Nil’in is one of several villages engaged in the popular struggle—weekly demonstrations in protest of the infamous Israeli “Separation Barrier”—a 14-foot concrete wall that snakes its way down the Green Line, the alleged border between Israel and the West Bank.
In Nil’in, the Wall has cut off one third of the village’s land.
In the early days of the Wall—during the 2000s, after the Intifada as the Wall was being built—Palestinian protesters would lay their bodies down in front of each slab of concrete, until they were forcibly removed by the Israeli army. Now, protesters march from the village to the Wall, chanting, waving flags and throwing rocks, only to be greeted with rounds of teargas being fired.
At first, the gas is strangely beautiful. Iridescent blue ribbons of a smoke-like texture expand and crisscross across the sky. Then they land and explode. A toxic cloud of thick gas envelopes the hillside and sends protesters running, choking and gasping for air as tears stream down their faces and a putrid mixture of chemicals fills the air. As the smoke subsides, young boys—no more than 12 or 13 years old, barely phased by the fumes of noxious gas—are placing rocks in slingshots and swinging them, gathering momentum before launching them towards the Israeli soldiers waiting behind the wall, hoping to hit a soldier or at least send a message. At the slightest provocation, the Israeli army responds with another generous round of teargas and stun grenades until the last Palestinian child has scattered and gone home.