September 18th –19th, 2007
Tel Rumeida, Hebron
At 5pm, a busload of soldiers in the midst of their training and a busload of settler-supporting tourists arrived to the illegal settlement of Tel Rumeida. At this time, two international Human Rights Workers (HRWs) were warned by an IOF soldier that if they were to stay within the immediate vicinity they would be arrested. The HRWs refused to leave in order to be able to continue safeguarding the local Palestinian children from possible attacks carried out by the Israeli settlers of the area. Under questioning the IOF soldier refused to give a reason why the HRWs were not allowed to be in the area, and after a series of further warnings the frustrated soldier called the police.
When the police jeep arrived the IOF soldier approached the police and started pointing at the HRWs and speaking in Hebrew. At the police’s request the HRWs approached the jeep and showed their passports and visas whilst enquiring for what reason they were forbidden from being in the area. The IOF soldier then promptly replied it was due to the HRWs’ own safety, giving a reason for the first time and despite previously claiming he didn’t speak English.
When questioned from what the HRWs were at risk, the IOF soldier and police refused to give an answer. Additionally the HRWs expressed their concerns for the safety of the local Palestinian children and asked how they would be protected without the supervision of HRWs, to which the IOF soldier and police had no answer.
Consequently the HRWs rightfully asked to see the written order as well as a map of the area which they were supposedly not allowed to be present in. The police promptly refused and simply stated: “There is no need, what I say is the law!” Nevertheless without written proof the HRWs were allowed to leave and warned that if they were to return the next morning they would be arrested.
This morning four HRWs, including the two involved the previous day, were patrolling within Tel Rumeida, when they were stopped by police and ordered to hand in their passports. A police officer then proceeded to explain in English to the HRWs that they were not allowed to be in the area of Tel Rumeida for the next 24 hours due to a Jewish festivity; initially stating the zone as a closed military zone.
When HRWs said that a closed military zone can’t be imposed specifically only upon the internationals he claimed he could and produced a piece of paper written in Hebrew where the dates and times of the ban were handwritten. The HRWs then requested a translation yet this was hastily rejected by the police officer, and he continued by showing a map of the entirety of Tel Rumeida (H2) when asked about the limits of the ban, and claimed he wasn’t obliged to prove the ban and that his actions towards the HRWs were out of good faith.
The HRWs then proceeded to enquire about the safety of the Palestinian children going to and coming from their schools throughout the day and demanded a guarantee that the IOF soldiers and police present would prevent and react when necessary in the case of the children being harassed and possibly assaulted by the Israeli settlers. The police officer refused to give a guarantee and only further stated that the HRWs would be arrested if seen in the streets of Tel Rumeida during the ban. He then proceeded to state that the passport numbers of the HRWs had been recorded and that they had been given an official warning. He stated that consequently if they were to break the ban they would be detained and possibly arrested. Two of the HRWs which were leaving the area for reasons unrelated to the ban then asked for permission to leave the area, and were consequently escorted by an IOF jeep to Tel Rumeida checkpoint whilst the remaining two HRWs proceeded to leave Tel Rumeida Street.