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Open Letter to the Israeli Military and Police

Shaul Mofaz, Outgoing Minister of Defense
Amir Peretz, Designate Minister of Defense
Dan Halutz, Israeli Forces Chief of the General Staff
Meni Mazuz, Attorney General
Yair Lotstein, Military, Legal Advisor on the Territories
Avihai Mandelblit, Military Advocate General
Ofer Mey-Tal, Israeli Military Liaison for International Organizations
Ben Artzi, Head of the Foreign Liaison Office of the Israeli National Police
Moshe Karadi, Inspector General of the Israeli Police
Gideon Ezra, Minister of Public Security
Yosef Mishlav, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories
Yair Naveh, General Officer Commanding Central Command

We call upon the Israeli Military, Police and government to immediately investigate, apprehend and prosecute violent settlers in Tel Rumeida, Hebron.

The situation in Tel Rumeida has reached a critical point. Though there have been hundreds of settler attacks since August 2005 when we first moved into Tel Rumeida, most of those were random and involved settler children and/or teenagers. Alarmingly, Tel Rumeida adult settlers are now starting to carry out carefully pre-planned violent attacks against the local Palestinian population and international volunteers who attempt to protect them from these attacks. We as Human Rights Workers (HRWs) have started to fear for our lives and the lives of the Palestinians that we attempt to protect. If the Israeli military and police do not take immediate measures to prevent settler attacks and punish offenders, then there is a grave risk that a Palestinian or HRW will be seriously injured or killed.

Israeli military and police often do not deploy sufficient personnel to areas where they know attacks regularly occur and often do not respond to calls to prevent attacks even when they are warned of imminent danger. In addition Israeli military and Police often do not act to stop settler attacks, rather they often stand and videotape the crime in progress.

Instead of preventing or stopping settler attacks, Israeli soldiers and Police often order Palestinians and HRWs to go home while settlers are attacking. HRWs have often witnessed that Israeli soldiers and Police are not able to adequately protect themselves from settler attacks. Worse, Israeli military and Police are often negligent in their duty to protect Palestinian people and property from settler attacks. Despite this, the Israeli military and Police have focused on removing HRWs from Tel Rumeida through the use of Closed Military Zone orders exclusively applied to HRWs. We have been threatened with arrest after being attacked by settlers and are regularly harassed by soldiers and police, including documented, illegal attempts to remove us from our apartment.

HRWs have on many occasions either prevented or stopped a settler attack against Palestinians. When HRWs have not been successful in preventing or stopping attacks they position themselves in front of the settlers who are threatening or beating a Palestinian and instead receive the blows or stones themselves. Palestinian families repeated tell us that they and their children feel safer when we are present.

We want to make clear that the internationals who live and/or work in Tel Rumeida are not going to leave. Though settler attacks against Palestinians and HRWs are increasing in frequency and in the level of violence, we will stand with Palestinians and their children as they defend their lives and property. The Israeli military and police must uphold Israeli and international law and protect all people and property in the Israeli controlled area of Hebron.

Therefore we demand that:

Soldiers and police should be given explicit instructions that they must act to protect all people and property while in Tel Rumeida.

Police must place sufficient forces every day in the area to prevent settler attacks against Qurtuba School children or when they have been warned of imminent danger or in other areas where attack regularly occur.

When settler attacks are imminent or occurring in their presence, soldiers and police must act immediately to prevent and stop violence. Reinforcements should be called immediately to prevent attacks from escalating and to prevent injuries. Soldiers and police should face disciplinary action or criminal investigation if they do not intervene to protect people and property against attacks.

Police must respond in a timely way when called for help.

Police must be ordered to arrest settlers even if they commit crimes on Saturdays or other Jewish holidays.

Police must document complaints at the scene of the crime.

Police must investigate the crime scene after violent incidents.

Soldiers and police should receive proper orientation of the area to which they are assigned. Soldiers and police should be informed of the relevant laws and high court decisions regarding Palestinian rights to movement in Tel Rumeida. They should also be made aware of agreements made between the Israeli military and Palestinians.

Israeli Police and military must not order Palestinians to go home when they are being attacked by settlers.


Tel Rumeida Project, International Solidarity Movement, Yesh Din, Gush Shalom and Rabbi Arik Ascherman, executive director of “Rabbis For Human Rights”