by ISM Hebron
Human Rights Workers noticed that there were settlers in the Abu Haikal orchard next to their house. Two HRWs went to the house to talk to the family and began to film. Two others began to film from our apartment. As another HRW approached the land he noticed that two police officers had already stationed themselves on the Palestinian land and were quietly observing. Then he saw several young settler women approaching from the olive groves. He photographed and filmed them as they entered the Abu Haikal property through a gap in the fence. He called over to the police officers to ask them why they were allowing settlers to trespass on Palestinian land but they refused to answer. He moved next to the house where he could film the whole gathering. Most settlers were arriving up the military stairs and past the military observation post through a gap in the fence at that end of the orchard. It now became clear why settlers had been running electric cables up to the observation post two days earlier “with all the correct permits”. They had been fixing up a powerful light so that the settlers could see the path through the fence.
About 80 settlers gathered in all, mostly quite young in their 20’s. A group of men were dressed in black. They began to pray, to chant and to sing. It was very frightening for the family as they had been given no warning that this was to happen and it was not clear how things would develop. Some of the chanting was very loud and aggressive. This huge gathering was right next to the house where the family was gathered.
Two soldiers were patrolling back and forth around the house and one of them attempted to take photos of all the Human Rights Workers and family members as they entered or left their house. Some of the family got very angry at this provocation. It seems the soldiers were trying to take revenge because HRWs often photograph them when they are misbehaving.
After about an hour the settlers with very young children left and 15 minutes later everyone left. The group of young men in black stayed the longest, singing and dancing. It was very clear that this event had been planned in advance with the authorities and had active participation by the police and army.