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While shepherds watch their flocks in the South Hebron Hills

by the ISM media team from reports by Operation Dove, December 24th

Documenting IOF damage in Al Birki, December 10th

Two Doves went to Al Birki in order to collect data and pictures of the damage the army caused on November 29th and December 7th. They met several people whose houses and cars were damaged. The soldiers focussed mainly on windows, doors and car windows. Here is the list of the damage they saw:

#1 a shop in Karmel where soldiers destroyed lights and door bells.

#2 TV shop: soldiers broke a satellite dish with rocks and shot another one. The broken satellite dishes were put outside the shop.

#3 house – soldiers broke several window panes and doors with rifle butts.

#4 house – soldiers broke 4 window panes and 3 in the door. They entered the house and broke a neon lamp.

#5 house – soldiers shot in the ceiling of the porch. No bullets were found.

#6 house – broken glass window panes and door panes.

#7 soldiers hit a Mitsubishi L200 # IL 32 123 02 with their jeep, damaging the doors and breaking the glass windows.

#8 house – soldiers broke window panes and doors.

#9 driving by, soldiers threw stones and broke some glass window panes on a house.

#10 soldiers broke the back window of a car (#73 907 89) and shot into one of the doors.

#11 soldiers occupied a house for several hours and broke the front door panes.

#12 soldiers stopped a car on a road, damaged the inside and removed the car’s registration document.

Settlers in Umm Faggarah, Tuesday 12 December

At 9:45am a villager told the team that settlers and soldiers were in Umm Fagarah. The team arrived at 10:15, just as an army jeep, police jeep and settler ‘security’ jeep were leaving. The team saw also a big flock of goats and a shepherd leaving from Umm Fagarah towards Avi Gail. Umm Fagarah villagers identified the shepherd as a settler grazing his sheep on a villager’s land. As the villager went out to tell the settler to leave, the settler called the police who came and arrested the Palestinian.

At 1:10pm, a villager came to tell the team there were more problems in Umm Fagarah. When the internationals arrived, police van 32635 was parked on the hill near the road to Avigail. Two settlers were standing outside the van talking with two police officers. One settler wrapped his sweater around his face when he saw the internationals. The two settlers got into the van along with a Palestinian. A Dove tried to block the van from leaving and asked the police officer to make the settler uncover his face. The officer said there was no problem. The van left at 1:55. As the van left, a settler on a horse (almost certainly the same settler who rode his horse into Tuwani in October) arrived. He started riding through the hills between Umm Fagarah and Khallet At Thaba villages, always keeping the top half of his face masked. He also rode for about fifteen minutes in the village’s fields damaging the crops by trampling them with the horse. He entered Umm Fagarah twice, riding very fast inside the village. The villagers reported that the settler had threatened to come back at night.

At 2:30 two settlers in a silver Mazda sedan, license plate #8718759 arrived and chased two Palestinian children that were grazing the land in front of the village. The internationals intervened. About half an hour later, the men returned to their car and army jeep 611019 arrived. The settlers spoke with the soldiers. A CPTer tried to inform the soldiers and asked them to arrest the man with the horse that was inside Umm Fagarah village for trespassing, but they ignored her and drove away.

Just before 10:00pm, a villager reported that soldiers drove through the village and threw some rocks. They destroyed several car windows parked in a courtyard. Soldiers also threw rocks at a house and broke the window of the room closest to the road. They narrowly missed some men sleeping inside. The soldiers shone their searchlight in the Palestinians’ faces, making it impossible for them to identify the soldiers. Internationals arrived after the jeep had already left. Five minutes later, two army jeeps arrived (611019 and 610769). A soldier said that they had been ordered to come here by an officer because somebody was heard cursing in Hebrew. Calls were made to the police. After 11:30, the police called back, saying they would not come at night but might come in the morning. The police did not come in the morning or on the following days.

Military Training, December 13th

At around 2pm a villager requested international presence in Al Birki as there were soldiers occupying houses and causing damage.

A Dove and a CPTer arrived in the village 20 minutes later. The house the soldiers occupied was closed. A man told us from a window that the soldiers had put all the family in one room and were occupying all the other rooms. The soldiers came out at 2.45pm. There were seven of them, four with masks. One was a one-bar officer. They wandered around Al Birki for about one hour briefly searching some houses. They didn’t cause any damage.

At around 3.30 they entered another house, put all the family into a room and occupied the rest of the house.

The soldiers left the house at 4 pm and headed towards Ma’on. Boys were following the unit and the soldiers cocked and aimed their rifles at the crowd while some Palestinian men, internationals and an Israeli peace activist intervened. The soldiers fired tear gas at the boys. The unit slowly left Al Birki and stopped at a cistern west of the village where they were joined by another unit of eight men and they examined maps.

The two units returned to the Yatta road and searched a house at the intersection. They took the ID of the man who owned the house and removed a document from it. At 5:45, jeep 611332 arrived to drop off two stretchers, several bags of dirt and rocks and a few long tubes. After a small pause where soldiers stopped briefly but aggressively the few Palestinian cars that passed they continued down the road towards Ma’on.

Road 317 junction blocked for Palestinians because of Israeli race, December 14th

At 2pm, villagers reported that Road 317 was blocked by armoured ambulance # 628098. Soldiers reported that there was going to be a race and they were closing the road. A villager tried to cross from Tuwani and a tractor tried to cross from the Yatta side but both were pushed back even though the main road was empty. After around an hour when all the pedestrians had crossed soldiers removed the vehicle from the gate and parked it along the road letting vehicles cross.