17 January 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
On Sunday, the 16th of January, at approximately 2 AM, about fifty settlers, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, entered the Abu Haikal family’s field in the neighborhood of Tel Rumeideh in Hebron. After throwing stones at the family’s house, they savagely burnt the car of Hana Haikal, fifty-three years old.
The Abu Haikal’s house is only a few meters away from a settlement from which the family are subject to constant pressure. This is the eighth car that the settlers have burned in the last five years. Five belonged to Hana, the remaining 3 to her brother. The agenda of the settlers is simply to harass the family as much as possible in order to force them away from their house and land. Their tactics include the burning of cars, verbal harassment, throwing of stones, destruction of land, and poisoning of soil to kill the family’s olive trees.
When Hana saw the car that morning she was devastated and crying. She said that since 1994, the simple act of staying in their home is a fight against the settlers, a fight that she will never give up. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover settler attacks and Hana has no more money to pay for another car.The insurance companies know that in this neighborhood there are often settler attacks and refuse to cover this type of “accident” any more.
She is demanding justice and the right to live in peace and security. But with the situation in Hebron as it is, she is left with little in the way of legal recourse.
Settlers are systematically killing Palestinian heritage, stealing land, attempting to erase their identity by poisoning the trees and attempting to make their daily life unbearable.
From this point on, Hana says she will protest until the government acts.
“She’s going to stay there, she will stay there. She will not eat, not drink until something is done,” said her brother.
A protest camp has been set up at the site of the burnt car. A group of approximately forty local Palestinian residents gathered there on the afternoon of the Monday 17th of January to express their outrage at the attacks and their solidarity with the Abu Haikal family.
A tent has been erected and Palestinian flags placed on and around the burnt car. A sign attached to the front of the car’s skeleton states: “We are here…not to upset anyone and not to make anyone happy…we are here because we are here.”
Soldiers and police arrived, apparently at the behest of a single settler who had seen the crowd gathering. In order to again protect the settlers from the peaceful gathering crowd, they took control of any area overlooking the site and barred people from leaving via the main route away from where they were.
Sarah is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).