by aspiringnomad, December 3rd
On Tuesday a group of six human rights activists travelled to the small vallage of Sarra, west of Nablus, in response to a plea from a local school headmaster about Israeli army harassment of schoolchildren. According to countless eyewitness reports, during the last week an Israeli military Humvee would arrive in front of the school as the children were coming out, and proceed to let off sound bombs, tear gas and fire rubber bullets. However, the previous day the Humvee had arrived earlier and stayed for 4 hours between 10am and 2pm.
During the documentation of these harrowing witness statements a message arrived that the Humvee had just appeared at the gates of the girls school across the street. The six activists immediately went to the scene in order to ascertain the Israeli army’s motives and also to document any further harassment.
On seeing the approaching activists the soldiers quickly jumped into their Humvee and sped towards the centre of town at high speed. Three activists pursued the vehicle whilst the others stayed back at the entrance to the school.
As the activists caught up with the Humvee it proceeded to double back towards the school. It then stopped beside two activists and an Israeli soldier asked the reason for our presence. When the same question was asked of the soldier it was met with a cynical smile before he slammed the door, and the humvee drove into town, stopping only to throw a tear gas canister at some schoolchildren and fire a volley of bullets into the air before driving away.
After the Humvee’s departure, a call was made to the DCO (District Coordination Office – the civil administration wing of the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank) making them aware of what was happening, after which the activists remained for a further two hours.
Sarra is a typical small village that relies on agriculture for its income. Therefore the Israeli army’s military presence, and their subsequent behaviour can only be seen as a means to harass, humiliate and terrorize the residents.
The following day the activists returned to Sarra, but fortunately the Humvee didn’t return. More data was collected on Israeli army harassment that had occurred over the previous month, which included several late night visits by the army, who raided homes.
Almost a week after the initial presence of the activists at the scene, the military has yet to return to sarra.