by ISM Hebron
At approximately 6:15 PM today, I was sitting on Shuhada street with another Human Rights Worker (HRW) and we noticed some settler kids throwing rocks at Palestinians in front of the Beit Hadassah settlement. My fellow HRW went to investigate and I kept my eye on him as I saw the notorious Anat Cohen approaching. She began yelling at him in Hebrew and yelling at the soldier on duty to stop him. The soldier approached the HRW and demanded that he leave, saying he was not allowed in the area and was not allowed to film the scene – two claims that are completely contrary to Israeli law. As three settler children were continuing to throw rocks at Palestinians on the path above, the HRW continued to try to film them. I walked over as Anat began to physically block my friend’s way.
Ms. Cohen began yelling something about Auschwitz to us in Hebrew, and the soldier continued to insist that we could not be filming. Ms. Cohen put her arms up in front of my friend, waving them in his face. I told her to knock it off, that we were allowed to be there and allowed to film. Then she kicked me in the leg.
At this point more soldiers had showed up and began yelling at US and I decided it was time to call the police.
They came very quickly this time.. one of the soldiers must have called them as well.
After explaining to a commander what we were doing there (filming and intervening when settlers throw rocks at Palestinians), the commander told us that Palestinians were not allowed to walk along this street except when they were going to school, which was out for the summer. I informed him that was absolutely false, they were allowed here. He argued with me some more and then I decided it was time to call our nice friend Hamad at UN OCHA. He advised me to file a police report at the Kiryat Arba police station and I informed my friends this was where I was going.
I was pretty angry at this point and I walked up to Ms. Cohen and informed her that I was going to the police to file a complaint against her for kicking me.
This was where our trouble began and I realized that I had made a mistake.
As I got into the back of the police jeep, Anat told a police officer that my fellow human rights worker assaulted her.
He was told to get in the back of the jeep too. The police officer informed us that the soldier on duty was backing Ms. Cohen up.
We both went to the police station where we would spend the next 3 hours.
I gave my testimony, my friend gave his, then the soldier gave his.
While we were waiting and worrying that my friend was going to get arrested, our other friends back in Tel Rumeida said they spoke to a soldier who had seen everything, knew we hadn’t done anything wrong but was too scared to come forward in our defense.
Fortunately for us, Ms. Cohen’s reputation as a nutcase was widely known and the police let my friend go.