By The ISM Media Team
Wednesday , June 27th, 2007: Shortly after 3pm this afternoon, two internationals working with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood were walking through the olive groves between Palestinian homes, when they observed two armed men in civilian clothes enter an unoccupied Palestinian home which had been broken into and vandalized last week. Keeping a distance, and calling several other internationals (two from ISM and one member of the Israeli group, Children of Abraham) for assistance, they approached the home, and became aware of the sound of breaking glass. When two other internationals and an Israeli peace activist arrived, they entered the courtyard of the home and observed six to eight Israeli soldiers inside the Palestinian home. When the soldiers became aware of the internationals’ presence, one from their group quickly blocked the doorway of the home and demanded that the human rights workers (HRWs) leave the premises.
The HRWs refused to leave and demanded an explanation for the soldiers presence. The soldiers insisted that the home was necessary for their training exercises, and claimed to have no responsibility for the earlier break-in. When asked to leave, the soldiers became hostile, saying the internationals “had no right to be in Israel”, and that they were “trespassing in the Palestinian home”. One soldier in particular made multiple racist statements about Arabs, and also disparaging remarks about American Jewry. After speaking to an Israeli human rights group about the legality of the situation, and being under the impression that their presence was perhaps extending the duration of the soldiers presence in the home, the HRWs decided to leave.
An hour after the International Solidarity Movement workers left, a Tel Rumeida Project (TRP) member noticed the soldiers still within the home, and called for two ISM workers monitoring the checkpoints on Shuhada St. They arrived and entered the broken home. The soldiers had by then called the police, and the two ISM workers from earlier were notified and soon arrived at the occupied home. The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) members came to observe the home invasion. The police arrived, as did the home owner, who had moved to another area of Palestine due to constant settler violence. After the police demanded the passports of the internationals and recorded their information, the TIPH members advised the ISM and TRP workers to leave the area and that the soldiers would leave within an hour. Later, the soldiers were observed vacating the home.