Three international activists were arrested on Thursday, August 1st at 6pm while accompanying Palestinian farmers in the South Hebron Hills. They are currently being held in Kiriyat Arba Police Station, Hebron, where they are being charged with entering a Closed Military Zone (CMZ), despite the fact that settlers were attacking Palestinian farmers at the time and the restricted area applies only to Israeli citizens.
The three activists, from Japan, Sweden and Britain, were asked by Rabbi’s for Human Rights to accompany a group of Palestinian farmers to graze their livestock and take pictures of the area. The land in question was the subject of a recent High Court decision that declared the area restricted for Israelis in an attempt to prevent settlers attacks on Palestinian farmers. This ruling, however, also means that Israeli Human Rights Groups are unable to accompany farmers grazing their livestock on the land. The court ruling, however, does not prevent international human rights activists or groups from accompanying the Palestinian farmers.
Within a half an hour of the farmers reaching their land, accompanied by the three international human rights workers, settlers attempted to intimidate the group. The car load of settlers attempted to drive their vehicle into the herd of sheep belong to the Palestinian farmers, in an attempt to scare and intimidate the farmers who were grazing the herd.
The three internationals accompanying the Palestinian farmers rang Rabbis for Human Rights, who contacted the Israeli army and DCO. Israeli police quickly arrived on the scene and rather than arrest the settlers, who were allowed to leave, they arrested the three internationals instead.
Human Rights Groups have managed to film many instances of settlers attacks on Palestinian farmers in the South Hebron Hills in recent weeks, notably a Palestinian farmer being beaten while tied to a electricity pole.