FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5 April 2007
Palestinian resident in Tel Rumeida: “Settlers have set my car on fire” The Israeli police: “We don’t speak Arabic”. Soldiers prevent fire trucks from accessing the burning car.
Last night, Hani Abu Haikal parked his car at 20:30 and walked the 10 minute route to his house through the olive grove. Because he is Palestinian, Hani is not allowed to drive his car to his house in Tel Rumeida. Jewish settlers, however, are allowed to drive cars of any kind while Palestinians are prevented from driving any vehicle, including ambulances, fire trucks, and taxis. When there is an emergency, Palestinians must make their way to the Tel Rumeida checkpoint in order to reach one of these vehicles. Israeli law in Tel Rumeida allows for this kind of discrimination.
Hani must park it on the outskirts of the neighborhood and walk a long distance through the olive grove to reach his house, leaving his car open to attacks from violent Israeli settlers. At 20:55, Hani received a phone call from neighbors, warning him that settlers had set fire to his car. Israeli police were called immediately.
When Hani’s sister Bilal called the police for help, the officer responded, “I do not speak Arabic!” and then hung up. Bilal then called The Red Cross who relayed the information to Amir, the Army D.C.O. Amir told the Abu Haikals that they could not file a report until Friday because the station was closed due to the Jewish holiday of Pesach.
Forty Israeli soldiers who were on scene prevented the Palestinian fire trucks from extinguishing the burning car. Palestinian civilians extinguished the fire themselves with buckets of water. Hani stated that, “The soldiers could have stopped the settlers if they wanted to. 100 meters from where I park my car is a Palestinian apartment building that Israeli soldiers have been occupying for 7 years!”
Upon inspecting the damage, Hani notice that the driver’s side tire was extremely charred and the windshield had been smashed. Three large rocks were found on the inside of the car. “This is the fourth car in Tel Rumeida that the settlers have set on fire in this same way,” Hani said. “They douse the wheel with gas and speark it. Two of them happened already this year.”
Palestinians in Tel Rumeida suffer from an ongoing campaign of violence and harassment, geared at forcing the Palestinian residents to flee the area. Violent Israeli settlers often attack Palestinians and damage property, especially on Jewish holidays and Saturdays (Shabaat). Israeli soldiers and police, who are mandated by Israeli and international law to protect the Palestinians from settler violence, often refuse to intervene.
For more information, contact:
Hani Abu Haikal (Arabic), 0599-938-788
Mikael (Hebrew), 0506-334-054
Daood (English), 0543-127-253
ISM Media Office, 0599-943-157