In the past weeks, the village of Niâlin has been a site of active struggle against the latest Occupation land grab. Frequent protests and confrontations between villagers and Occupation soldiers have occurred on the site where bulldozers are razing land to build the latest segment of the Wall. This new section will isolate 2,500 dunums of agricultural land from Niâlin.
***image2***The Palestinians of Niâlin have been actively resisting this latest annexation scheme. The Popular Committee has mobilized both residents in neighbouring villages as well as international activists, organizing a number of actions against the ongoing construction of the Wall. Weekly Friday protests as well as other actions during the week have slowed construction and brought considerable attention to the local struggle.
The actions against the construction have been met by force. Scores of people have been injured and arrested by Occupation forces. Bulldozers have uprooted a number of olive trees, while fires started by tear gas canisters have burnt others.
Occupation violence culminated on (30 May) Friday, with a large-scale invasion of the village of Niâlin. Around four-dozen military jeeps entered the heart of village around 9:30 in the morning and imposed a curfew on the residents. Occupation forces fired rubber bullets on villagers, closed shops and forced people to stay in their homes. Those able to participate in the Friday protest marched to the threatened land, but were attacked by soldiers and prevented from reaching the bulldozers.
***image3***The heavy-handed measures of the Occupation have failed to break the resolve of Niâlin, and the strength of the local solidarity between Niâlin and the surrounding villages continues to grow. Residents of nearby al-Midya and other villages have been active in the struggle. Last Tuesday, for example, people in villages around Niâlin closed their shops and joined in the protest.
Niâlin is located west of Ramallah near the Green Line. Until 1948, villagers owned 58,000 dunums of land, which stretched as far as Ramle and Lod. After the Nakba, 40,000 dunums of this land was annexed. Following the 1967 occupation, the colonies of Kiryat Sefer, Mattityahu and Maccabim were built on village lands. In addition, new roads were created for the ever-expanding settlements of Nili and Naâale. Together, these settlements and their associated infrastructure claimed another 8,000 dunums of Niâlinâs land.
These confiscations left Niâlin with just 10,000 of its original 58,000 dunums of land. The current construction of the Wall on the western side of the village, and a military base on the southern side will strip Niâlin of a further 2,500 dunums. This current confiscation must be seen with the context of the ghettoization project, as Niâlin will be isolated from the rest of the West Bank, with its main entrance being a tunnel running under the segregated settler-only road. Not only will this involve the confiscation of a further 200 dunums, but it will also effectively give the Occupation military full control over movement in and out of the area.