October 4th, 2007
The final day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot descended into violence in Tel Rumeida, Hebron on Thursday, as a group of settlers attacked local Palestinians and two international Human Rights Workers (HRWs). At approximately 1:45pm a large group of settlers, many heavily intoxicated, marched their way up through the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood shouting abuse at the Palestinian residents. Two international HRWs were at the scene documenting the harassment when the settler leading the march shouted to the crowd that the internationals were, “worse than the Arabs”. A stone was then thrown at one of the HRW’s as the settler crowd became increasingly aggressive.
Violence then erupted as local Palestinians were attacked by the settler group, with punches thrown and a large glass bottle of vodka hurled, narrowly missing a young Palestinian’s head. The local Palestinians, including children, were then forced up onto a nearby road as the army intervened. A group of 8 settler men simultaneously cornered the 2 international HRWs who were filming the attack, attempting to steal and break their camera. The HRWs were repeatedly punched in the body and face as one of the settlers managed to grab the camera before police finally intervened. However, rather than destroy the tape, the settlers carelessly threw it in to a nearby skip where it was quickly rescued with the tape intact, though the camera was in fact broken.
The settlers continued their provocation as they were allowed by the army and police to carry on their march. When questioned later as to whether they saw their job to protect Palestinians as well as settlers, one of the soldiers at the scene replied that he was there “only to protect Jews”, simply shrugging when reminded of the army’s obligations, under international law, to protect all inhabitants of occupied territories.
As of now, there have been reports that two of the settler assailants have confessed to the police as to their involvement and that one of the marchers is willing to testify as to the events. Together with the film recorded by the international HRWs and further evidence recovered by police at the scene, charges are expected to be announced soon, though a vast majority of those involved in the violence will be held unaccountable for their roles in the unprovoked attack.