by ISM Hebron, December 17th
At 11am, human rights workers in the Tel Rumeida district of Hebron were alerted that 40 Israeli settlers, one of whom was armed, had invaded the Abu Haikal’s property and were having a picnic and campfire in their olive groves. The settlers were accompanied by 15 soldiers. The settlers and soldiers refused to let Palestinian schoolchildren enter their houses after school although this is against even Israeli law.
soldiers refusing to allow Palestinian schoolchildren home
When contacted the police confirmed that the Palestinian children were allowed through their land to reach their homes but when the police turned up they refused to allow this. Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was called to the scene and the DCO (District Coordination Office – the civil administration wing of the Israeli military int he West Bank) promised to ‘sort it out’ when contacted but never showed up.
Mary Baxter, a 75-year old human rights worker who frequently defends the rights of Palestinian residents in the community, began making inquiries first to the soldiers and then to the police. After speaking to the police for approximately half an hour, they detained her and she was taken away in the back of a police jeep. Baxter was arrested at the police station for obstructing the police jeep and made to sign conditions which forbid her from standing opposite her front door for two weeks. She is also banned from visiting friends and the community
centre in Tel Rumeida
Baxter was released after being being held for four hours, including one hour in the cold outside Kiryat Arba police station despite her sick condition. She has a cold and bandaged hand from a fall, and only came out today because of the mass settler trespass on Palestinian land.
Baxter has significantly contributed to the support of Palestinian rights in the Tel Rumeida district of Hebron by drawing international attention to the plight of Palestinian residents who are denied basic rights like the ability to drive cars, walk on certain streets, and receive emergency services. Recently the Secretary General of Amnesty International visited Tel Rumeida and condemned Israeli human rights violations.
Settlers remained on the property for approximately 3 hours. None of the Israeli trespassers were arrested.
Earlier in the day settlers had hit a teacher with a rock on her way to the Al Qutuba school in Tel Rumeida. The teacher was hospitalised.
After school as the Palestinian schoolchildren were being accompanied home, settlers bombarded them with rocks, apples and eggs.
One Palestinian man was detained for 40 minutes at a Tel Rumeida checkpoint. When a HRW asked the soldiers why he was being detained they replied it was because the man ‘wanted to be there’.
The settler children are on holiday for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
Mary Baxter: 0545316328
ISM media office: 02 2971824, 0599943157