Palestine: Demonstrations Against Occupation, For Unity

In the last few years, West Bank Palestinian villages have seen their land claimed both by Jewish settlements in the West Bank and by the security wall erected by Israel. In villages such as Nabi Saleh, Bi'lin and Ni'lin, village residents have responded by holding weekly non-violent protests.

Foreign Policy reports that these protests have proven to be a difficult challenge for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) who consistently attempt to break up the protests and arrest demonstrators. The week after Hamas and Fatah inked their unity agreement was no exception.

Joseph Dana is a New York-born activist with Jewish roots who moved to Israel to pursue his Jewish heritage, and is now an activist regularly reporting on and joining protests in these West Bank villages. Dana reported on the evening of May 5, 2011:

Raids took place in Nabi Saleh last night. Unarmed demonstrations will take place tomorrow. I will be live tweeting from the ground.

The demonstrations, though, never started, preempted by IDF troop deployment:

Most of the village is still in the mosque. Soldiers have taken two houses in nabi saleh

The March 15th Palestine account also reported:

Army enforcing undeclared curfew in #Nabi Saleh. Tear-gas clouds cover the village and shot directly into houses. Caused a fire & an injury

Joseph Dana posted pictures of the tear gas clouds:

Tear Gas in Nabi Saleh, Palestine.

Tear Gas in Nabi Saleh, Palestine.

Dana reported that the wife of detained activist Bassem Tamimi was also targeted:

The soldiers beat the wife of bassem tamimi who was filming for btselem. They hit her and tried to destroy her camera in nabi saleh

Hours later, Dana indicated that soldiers were withdrawing:

Now it is finally over. With a hail of tear gas

Meanwhile, protests also ensued in the Palestinian villages of Bi'lin, Ni'lin and Masara. The official IDF Twitter account reported:

~80 violent rioters in Bi'lin, ~40 in Ni'lin hurling rocks @ security forces responding w/riot dispersal means.

The PSCC (Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee) told it differently:

Soldiers arrested a 15 year-old during the demo in Bil'in. Still enforcing undeclared curfew in Nabi Saleh

And demonstrations also occured to Ni'lin:

Protesters banging on the metal gate in Ni'ilin demanding to access their lands. Soldiers shooting tear-gas

In Masara, protests ended with the arrest of the villages mayor. B Sez tweeted:

Mahmoud Zwahre, Arrested At Weekly Protest Against The Wall At Al Masara #Palestine #Israel

Demonstrators also gathered in the Manara Square of Ramallah to celebrate this week's unity deal between rival factions Hamas and Fatah. The year after Hamas won elections in Gaza in 2006, it expelled Fatah from Gaza, and the two groups have had little interaction since. Beginning March 15, protesters in both Gaza, controlled by Hamas, and in the West Bank, controlled by Fatah, began demonstrating to demand national unity. Earlier in the week, Gaza celebrated the unity deal. The May 6th Ramallah demonstration was a continuation of Palestinian celebrations of the success of the March 15th movement and Palestinian unity.

Jalal, who describes himself as a Palestinian living between Jerusalem and Ramullah, saw the beginning of the demonstrations, which began with pro-Hamas supporters, and was later joined by Fatah and March 15th movement demonstrators. He tweeted:

Couple hundred hamas supporters in #ramallah waiting to be joined by their Fatah brothers

Jalal continued live from Manara Square:

Green and yellow banners raised in Ramallah now, but most importantly Palestinian national flags all over Manara! #herak #mar15

Jalal posted numerous pictures of the March 15th demonstrators:

March 15th Movement Demonstrators in Ramallah.

March 15th Movement Demonstrators in Ramallah.

Demonstrators were in Manara not just to celebrate, but also to press for transparent elections. Ashira Ramadan tweeted:

In #Ramallah now for the unity celebration and to call for fair direct PNC elections #Palestine #mar15

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