This Friday more than 250 protesters gathered under the olive trees in the outskirts of Ni'lin. As usual the Friday prayer was held in the field as a way to challenge the occupation and the rules imposed on the people of Nilin by the Israeli military.
The protest started with a very strong speech, held by Murad Amireh, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners, particularly the prisoners from Ni'lin. As an example he mentioned Shukri Alkhawaja, 42 years old, who has been kept in an underground isolation cell for 411 days.
Shukri Alkhawaja was kept in Israeli military jail for 13 years between 1992 and 2005. Five of these years he spent in administrative detention without any formal charges. Shukri was arrested again on the 27th of December 2013 and was not allowed to receive visits from his wife and family. He was put into isolation because he refused to shake hands with a commander of the Israeli secret service, Shin bet. The commander told him that he would remain in isolation "until you die as a pig" and that he will only leave isolation to go to his grave.
As the demonstration started to move enormous crowds had gathered, chanting the slogan "No to the isolation of Shukri". The demonstration was soon met by several military jeeps carrying tear gas cannons. The jeeps fired volleys of tear gas towards the protesters incessantly and the hot canisters soon started several fires in the dry fields. Dozens of protesters suffered from tear gas inhalation.
This weeks protest was also met by more soldiers than usual, using rubber coated steel bullet and snipers to set traps for the protesters in hopes of making arrests. In total seven protesters were injured by rubber coated steel bullets, but no arrests were made.
The soldiers tried to push the demonstration back towards the village but the protesters fought back and managed to close all streets leading into the village using big rocks. As the military jeeps couldn't enter the village the soldiers instead chose to invade on foot but were met by resistance from Ni'lin youths.
The protest kept on until 03.30 PM and luckily no severe injuries or arrests were reported.
The protesters and the Ni'lin popular committee are calling for all human rights organizations to help us get Shukri Alkhawaja out of his isolation. Shukri is suffering with serious health problems in his extended isolation. He is currently the only prisoner to be isolated by the decision of the Israeli secret service, a decision usually taken by the prison security or court.