FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Youth from the Tel Rumeida settlement spat on, beat, assaulted, and stoned human rights workers from Canada, Denmark and Sweden yesterday (May 27, 2006). In three separate attacks on internationals and Palestinians the kids were encouraged by adults of the religious extremist Jewish community. Israeli soldiers and police refused to do anything to stop the violence. These attacks occur almost daily in Hebron but on Shabbat they are more frequent and in the last few weeks have become more violent, sending more than two internationals to the hospital.
Yesterday afternoon, on Shuhada Street in the H2 area of Hebron, Jewish Canadian human rights workers Peter Trainor, of Toronto, and Canadian Chris Johnston were filming settlers throwing stones at the Palestinian Qurtuba Girls School. Two women, about 18 years of age, then tried unsuccessfully to rip Peter’s video camera out of his hands. About 10 boys, aged between 8 and 18, threw stones as well as kicking and hitting them. The soldier posted nearby, who was just a few meters away, did nothing to stop the stone throwing despite Peter’s calls for help. Instead he left the scene completely. An adult settler with an assault rifle approached and encouraged the children to keep stoning them.
At about the same time, Danish human rights worker BJ Lund was harassed and spat on at the top of Shuhada Street. The soldiers watched the event and agreed that it wasn’t OK, but when BJ asked why they had not intervened, they gave no answer.
Later that day Anna Svenson from Sweden, Chris, and Peter were attacked by a group of about ten male youth between the ages of 8-15 as they walked down Shuhada Street. The youth spat on them, hit Anna in the face, and taunted the soldiers who reprimanded the youth for spitting. A group of soldiers stood between the internationals and the youth, but the youth just threw the stones over their heads. When the police arrived, they threatened to arrest Anna and Peter if they didn’t leave the area.
Human rights workers are stationed in Hebron to make sure that Palestinian children are safe as they go to and from school past the Tel Rumeida settlement. The settlers regularly throw rocks at the children as they walk past and have told soldiers to put razor wire across the beginning of a path that leads to Palestinian homes. The children have to move the wire out of the way every day. There is an Israeli Supreme Court order that allows the children to use this path but soldiers on duty nearby rarely know this and often refuse to help the children get home safely.
Tel Rumeida is a Palestinian neighborhood in the center of Hebron that the most violent and extremist elements of the Israeli settler movement occupy. Soldiers tell the human rights workers that they feel there is nothing they can do to stop the children from throwing stones or hitting the international volunteers. In an article of the Jerusalem Post on Jan 16th, a senior Hebron Police officer Dep.-Cmdr., Shlomo Efrati, explained their lack of power in the area. “[The police] have been suffering from the settlers for years. The government needs to decide to fortify the police and army in Hebron on a permanent basis since even if we evacuate them they will just go back and take over new homes. It is up to the government to decide if it wants this minority to continue running the city or not.”
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ISM Media Office: 02 297 1824