By Mary, a 75 year-old ISM volunteer in Tel Rumeida
Shabbat, new soldiers and violent settlers make a very unpleasant day.
At 11am, I was at the Tel Rumeida crossing waiting for children to come from the Qurduba school. The Palestinian Abu Aeshah girls, who live near the Israeli Tel Rumeida settlement came. I accompanied them towards the settlement. The soldier outside the settlement told me to stop and go back. I said that I would go back if he would watch the girls to their house. There were Israeli settler children outside. They often attack the Palestinian children. The soldier seemed more interested in watching me than the children and did not help.
At 11.15am the Al Azzeh children arrived. They walk along a track next to the settlement. There were settler children at the entrance to the settlement, so an EAPPI human rights worker walked up to the track with them. The settler children started to throw stones at the Palestinian children so other EAPPI human rights workers and I went up too to stand between the Palestinians and the stones. The soldiers tried to push the children back to the crossing for safety instead of controlling about 8 settler children, who were throwing stones. I came between the soldier and 14 year old Janette. It is not right that an eighteen year old soldier should be standing with his body so close to a young girl, who is already under attack. More soldiers came but the stone throwing continued further along the track and the Palestinian children were not able to pass. Three TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron) workers arrived to observe the incident. Finally the police were called and came quickly. They were able to control the situation and the children were able to reach their homes.
I told the police and soldiers that there would be other children needing to pass from 12.30 to 1.30pm. The police said that the soldiers would look after this and that they would be patrolling. TIPH agreed to stay until all the children were home.
At 12.35pm, one of the Abu Aeshah boys arrived. I walked with him up towards the settlement. There were now two soldiers on duty outside the Tel Rumeida settlement. They would not let me pass and were watching me instead of the Palestinian boy. I finally convinced one of them to look the other way. The boy got home safely but Israeli settler children were beginning to come to the entrance of the settlement and waiting.
At 1.00pm, Samir Abu Aeshah arrived. I walked with him towards the settlement followed by another international with a camera. Israeli settler children came out of the settlement. Girls came right up to us abusing and yelling at us. Twenty young settler boys threw stones at us. I was hit several times. There were eight soldiers who pushed us back towards the crossing. They did not stop the stone throwing and tried to stop any filming. Samir Abu Aeshah ran to hide in his uncle’s house. Another six soldiers arrived and attacked our person who was filming. They also attacked a woman from TIPH, who was taking photos. Israel recognizes TIPH and they are allowed film anywhere. I was being hit by stones. As a soldier was telling me to go back, settler boys were coming round behind me and throwing large rocks at my back. I was then hit on the head with a rock. Settler children were now nearly to the crossing and still attacking and I was outside my house.
I called the DCO, saying that I had been hit with 12 stones and rocks and had been hit on the head. The woman on the line agreed with me that this should not happen. Another army jeep arrived. There were now twenty soldiers, about twenty violent young settler boys, ten abusive settler girls and many settler adults including Sara Marzel (wife of Baruch Marzell, founder of the ultra-extremist Chayil Party (Jewish National Front) ). Some of the soldiers started grabbing the boys who resisted and kept throwing stones. The girls kept coming right up to me and abusing me. The settler adults watched and did nothing to help or control their children. I called the police. When they came they were able to control the situation but there was still no way to get Samir Abu Aeshah home.
Some of the Israeli settler children and adults walked to the Jewish cemetery followed by an army jeep. I went in the Israeli police jeep to make a complaint. Sometime later, Samir came out of hiding and walked home by himself, with no support from the soldiers.