28 March 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
Today at around 1 PM extremist settler Anat Cohen attacked a Canadian woman accompanying school children, and a few minutes later sent two teenage settlers to throw rocks at the Canadian woman and a Finnish man. The attack occurred at the bottom of the stairs connecting the Qordaba Girls School with the section of Shuhada street where Palestinians are allowed to walk.
Cohen passed the internationals in her car and stopped to talk to soldiers at the nearby checkpoint. She then reversed her car, parked next to the internationals and proceeded to shove, kick and scream at the Canadian women while soldiers looked on. Eventually a soldier came to force the internationals up the stairs, but did nothing to stop Cohen from harassing them.
In a transcript of the video provided by Uri Horesh, an ISM activist asks the soldier why he refuses to act despite Cohen’s intrusion and attack on the activist. As the soldier mumbles a response as to whether soldiers take orders from Cohen, Cohen declares vigorously, “I live here! Don’t say I should be taken away! I live here!!”
A few minutes later two settler children who Cohen had just spoken with ran up a parallel staircase and threw rocks at the internationals from less than a foot away, hitting the Finnish man in the ear. Two soldiers watched the second attack, then turned in the opposite direction and refused to intervene. Cohen then called the police, who demanded the passports of all the internationals present, who detained them for several minutes, and then told them they were not allowed to stand at the bottom or top of the stairs. When asked why the police were doing nothing about the attacks, a soldier responded that Anat Cohen is “well known to the police” and there was “nothing to be done.”
The staircase that connects Palestinian schools and houses with Shuhada street has been a site of frequent settler attacks, particularly on girls from the nearby Qordaba school who have been stoned by settlers many times on the stairs and the area leading to it.
Internationals have been accompanying children in this area to try and prevent attacks by settlers and harassment from soldiers.
Paige is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).