“All the honor to the army, you are the best, we love you.”
A man with a small yellow car had parked on the side of the 465 in the blazing sun and was shouting encouragement at a squad of soldiers standing in a field below the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh. A week ago a video of a soldier attempt to detain 12-year old Mohammad Tamimi went viral when the soldier was pounced on by female relatives of the boy.
This Friday the army and the Israeli Jewish civilians seemed determined that the scene would not be repeated.
Hundreds of Israelis, mostly from communities like nearby Halamish in the central West Bank, gathered to show support for the army.
They carried Israeli flags and danced in circles.
Some handed out popsicles and ice cream to the platoon of IDF and Border Police who had gathered to prevent Palestinians stoning the road.
The army stayed relatively close to the road and used tear gas canisters to keep the Palestinian activists away; the commanders did not seem inclined to order the soldiers to chase after stone throwers.
After brief clashes at the entrance of Nabi Saleh, which overlooks the 465, some Palestinians, waving flags and carrying slings to throw stones, tried to make their way toward the road.
The IDF and Border police were dispatched several times into the rocky hills to fire tear gas and keep the activists back.
For a while Israeli activists and Palestinians traded curses from 100 meters, as the army remained in the middle. MK Oren Hazan even showed up to show support.
By three in the afternoon the situation seemed to have died down.