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Home > News & Analysis > Fact Sheets
Backgrounder on Ni'lin, land loss, and the wall
IMEU, Aug 11, 2008

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad means with the bereaved father of a youth killed by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against the separation barrier in Ni'lin. (Maan Images)

The Palestinian village of Ni'lin (also spelled "Naalin") is located 17 km (10.5 miles) west of Ramallah in the central West Bank. It consists of approximately 3,650 acres of land, the majority of which is used for agriculture. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics its population was 4,750 in mid-2006, with the majority of Ni'lin's inhabitants working in agriculture and general commerce.

Since Israel's conquest and occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Ni'lin has lost over 13% of its land to the construction of the Israeli settlements of Shilat, Mattiyahu, Hashmon'im, Lapid, and Modi'in Illit - all built on occupied territory in contravention of international law.

Construction of Israel's separation barrier on portions of the village's land, which began in 2004 and accelerated earlier this year, once complete, will further endanger the village's livelihood by confiscating an additional 26.5% of the village's total land area - leaving nearly 40% of Ni'lin's land on the Israeli side of the barrier.


In May of 2008, as Israel continued to push ahead with construction of the barrier on land belonging to Ni'lin, residents formed the Ni'lin Popular Committee Against the Wall, a movement to resist expropriation of the village's land. Organizers from the highly publicized and successful anti-wall campaign in the nearby village of Bil'in were brought in to provide training and advice to the committee.

For the past three months, the residents of Ni'lin have been carrying out demonstrations against the construction of the barrier, often joined by Israeli and international activists.

The Israeli army's response to the protests has been strongly criticized by activists and human rights organizations, especially after the July 20 release by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem of video footage showing a soldier shooting a bound and blindfolded Palestinian demonstrator at close range and the deaths of two Palestinian youths from the village by Israeli army fire in the last week of July.


  • May-June: Residents of Ni'lin begin a series of weekly protests against construction of Israel's separation barrier on the village's land, and are joined by Israeli and international activists. Israeli security forces use riot dispersal means, and several protesters are detained and arrested.

  • 6 June: Third World Coalition delegates traveling with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning American Friends Service Committee based in Philadelphia are tear gassed while witnessing, participating in and filming non-violent demonstrations in Ni'lin.

  • 4-8 July: The Israeli army imposes four-day, 24-hour curfew on Ni'lin, during which the entire village is sealed, businesses are forced to close and military searches of houses are carried out.

  • 13 July: The Palestinian Authority transfers over $100,000 to the Ni'lin village council for damages incurred during the 4-day curfew and incursions by the Israeli military.

  • 20 July: Israeli human rights group B'Tselem releases video footage dated July 7, showing an Israeli soldier firing at close range at a bound and blindfolded Palestinian man detained while participating in a demonstration in Ni'lin. View the video here.

  • 23 July: Women's demonstration against the barrier takes place in Ni'lin. Israeli soldiers fire tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, and a 23-year-old Canadian national, Victor MacDiarmid, is arrested, detained, and subsequently deported after photographing the event. Jamal Hussein Amirra, 50, father of the 14-year old girl who filmed an Israeli soldier firing on a bound Palestinian, is also arrested and subsequently sentenced to 100 days in detention.

  • 29 July: Ahmed Mousa, 11, is shot and killed by live fire during a demonstration in Ni'lin. An autopsy showed that the boy was hit by a live round from an M-16 assault rifle. Ten others are wounded by live fire.

  • 30 July: Clashes break out after the funeral of Ahmed Mousa. Israeli soldiers fire tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians, and an 18-year-old Palestinian, Youssef Amira, is wounded in the head and falls into a coma.

  • 30 July: Israeli press reveals that commander seen in July 7 shooting video failed lie detector test when denying he ordered soldier to shoot bound Palestinian.

  • 4 August: Youssef Amira dies of his wounds at a hospital in Ramallah.

  • 5 August: Israeli security forces fire tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades at the funeral procession of Youssef Amira, wounding one Palestinian.

  • 8 August: Israeli commander and soldier involved in videotaped shooting incident are charged with "unworthy conduct" and re-assigned to new posts within the army. Israeli human rights organizations call the decision a "disgrace" and accuse the military of treating the case as "a public image problem and not a moral issue."

  • 10 August: Israeli press reports that the army has begun using a new crowd dispersal method, called "Skunk bombs," on demonstrators in Ni'lin. The method involves spraying large quantities of a foul-smelling liquid at crowds, forcing them to disperse.

  • 14 August: Ibrahim Amira, a leader of the anti-barrier movement in Ni'lin and unofficial media spokesman for the village, is arrested during the early hours of the morning from his home by Israeli forces for the second time in a month. Read more here.

  • 17 August: An Israeli military court orders the release of Salaam Amira, due to lack of evidence. Amira's attorney claims the decision proves his arrest was an act of vengeance against the 53-year-old father of the girl who filmed an Israeli soldier firing on a blindfolded and bound Palestinian man in July.

  • 21 August: Israeli daily Ha'aretz reports that nine Palestinians are injured during demonstrations against the barrier in Ni'lin, and Palestinian sources tell Yediot Aharonot that a protestor moderately injured after being beaten by Israeli soldiers.

  • 21 August: An Israeli military court extends the detention of Ni'lin anti-barrier movement leader Ibrahim Amira by eight days.


If completed along its planned route, the separation barrier will run a length of 8.7 km (5.4 miles) through Ni'lin's land, confiscating 39.8% of the villages total area and incorporating settlements built illegally on the village's land into Israel.

In addition to the 13.3% of Ni'lin's land (485 acres) already confiscated for the construction of illegal Israeli settlements since 1967, the wall will further confiscate another 3920 dunams (967 acres), presumably for the expansion of the settlements of Hashmon'im, Lapid, Mattiyahu, Modi'in Illit, and Shilat.

Land Loss in Ni'lin

  • 1948 - 15898 dunams (3928 acres)

  • 1949-1967 - 14794 dunams (3656 acres)

  • 2002 - 12831 dunams (3170 acres)

  • post-Barrier - 6948 dunams (1717 acres)1

1 Figure based on land loss if the barrier is completed along the currently planned route. Special thanks to the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem.

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