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Hebron: Settlers and Military Collude for Attacks against Palestinians and International Human Rights Workers

August 5th, 2007.

At aproxamatly 10:30pm five international human rights workers received a call from a Palestinian coordinator that some Palestinians had been attacked by Israeli settlers, and detained by Israeli soldiers, next to an illegal settler occupied house located near Kirat Arba settlement. This house was squatted, illegally, by Israeli settlers some months ago and the Palestinian homes surrounding this occupied house are under constant attack, and harassment by the Israeli settler inhabitants.

At about 9:45pm many Palestinian worshippers were inside the Mosque, which is located directly next to the Israeli occupied house. While the Palestinians were leaving the Mosque Israeli settlers began to throw stones on the Mosque, the Palestinians, and Palestinian vehicals. Some vehicals were badly damaged, and some Palestinian also were hit with stones multiple times.

Israeli soldiers were present WITH the settlers during the entire attack but did nothing to prevent the Israeli settlers from continuing there attack.

Some Palestinians, from far away, began to throw stones back at some Israeli settlers who were attacking their homes. The army then detained five to six Palestinian men who they would then charge with throwing stones at Israelis.

It is unclear as to whether the men who were detained were the same men that had thrown stones at the Israeli settlers, who were attacking them, and the soldiers who were standing by not stopping the attack. Some Palestinians said that they were different men, while the army said it was the same men.

Either way it is indicitive of Israeli justice to arrest those who defend themselves while being attacked, while their property, and very lives are at stake, while allowing those who perputrate the attack to go unpunished. If the Palestinians did not defend themselves against the settlers, while the army is supporting them by refusing to stop the attack, there is no limit to what destruction the Israeli settlers may carry out. It is a trait so common in Hebron within Israeli justice (or injustice): those who perputrate the attack go unpunished, while the victims are often punished and harrassed severly to add to the strain and humilation of having just been attacked.

When the internationals arrived at the home they found a large group of Palestinians waiting, and watching, as the five to six detained Palestinian men were made to sit against a stone wall. Some of the men were quite young and in their teenage years. These men were being detained and charged with throwing stones at Israeli soldiers (who were standing with the Israeli settlers as they attacked Palestinians), and were soon to be taken to Kiryat Arba police station. Four to five Israeli settlers were also present and immediately began to take pictures of the internationals.

The internationals intervened and began to speak with the soldiers. One international gave the detained Palestinian men water which they immediately began to drink because they were very thirsty. The soldiers however would not let the internationals approach the detained Palestinian men after this. The soldiers kept telling the internationals to go away and refused to answer most of the questions that were asked of them.

Suddenly the soldiers decided to load the detained Palestinian men into the back of an Israeli IOF jeep. The internationals began to follow, trying to film the incident, but were held back by the army.

At this point a Palestinian woman, who was the mother of one of the detained men, began to run forward: yelling for her son. This created a gap for the internationals to pass, and the internationals were able to approach the IOF jeep. At this point the internationals gathered around the Palestinian woman and some Palestinian men, as the soldiers were exerting force on the Palestinians to remove them from the vicinity of the jeep. The soldiers actually pushed the Palestinian woman, who was crying for her son, and an older man, trying to make them leave. The woman fell to the ground as the soldier pushed her, while some of the internationals got in-between the soldiers who were pushing the Palestinians.

The entire time the soldiers were physically pushing and pulling the internationals trying to make them leave the scene as well as the Palestinians.

Finally the woman, who was on the ground crying for her son, got up, still crying, yelling and appealing to the soldiers to release her son. The soldiers told the Palestinians that they were calling the police and they would not take the detained men anywhere until they arrived. The Palestinians then left the immediate area, under the soldiers orders, satisfied with this promise that the soldiers would wait for the police.

The soldiers then told the internationals that they should also leave the area, behind the jeep, but the internationals refused saying that they would not until the police arrived. The internationals feared that if they left, and stopped blocking the jeep from leaving, the soldiers would take the detained men to the police station.

After about five minutes the soldiers suddenly began to grab and pull the internationals; physically trying to make them leave the back of the jeep so that it could leave. Two internationals were forced to the ground and were surrounded by six soldiers while the three others were immediately pulled away.

The two internationals on the ground, who were still behind the jeep, were forced apart by a soldier that grabbed one of the internationals and twisted his wrist, almost breaking his arm. The soldiers then pulled the other international away who was struggling with the soldiers, on the ground, and trying to grab onto the jeep.

Unfortuantly during this time the internationals camera stopped recording as it was hit against the ground (the international was having his arm twisted by a soldier) and turned off. No footage of the attack by soldiers was taken.

For about two or three minutes the internationals struggled with the soldiers who physically restrained them. During the entire incident Israeli settlers, who were present, also began to take part in attacking the internationals. One settler tried to kick and punch an international while he was struggling with soldiers, on his back, on the ground.. Another Israeli settler tried to steal the camera of an international while she struggled with a soldier. The soldiers did nothing to restrain the settlers while they committed these acts.

Unfortunatly the jeep managed to make it away as five internationals stood no chance against twelve to fifteen Israeli soldiers.

At that point, after the jeep had left, the internationals were detained and forced to wait for the police. One soldier in particular kept trying to force the internationals to sit down or stay in one place, still pushing them around after they had just been assaulted by the soldiers. The Israeli settlers also present tried to taunt the internationals.

After about fifteen more minutes the police finally arrived and the soldiers spoke with them. The internationals then spoke with the police and found, to their surprise, that they were allowed to leave the area. The internationals thought that at least a few of them would be arressted.

Apparently the soldiers did not want the police to know of the incident that just occurred, for obvious reasons, as they had just attacked the internationals. When internationals tried to explain the situation to the police the police kept changing the subject telling the internationals that they had aggravated the situation. When the internationals said that they wanted to file a complaint against the soldier treatment, and abuse, the policeman said that they could not take any complaint against the army, as this was not their jurisdiction. Then the police left the area.

At this point it was about 11:40pm. The internationals were made to walk home after a brief interaction with the Israeli settlers. One settler actually demanded to see one internationals passport, who of course refused, later trying to attack one international who had a camera.

They then tried to take pictures of the internationals and intimidate them. When the internationals left the area an Israeli settlers threw one stone which almost hit one international in the head.

The internationals then spoke breifly with the the Palestinian familes who confirmed that they had indeed been attacked by Israeli settlers, for no reason, upon leaving the Mosque. One of the Palestinian cars was badly damaged by a settler stone which shattered the front windshield.

It was found later that the detained Palestinian men were arrested, charged and taken to Asyoun prison.