Hebron, Bil’in, Nil’lin, and other cities and towns across the West Bank also joined the protest.

“I came to Nabi Saleh today to join the residents in their call for the release of Ahed and Nariman Tamimi, the heroines who have struggled against the cruel occupation with their bare hands,” MK Odeh said. “I was happy to see a large group of Jewish Israelis here, who recognize that a nation that oppresses another nation cannot be free, and that the struggle to end the occupation is the highest shared interest of both nations… The small village of Nabi Saleh has become a symbol of the Palestinian people through the public struggle in which men and women participate and men and women are detained,” he added. “This is a just struggle against the criminal occupation. These demonstrations will continue and not end until the occupation does.”

As the speeches went on, a number of Palestinian youths engaged in small skirmishes with the soldiers guarding the village spring. The soldiers fired tear gas at the youths, and at the rally, which was a considerable distance away. Following the barrage of tear gas, the demonstrators retreated into the village, where they regrouped.

Meanwhile, footage from Saturday documented a group of masked settlers in the occupied West Bank destroying about 100 olive trees near the Palestinian village of Huwara south of Nablus. The video shows the group of men arriving from the direction of the Yitzhar settlement; Israeli security forces that were in the area did not stop them. A Yesh Din researcher said he documented a group of about 50 settlers who had come down on Saturday from Yitzhar to the nearby Palestinian town of Huwara and damaged the olive trees belonging to the town’s residents. According to Yesh Din, soldiers that arrived at the scene did not try to prevent the vandalism

A short while after the incident, around 40 settlers arrived at the Palestinian village of Urif, throwing stones and setting fire to a tractor. A group of Palestinians threw stones at the settlers in response.

In another incident, about 100 settlers reportedly vandalized a Palestinian house in a village near Ramallah. Investigation by the Israeli military revealed that the house was in fact damaged and clashes broke out between the settlers and Palestinians in the area. Security forces dispersed the rioters and no arrests were made.

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Communist Party of Israel