Translation from original Hebrew by Rann Bar-on.
Tove Liljeholm, a 19-year old woman from Sweden, was attacked by settlers in Hebron, who threw a bottle at her while she was assisting Palestinian children. “Afterwards, they laughed”
“I felt a powerful blow to my head, fell to the ground and noticed that my head was covered in blood” – said Tove Liljeholm, a 19-year old Swedish activist in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who was injured two days ago by a bottle thrown at her by settlers in Tel Rumeida in Hebron. According to her, the settlers shouted to her and her friends “we killed Jesus, we’ll kill you too” and clapped after she was injured.
Liljeholm and four of her friends, all international solidarity activists, arrived two days ago at the checkpoint at the entrance to the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron, in order to accompany Palestinian children to their homes. When they passed from the Palestinian side to the Israeli side, they encountered a group of settlers who ‘welcomed’ them with shouts, curses and spitting. Among other things, the settlers shouted “we killed Jesus, we’ll kill you too.”
Liljeholm says that at a certain stage the settlers moved from verbal to physical violence. “One of them kicked at us and suddenly I felt a powerful blow to my head,” she said. “I fell down and noticed that my head was covered with blood. Only later was I told that it was a bottle that hit my head.”
According to her, after she was hit in the head, the settlers started to laugh, clap and whooped with joy. One of the settlers, a doctor by profession, even refused to help her. In the end, she was evacuated to the Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem, where a doctor diagnosed a broken cheekbone and an additional fracture near her eye.
“Hoping to Return to Hebron Soon”
The international activists said after the incident that while it was going on, policemen and soldiers did nothing to stop the settlers, and that only after Liljeholm fell to the ground did they stop the attackers. According to [the activists], they did not detain any of the settlers for questioning and moreover, they threatened the international activists with arrest if they did not leave the area immediately.
Despite the difficult experience, Liljeholm promises to continue to work with ISM or in other capacities to help the Palestinian people. “Of course I’m afraid and angry at the settlers, but I think that those living in terrible conditions need to be helped, especially after seeing how violent the settlers can be,” she said. “I hope to return to Hebron, but I don’t think it’ll happen soon.”
The Judea and Samaria police responded that they reject the charges left-wing groups have put forward regarding the treatment of Liljeholm’s assault. The police stated that during this past sabbath, a large contingent of police were present in Hebron, who patrolled the areas of friction and prevented conflict between Palestinians and settlers. The police requested that left-wing activists do not stay in the area, in order to prevent conflicts.
After receiving the complaint regarding the assault, the police said that their investigators gathered testimonies in the area, and that a police force searched for suspects in the assault. Likewise, they detained a number of suspects, but that during investigation they were not identified by the witnesses and were not connected to the event. At the same time, testimony was taken from a tourist. The police say that after her recovery, Liljeholm is welcome to contact the Hebron police, who will present her with pictures of suspects, so that they can be identified and tried.
“End the Barbaric Behavior”
Following the assault on Liljeholm, the chairman of Balad [one of the Arab parties in the Knesset], Azmi Bishara, wrote a letter to the Minister of Defence, Amir Peretz, requesting him to put an end to the settlers’ behavior. “I want to emphasize that this is not the first time such a thing has happened,” wrote Bishara to Peretz.
“The aggressive behavior of the settlers against the residents and foreign volunteers occurs repeatedly with intolerable frequency, all this without any law enforcement or any form of punishment. The fact is that the behavior of the settlers resembles that of outlaws in the Wild West,” added Bishara. The chairman of Balad also called on the minister to intervene immediately and put an end to “the barbaric and unacceptable behavior of the settlers, to enforce the law and to ensure the security of local Palestinian residents, to investigate this incident and to bring those responsible to justice.”