Home / Features / One hundred settlers gather to violate construction freeze; Israeli soldiers threaten besieged Palestinian family

One hundred settlers gather to violate construction freeze; Israeli soldiers threaten besieged Palestinian family

2 September 2010 | ISM Media

Baqa’a valley, HEBRON

Last night (1 Sept. 2010) around 150 to 175 Israeli settlers, many armed, constructed an illegal outpost at a new location in the Baqa’a valley, east of Hebron, and attempted to harass a Palestinian family.

A large group of settlers constructing an illegal near Road 60

The Israeli army did not attempt to disperse the settler gathering but later did partially raze the area on which the makeshift outpost buildings had been built – near the illegal Israeli settlements of Kiryat Arba and Givat Harsina, on the opposite side of Route 60, the road where four settlers were killed the previous night.

ISM activists were staying in the house of Palestinian farmer Atta Jabr and his family, who have been subjected to numerous attacks due to the proximity of the illegal Harsina settlement and the nearby “Hill 18” outpost. The last incident was just two weeks when Atta and his pre-teen daughter were attacked by six settlers.

From the house the family and the activists could observe the settlers’ activities a very short distance away.

At 17:00 six settlers arrived with a truck carrying a large water tank. Three soldiers approached them and spoke to them but took no action and left. Around half an hour later, a truck came carrying timber and other building supplies. It was unloaded by twelve settlers.

By 17:45, around 100 settlers had congregated at the site, including many armed with pistols and M16s. A digger arrived carrying around 40 bags of cement in its scoop.

By 18:30, around 175 settlers had arrived, many taking part in construction.

The home of the Jabr family which was besieged for three hours

Some settlers approached the Palestinian house, located about 40m up the hill, no doubt with the intention to harass the Jabr family again. Around 20 settler youths walked around the house. A settler family car stopped outside the front porch of the Palestinian house for a short period of time while the driver looked inside – however they took no further action. The family was effectively under siege for about three hours.

Shortly afterwards the Israeli army arrived, led by the same Captain who two weeks earlier had harassed peaceful internationals instead of removing a large group of settlers from the Palestinian Baqa’a.

A squad of six soldiers walked up to the Palestinian house. The Sergeant shouted in Hebrew demands for the windows to be shut and the lights to be switched off. The internationals didn’t understand so the Sgt lifted up his rifle and cocked it. The soldiers then climbed onto the roof.

By 19:00 it appeared that some settlers had started walking away back to Harsina.

At 20:00, some Israeli activists including Rabbis for Human Rights, AATW and ICAHD tried to access the area but been denied by the army. They reported that the outpost seemed to have been demolished, apparently by the civil administration. The soldiers came down from the roof.

Meanwhile across the valley at Al Buwayra tension was high and a settler attack was fully expected due to the village’s extremely close proximity to the outpost and it’s history settler violence. Three members of CPT and one ISM activist stayed at a house in the village that often bears the brunt of these attacks. At 11.30 news came in that settlers were stoning a nearby house. On arriving near to the house it was apparent that 4-5 settlers were throwing stones from behind the security fence at a Palestinian house. Not far from the scene  the chanting and yelling of  party of settlers probably numbering 30 -40 people could be heard. Not long after the internationals arrived the settlers left and the Palestinians and internationals returned to the house.

When activists went to investigate the location of the Baqa’a valley outpost construction attempt this morning they found a 3×3 metres square of cement, covered in boot prints. Palestinian Atta Jabr told them that the settlers had already come up with a Hebrew name for the outpost they wish to illegally build on Palestinian land – ‘Navi Hevron’.

This incident occurred following an announcement by the settlers that they would unilaterally violate the freeze on settlement construction – deemed illegal under international law – which is not due to expire until September 26th.

The settlers carry out so-called “price tag” attacks on Palestinians whenever the Israeli authorities prevent settlement expansion. The resumption of construction comes after the shooting of four Israeli settlers in Hebron two days ago, an attack which the militant wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for.

Atta Jabr and his family have lived in the area for more than three generations. Their house has been demolished twice. Members of the family appeared in the acclaimed 2006 documentary Occupation 101 – (clip below)  – speaking about their experiences of life under Israeli occupation.