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Tel Rumeida: Freedom to Trespass

At about 4:30pm two internationals human rights workers (HRW) were at the house of a Palestinian man who is in the process of rebuilding his home that had previously been used as an army post. This house is located directly behind Tel Rumeida settlement. The house being rebuilt is owned by a Palestinian and is under constant threat of attack from Israeli settlers. The HRWs were with the Palestinian owner of the home, his brother, four Palestinian children, and two Israeli human rights workers.

At this time, 4:30pm, an Israeli settler named Atam arrived with 5 small children ages 3-5 years old. The settler also had an Ak-47 on his back. At first the group stood in a field below the house and began to pray together. They then walked to the edge of the hill overlooking the city, and the Ibrahimi Mosque, and again briefly prayed. The group then approached the house. The owner of the home told them that they should not come, and tried to stand in the way of Atam who has caused many problems for this Palestinian man in the past.

The Israeli children immediately began to shriek and cry at exactly the same time. It was obvious that Atam had brought these children, with orders to cry, in order to cause some disturbance. He wanted to pass through the house, or at least through the property, in order to reach the settlement, and was using the children to do this.

Atam immediately called the Israeli police, because the Palestinian owner of the home did not want him to pass. The owner of the home knows that the settlers will use every reason to pass through his property so that later they can attack him and his home at will. In this case they are using children as an excuse to pass through the property.

Atam kept trying to push past the Palestinian man, and even tried to enter the home but it was protected by an international. The two Israeli human rights workers kept arguing with Atam and one was very much disturbed that he would use children to try and achieve his goals of passing through the property. All the while the children were crying.

At about 4:50pm two Israeli soldiers arrived and spoke with Atam and the Israeli human rights workers. The situation was not resolved and they continued to wait for the Israeli police. During this time Atam tried to push past the Palestinian owner many times with his screaming crying children.

When the police arrived both sides explained the incident. The Palestinian man said he would not allow the Israeli settler to pass because it was his property and the Israeli human rights workers said it was abhorrent that the settler would use children to try and pass. At one point the children had stopped crying and then began crying again for no reason making it obvious that Atam was telling them to cry.

Finally the police told Atam that he could pass, though the Palestinian owner of the home was very angry about this. He told the police that it was his property and that he would sue the police for this injustice. Atam passed through the area and afterwards the police continued to question the Palestinian owner and the two Israeli human rights workers. As usual with Israeli justice, the Israeli settlers who caused the incidents are free to leave while the Palestinians are forced to answer to the police as if they are the criminals.

The police continued to question and argue with the Palestinian man, and Israeli human rights workers until well after 6:00pm. Nothing was resolved.