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Provocations continue: settler rally in Al Buwayra

19 August 2010 | ISM Media

Al Buwayra /Al Baqa’a Valley

About 4 pm on 18 August 2010, a group of international activists witnessed an large number of Israeli settlers walking in groups up to “Hill 18” in Al Buwayra, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Hebron. Settlers there had made an outpost in the very heart of the village, and over the years they have repeatedly harassed and attacked the Palestinians living here. Said outpost was recently been demolished by the Israeli army, sparking settlers riots and vindictive attacks on people, property and farmland. The day after the demolition settlers began to rebuild the outpost, and this process is ongoing.

Yesterday afternoon about 100 settlers walked – or drove in minibuses – through the village, and along the road leading up to the outpost, connecting it to the illegal Harzina settlement; a road which it is forbidden for Palestinians to walk or drive on. The settlers were carrying posters with Hebrew writing on, and speaking on a megaphone. Some would stop by and tell the internationals to leave, curse them and threaten them with ‘God’s punishment’ for being present.

After gathering at the outpost, the settlers walked through the fields to Road 60, some climbing the hills almost up to three Palestinian houses on the top of the Al Baqa’a Valley. The settlers were seen to throw rocks at sheep owned by local Palestinian farmers. Down near Road 60, about 50 people gathered, made a fire, and held their posters aloft. Music was played, and some speeches were given through the megaphone.

The police and army had just arrived when the internationals got to the spot. The full attention of the police was focused on the international, and one policeman took the five activists’ passports, claiming he had to check them. While waiting on the opposite side of the road from the settlers, one policeman claimed ISM activists were not allowed to be in the area. Asked if it was a closed military zone, the police said “yes”, subsequently bringing two papers which they wouldn’t let the internationals look at properly to verify. The internationals were then asked to leave, which they naturally would not do without their passports (still held by the police).

After making a clear point that we were not the ones violating any law, and asking the police to remove the settlers from Palestinian land, activists were informed by police that “This is the land of Israel, and there is nothing named Palestinian land.” The police then stopped a few Palestinian cars, forced the drivers to get out, and searched the passengers and the vehicle. Six soldiers were observed walking up to the top of the valley, after the settlers had gone down to the road. Asked why they went there, the police responded: “To prevent anybody from getting hurt.”

The Internationals then left the area for about 20 minutes, then coming back to ask for the “closed military zone” paper, which, it seems, did not exist.

After about 2 hours settlers started to leave the area in minibuses. ISM activists then went into Buwayra and stayed overnight with a family who live close to the outpost, fearing another riot like the one seen on 6 August, when 100 setters attacked the Sultan family’s house with rocks. Nothing happened, and it seems that most of the settlers left Buwayra after their demonstration. The protest was, according to Hebrew speakers about marking the 4th anniversary of what the settlers claim was the murder of a settler on another, now demolished, outpost in Buwayra. The settlers’ demonstration comes after weeks of violence and harassment following the demolition of an Israeli outpost.