Beita: a model of resistance
In early May, 2021, Palestinian residents in the village of Beita, which sits south of Nablus, woke up to find Mount Sabih, or Jabal Sabih in Arabic, turned into a Jewish only settlement outpost. Within a matter of a few days, settlers sat up about fifty mobile houses, constructed roads and raised an Israeli flag over the stolen Palestinian land.
Promptly Palestinians in Beita started daily protests near the seized hilltop for more than three months without interruption.
The daily protests also included popular resistance activities that usually start after mid-night in what Palestinians call ‘night disturbance’ actions.
In response to the bigoted settler group calling itself the ‘Youth of the Hills’, Palestinians who lead and join in the night disturbance have chosen to call themselves the ‘Guardians of the Mountain.’
Created at the end of the 1990s for the sole aim of stealing more Palestinian land, the ‘Youth of the hills’ consists of hundreds of fanatic settlers who mainly live in illegal settlements spread across the West Bank. The group has been holding a violent campaign to intimidate Palestinians and drive them off their lands. Some of its members were responsible for the murder of three members of the Palestinian Dawabsheh family: one-year-old Ali and his parents in the village of Duma, Nablus in 2015 after setting their home on fire while they were sleeping peacefully in their home.
According to UN OCHA, since the start of 2017-2021, Palestinians were subject to about 3000 violent attacks committed by settlers, who belong to the ‘Youth of the hills.’
The group, whose motto is ‘death to the Arabs’ is also active in building settler outposts in hilly areas across the West Bank in order to, they believe, impose facts on the ground; since the end of 1990s until 2020, the group constructed about 170 settler outposts; although Palestinians succeeded in ousting some of these outposts, many have been expanded and supported either by the Israeli government or other settler organizations.
Palestinians in Beita want Mount Sabih back
For months, the protesters in Beita held night disturbance actions by using flashing horns, laser beams and by burning tires to disturb the settlers and Israeli soldiers on Mount Sabih.
Activists leading the night disturbance actions used to divide themselves into groups to enable youth to shine the flashlights and produce the disturbing noise to keep the settlers awake. Each unit is in charge of particular actions:
- The ‘Tires Unit’ is responsible for collecting and burning tires, an activity that starts in the afternoon and continues during the night in order for the protesters to move freely in the area as the dark smoke of the burned tires blocks the sight of the Israeli army and settlers on the hilltop.
- The ‘Slingshots Unit’ is in charge of keeping the Israeli soldiers at large, who shoot tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition to protect the illegal settlers.
- The ‘Media Unit’ transmits to the world what is happening on the ground during the protests.
- The ‘Anonymous Soldier Unit’ provides the protesters with first medical aids when they get injured by the Israeli army.
- The ‘Logistics Unit’ is comprised mainly of women; many are mothers of the protesters. Women provide the demonstrators with food and water to continue protesting for 24 hours.
Palestinians in Beita were inspired to do night disturbance activities by the peaceful protesters in Gaza during the Great March of Return that took place between 2018-2019. The Great March of Return are border protests in which thousands of Palestinians in Gaza tried to break the inhumane siege Israel imposes on them and return to their homes, from which they were expelled when Israel came into being in 1948.
Although the night disturbance activities have waned due to excessive Israeli violence and arrest of the protesters taking the lead in such actions, where many are still detained in Israeli jails up until now; Palestinians in Beita continue to protest weekly on Friday.