Thursday, January 21, 2021

The people of Silwad and Deir Jarir resist land theft

By John Space - May 11, 2013
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [protests] [settler violence] [] [Silwad] [Deir Jarir] [outposts]

Photo by John Space.

A new settlement sprung up two months ago between the West Bank villages of Deir Jarir and Silwad, and the people of the villages have made it clear they are not going to accept it quietly. 

The new settlement is an 'outpost' settlement, meaning it is unrecognized and illegal even under Israeli law. 

The settlers have called the outpost Nezah Benjamin and the gun-toting extremists who live there refer to themselves as 'Hilltop Youth.' The name alludes to the fact that, as they commonly do, the settlers have seized the high ground, giving them a good position from which to launch attacks on Silwad and Deir Jarir. Since the establishment of the outpost, at least ten vehicles belonging to the residents of Silwad and Deir Jarir have been burned by settlers.

Furthermore, at least two people, including a child, have been hospitalized as a result of settler attacks. 

On Friday, April 26, the villages of Silwad and Deir Jarir held their first joint protest. A second demonstration on May 3rd signaled that the demonstrations will continue every Friday until the injustice of land theft in the villages ceases. 

According to an activist who was present, settlers fired live ammunition at demonstrators on April 26

On May 3rd, around 500 demonstrators marched to fields outside Deir Jarir, facing the illegal Nezah Benjamin settlement. In addition to the new outpost, the long-established illegal settlement of Ofra. Ofra, like all settlements, began as an outpost but was retroactively legitimized by the Israeli government in 2011. 

Demonstrators held noon prayers in the field before attempting to replant olive trees burned by settlers the night before. They were unable to replant the trees because the demonstration was forcibly dispersed by Israeli soldiers immediately following the prayer. A smaller group of demonstrators moved to Silwad and attempted to march to the road leading to Ofra, but were again met with extreme violence from Israeli security forces. 

Both joint demonstrations have faced extreme repression by Israeli security forces firing rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. According to an activist who was present, settlers fired live ammunition at demonstrators on April 26.

On May 3rd, Israeli soldiers shot Irish activist Tommy Donnellan with three rubber-coated steel bullets. Donnellan was alone and had clearly identified himself as press when the soldiers shot him at point-blank range. Donnellan, who was briefly hospitalized as a result of the shooting, was targeted in an attempt to silence press coverage and prevent images of demonstrations from reaching a wider audience. In a video taken by Donnellan, it's obvious that he was shot on purpose.

Samer, a demonstrator from Silwad, said the demonstrations are aimed at regaining land lost to the settlements and stopping attacks by Israeli soldiers.

"A group of settlers took our land there," he said, pointing at a spot of land now occupied by the outpost. "There is our land. They took about 36 dunums. We want it back."


Photo by John Space.


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