July 10th, 2007. At 11:25am two international human rights workers were hanging up posters around the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida for a children’s summer camp due to begin at the end of the week. The posters are designed to make Palestinian children, within Tel Rumeida, ages 5-14 aware of the event so that they will attend.
The internationals had been hanging up posters for forty-five minutes, down Tel Rumeida hill, and on Shuhada street, when they reached the stone-staircase across from Beit Hadassah settlement. The internationals hung up a poster on a stop sign right before the stone staircase. The Israeli soldier present said nothing to either international although he obviously saw the internationals hang up the sign.
The internationals then proceeded to walk up the stone staircase, to hang up more posters, when an Israeli settler began to yell at the soldier about the poster hung up on the stop sign. This settlers name is Atan, he lives in Tel Rumeida settlement, and the internationals have had many problems with him in the past. The soldier told the internationals to stop, and ordered them to come down the stairs.
The internationals asked why the soldier would listen to the settler, and that the posters were for a children’s summer camp. The soldier did not respond as the Israeli settler, Atan, continued to yell at the soldier. One international offered to take down the sign since it seemed to have caused a disturbance and he wanted to proceed hanging up posters without interruption.
When the international tried to take down the sign, however, Atan pushed the internationals hand out of the way. The settler then dropped his shoulder into the internationals chest and pushed him back. The soldier present did nothing about this, and then told the international to leave the poster hanging up.
It then became obvious that they, the Israeli soldier and settler, wanted to use the poster as evidence that the internationals had broken some kind of law. It was then that a plainclothes Israeli showed up, and briefly flashed an id at the internationals telling them that they were detained until the police would come. He told the internationals that he had pictures of them and that if they left they would be arrested by the police. He refused to speak English to the internationals until they tried to leave, and then would make sure to tell them, in English, that if they left they would be arrested.
The internationals at that point were forced to wait, and they both assumed the man was Shin Bet. The Israeli man spoke freely with the soldier, and when a new group of soldiers arrived, who were in training, the Israeli man had long discussions with the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) commanders. He seemed to be respected by every Israeli or settler immediately, which is why the internationals assumed he was Shin Bet.
After about 15 minutes the police arrived and began filming the stop sign, with the poster, and the two internationals. They also took the internationals passports. The Israeli police also told the internationals that it was illegal to put up signs on public property and that they would be investigated. This claim was completely absurd as one can see settler posters and propaganda all over the Tel Rumeida neighborhood.
The time at this point was about 12:20, and the internationals had called multiple Israeli groups and Palestinian friends about their situation. It was obvious that it was the poster on the stop sign that had caused the whole disturbance, and though the internationals had offered to take down this poster multiple times the police told them to leave it hanging.
The police officer then told the internationals to get into the back of the police jeep because they were going to be investigated. The internationals at first refused to get into the police jeep because they feared they would face an absurd charge and be arrested. The policeman began to say, however, that the internationals were resisting arrest, and the internationals finally complied to go into the police jeep.
By the time the internationals arrived at the Kiryat Arba police station they had called everyone they knew about their situation and what they might be charged with.
They found later, after about an hour waiting at the police station, that they could be arrested on charges of putting posters on public property which is supposedly illegal under military law in the occupied territories.
However after about two and half hours, at 2:30pm, the internationals were released without charges. They had given their statements, and the police investigator told them they would remain under investigation. He also told the internationals that they should not make any more problems in Tel Rumeida.
The police investigator also told them that they could hang up more posters but only on houses on which Palestinian families allowed them to place posters. The internationals then walked home to Tel Rumeida.
When they arrived on Shuhada street they noticed that none of the posters were left on the walls. At this point it was about 3:00pm. They discovered, from the internationals present on Shuhada street, that the Israeli settler, Atam, had taken down all the posters on Shuhada street and up the hill.
One of the internationals, who had gone to the police station, stopped Atam, as he was driving, by standing in front of the van. The international quickly yelled at Atam that he had no business taking down their posters, while another international asked “why do you have so much problems with kids?” Atam just shrugged and drove away to an Israeli police officer, stationed at the end of the street, and complained to him about the international stopping his van.
When the policeman arrived he took the internationals information, and told them that it was illegal to put up anymore posters because the picture was inflammatory to the State of Israel. One side of the picture depicted a young girl with barbed wire across her face. Some of the barbs were in the shape of the Star of David.
Israeli Settler Tearing Down Posters
The policeman told them that the Israeli settler, Atam, had every right to take down the posters because they would incite the settlers, the army, and all Jewish people. He would not admit that the violent settler graffiti littered all over Tel Rumeida, including “Gas the Arabs”, is much more repulsive and inflammatory than these posters.
The policeman told the internationals that they could hang up posters around the neighborhood but not these posters due to the Stars of David.