On August 10th, three israeli soldiers harassed Abud Huraini, a palestinian teenager from the village At-Tuwani, in the region of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills, while he was brining out his flock of goats to graze.
The three soldiers arrived by jeep from the illegal israeli settlement of Ma’on, which is located just few houndred meters away from At-Tuwani, and tormented Abud, asking him to leave the road from which he was tending to his flock. However, the three soldiers were confronted by a large group of Palestinian men and women accompanied by internationalist activists, including three ISMers, who filmed the soldiers and interposed themselves between them and Abud.
Just a few hours earlier Hamoudi, Abud’s older brother and an activist of the palestinian group Youth of Sumud, had been arrested arbitrarily by israeli soldiers as he was driving his car to return home in At-Tuwani. Hamoudi would be released a midnight without charges from the police station of Qiryat Arbaa’, after being blindfolded and physically abused by the soldiers who kidnapped him.
The three israeli soldiers, who had gotten nervous due to the determination of the group, asked for orders on the radio and thus tried to intimidate the internationalist activists present by filming them with phones and by trying to take pictures of their IDs. The soldiers also lied by insisting that the internationals were legally obligated to hand over their passports and allow them to take pictures.
Having this last intimidation tactic failed, the soldiers had no choice but to wait for Abud to finish herding the flock.
A palestinian told us that the three soldiers were likely new in Masafer Yatta: “They have rotations. These ones [the three soldiers] clearly don’t know the area, they don’t know what’s happening here. They probably just received a call from a settler who told them to go and bother [Abud]”.
Last year, on the very same place where Abud was harassed by the soldiers, Abud’s father Hafez, a human rights defender, was brutally attacked by five settlers. That time, the settlers broke both of Hafez’s arms with metal pipes. When Hafez’s family rushed to the scene, one of the settlers began shooting into the air with an assault rifle. Sami, Hafez’s oldest son and an activist, recounted that when soldiers arrived, they started pushing the Palestinians away from Hafez, who was lying on the ground.
“The settlers were giving orders to the soldiers. They told them that my father had attacked them and ordered the soldiers to arrest him” said Sami
When an ambulance of the Red Crescent arrived to the scene, the soldiers blocked the entrance of the vehicle to prevent medics from transporting Hafez to the hospital, while a settler pierced the tyres of the ambulance with a knife.
Eventually, Hafez was arrested and charged with attacking the settlers.
Palestinians accused of a crime are not tried in civilian courts, but rather in military courts, which according to Amnesty lnternational “systematically fail to meet international standards of fair trial, and where the vast majority of cases end in conviction”. Hafez would probably have spent the rest of his life in prison, had it not been for the videos recorded by Palestinian and internationalist activists on the scene, which clearly showed that he had been the victim of the attack. The charges were dropped, and after recovering Hafez was able to go home to his family.