Two video clips released from last Friday’s demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh expose soldiers’ attacks on non-violent protestors and press.
The shorter of the two clips, 20 seconds long, was aired Sunday night on Israeli Channel 10’s “Night Tube” (Tsinor Laila) show, and was shot by photographer Mati Milstein, who rarely shoots video, but was lucky enough to catch this scene. It shows a group of people standing by the side of a road as a police jeep flies by. Then – for no apparent reason – a tear gas grenade is tossed from the jeep at the small group, which runs away, except for one youth who tries to kick the grenade away.
“This clip was shot after the first round of confrontations between villagers/demonstrators and the army has already ended,” Milstein told +972. “A small group of some 20 people, mainly women and old people, returned from the ‘front’ to rest and had a talk and a smoke near a house off a side road in Nabi Saleh. There was absolutely no violence anywhere around this particular location, but Border Police jeeps did keep patrolling all parts of the village. In one of these rounds the jeep commander decided to toss out a gas grenade for no apparent reason.”
In response to Milstein’s claims, the Border Police spokesperson said that there were stone throwers near the house in question, who can be seen in Milstein’s clip. To this the photographer responds that no stone throwers even actually appear in the clip. “If there were any stone throwers at this location – and there weren’t – surely the Border Police officers would get out of the jeep, aim at them and/or try to arrest them. However, given the speed of their vehicle and the casual manner with which they operated, it is clear that the officers in the jeep had not identified and were likewise not aiming at any stone throwers.”
A second, longer clip, shot by Israeli artist David Reeb, shows how this dynamic is typical of the army’s treatment of the demonstrations in the village. In the beginning, one can see how demonstrators proceed on the main road of the village towards lands expropriated by the nearby settlement of Halamish. As the chanting protestors near the soldiers, a bunch of stun and tear gas grenades are thrown at them, and soldiers dash forward to arrest one activist. Shortly after, Border Police officers climb the small cliff from where media teams are standing, including Reeb himself, and are seen shoving cameramen, and eventually informing Reed and another photographer that they are being detained (the two were later released). The rest of the video shows bits and pieces from the next few hours, during which soldiers enter the village and use tear gas, “skunk” water cannons and rubber bullets against demonstrators.
Further reading on Nabi Saleh: