Settlers arrive to the Azzeh family land – Photographs by Vicky Blackwell
Today, a group of settlers from the illegal settlement in Tel Rumeida arrived at Hashem Azzeh’s olive grove next to his house, whilst he and his family were harvesting their olives, yelling for everyone to get off of “their” land.
Hasham and his family were on their land harvesting olives for the first time in 5 years after being granted permission from the District Civil Liaison. He was accompanied by several members of his family as well as activists from the International Solidarity Movement. The situation quickly escalated as settlers pushed the Palestinians in order to try and enter Hasham’s house.
Within ten minutes the soldiers arrived and began to separate the Palestinian family and internationals and siding with the Israeli settlers. Arguments continued with both sides yelling “this is my land,” regardless of the fact that Hashem has the deeds to the land. The settlers were also heard shouting “This is not your land, this is the land of the Jewish people.”
At this point around ten more settlers had come down and joined in, shouting abuse at Hasham and his family. The soldiers pushed the Palestinians and internationals back towards Hasham’s house threatening to arrest anyone who did not obey. The soldiers grabbed a young Palestinian man by the name of Ahmad Al Atrash who was video taping standing behind international activists: pushed him against the wall and zip-tied his arms behind his back.
Then they went after an International activist trying to arrest him for taking video footage. While trying to escape they grabbed another of the International activists standing by, put him in a headlock on the ground and arrested him. Jawad Abu Eisheh who had arrived in solidarity with his neighbors was also captured and arrested.
The district of Tel Rumeida is heavily militarized and contains the homes of both Israeli settlers and Palestinians. Hasham’s family moved to Tel Rumeida in 1950 after being forcibly removed from their homes in what is now Israel. The Tel Rumeida settlement was installed in 1984.
In an attack in 2006 the settlers smashed Hasham’s nephews’ teeth in with a stone. That same year his wife (3 months pregnant at the time) was attacked and subsequently miscarried. Again in 2006 she was attacked, this time 4 months pregnant, and again, suffered from a miscarriage due to the attack.
The settlers living directly over Hasham’s house have also in the past raided his house, (bullet-holes near his front door show when the settlers shot live ammunition at his house), they cut his water-pipes and poisoned his water tank, cut his trees down in his garden and have physically attacked and assaulted him and his family as well as breaking-into and vandalizing his house on several occasions.
Previous reports on settler violence against the Azzeh family:
- Israeli army turns Palestinian homes in Hebron into military barracks (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Meet Zionist Miriam Levinger (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The Israeli occupation forces have turned the roofs of Palestinian homes in the ancient city of Hebron, south of the West Bank, into military barracks and control points under the pretext of providing security for Jewish settlers during the Hebrew celebrations of the Sukkot Feast.
Human rights sources in the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee reported that a large number of Israeli forces took over the roofs of several Palestinian homes along the lanes of the old town. These houses, including the family home of the Islam Al-Fakhouri in Al-Sahla area, have been turned into military barracks and control towers while the families have been forced to leave.
Israeli soldiers also commandeered the roofs of the Abdulmutallab Abu Sunaina, Imran Abu Rumaila, Daoud Jaber, Nader Salaymeh and AliAl-Rajabi households turning them into control points.
Sources also point out that the regions extending between the settlement of Kiryat Arba, the Cave of the Patriarchs, Tel Rumeida, Al-Shuhada, Al-Ras, and Wadi El-H’aseen streets; and the areas of Al-Masharqa Al-Fawqa and Tahta, are subjected to a blanket Israeli police and army presence.
- Army Kidnaps Two Palestinians In Hebron (imemc.org)
- Soldiers Kidnap A Child In Hebron (imemc.org)
- Israeli high court rejects south Hebron village petition (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Settler’s Vehicle Rams Child in Hebron Hit and Run (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Physically Attack Palestinian Youth In Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Settlers Invade Palestinian Home In Hebron, Attack Family Members (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Four Residents, Including Two Children, Kidnapped By The Army In Hebron (imemc.org)
- Hebron: Soldiers invade Kultuba School, attempt arrest 2 sixth grade students (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Kidnap A Child playing near the Ibrahimi mosque In Al-Khalil (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
Just below the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba, situated on the the eastern outskirts of Al Khalil (Hebron) is the Palestinian area of ar-Ras.
A quick online search of the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba provides general knowledge on the founding history and how it has been subject to Palestinian resistance since 1981 but fails to inform the reader of the consequences for the indigenous Palestinians living nearby the relatively large (ca. 7000 inhabitants) settlement. Nor will one find written that such colonies are considered illegal by international law as confirmed by the International Court of Justice. Nor of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994 which was committed against Palestinians by an Israeli settler from the same area.
Hebron residents regularly speak with the International Solidarity Movement about constant violent attacks by the settlers, land expropriation by Israeli policies, lack of freedom of movement and the requirement of special permits for car use, lack of running water, and demolitions.
In 2006, Palestinian landlord Fayiz Arajar began the construction of a large building intended to house a dozen shops and several families. The building is formidably situated, overlooking the olive grove of the ar-Ras area and the distant white houses of Al Khalil, flickering in the heat.
In 2007, as the project was nearly completed, Israeli settlers occupied the building. Subsequent to a high court decision to evict them, settlers from across the West Bank gathered in the house ready to defend their illegal takeover of the building. The eviction deadline was set to December 4, 2007 by the high court.
The week leading to the deadline was tense. Israeli settlers vandalized the Palestinian cemetery, burned Palestinian cars, and attacked Palestinian houses. The escalation in such attacks came due to the arrival of thousands of illegal settlers in support of the squatters. They succeeded in fighting the eviction force. Israeli authorities simply refrained from further attempts to remove them and, as seen before, allowed the story to twist from that of property theft to a question of security (of the settlers). In recent years, Israel has even decided to erect a military checkpoint for Palestinian pedestrians in the interest of ‘protecting’ the settlers.
Muhammed Al-Jabari ‘Abu Naim’ and his family live in a house about 100 metres from the occupied building. On May 28 of this year, they began to build an extra floor ontop of their house. The family of 15 members needed more space.
Settlers from a nearby recently occupied house repeatedly attacked the building project underway by Abu Naim. Subsequently, Abu Naim was banned by Israeli authorities from continuing construction.
With reference to the Oslo accords (Annex 1, article XII) Palestinians are not allowed to build within 50 metres of security roads. In Abu Naim’s case, a security road was announced with the construction of a new military checkpoint in the area. The legal value of Abu Naim’s construction permit was overruled although his house is far from the 50 meter no-construction zone. The land on which the house was built 14 years ago has belonged to the Al-Jabari family since before the Israeli occupation in 1967.
For now, the mid-construction upper floor is left as an empty shell without windows or doors. Israeli bulldozers are on stand by to demolish the entire house should Abu Naim continue construction.
Prevention and annexation of resources
Across the olive grove and by Kiryat Arba’s barbed wire fence lives Kayid Dana and his brothers. Another stunning view embraces you from just outside their house, disrupted only by a looming Israeli watchtower. Most of the occupied West Bank is spotted with these grey towers. Watching from their windows, the ever present occupation, reminding Palestinians that privacy is a luxury that few, if any, enjoy.
The Dana family has been living on the same land for over 50 years. In 1958, the Israeli authorities repetitively offered them money to leave the house and make room for the growing illegal settlement. The family refused and nonetheless Israeli forces bulldozed half of their garden.
As of June 24, the Dana family has been without water. Israeli authorities prevented water trucks from entering the area to refill their water tanks. As a result, Kavid and his family are relegated to pump water from an unsanitary well outside their home. This is where they encounter the next problem: water is only available for a couple of hours each day. This is not enough to supply their 4 camels (100 liters/day) and the most basic household needs.
North of the Dana family home, through the olive groves, lives the Abdul Hay family (Abu Hossni). Their windows are fenced to prevent Israeli settlers from shattering the glass with the stones they throw. On December 4, the family was subject to a vicious attack that left 3 with dumdum (expanding bullet) wounds. Dumdum bullets are a type of live ammunition that enter the body, expand, and cause permanent injuries or death. Although dumdum bullets have been known to be used by Israeli settlers, they are illegal according to international law.
Jamal Abu Saifan, who lives in the area, captured the incident on his camera and explains how a lightly injured Israeli settler was choppered away 15 minutes after his injury, whereas the 3 Palestinians wounded by gunfire, one critically, waited 3 hours for an ambulance.
The ambulance attempting to reach them was stopped and denied entry to the area by Israeli forces.
Unfortunately, settler attacks are far from rare and have been occurring since Kiryat Arba was established in 1968. The purpose of these violent attacks, and the army violence and policies that accompany them, are not only to injure people and destroy their lands. That is only a strategic measure to reach an ultimate goal: the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
The next step by Kiryat Arba is the construction of a new road which will divide the vital Palestinian olive groves down the middle. The road will be inaccessible to Palestinians, not only preventing Palestinians from tending to their trees on the other side, but annexing further land, expropriating an economic necessity, and making life more difficult for the indigenous Palestinians.
Despite the collection of circumstances to make life difficult, all the families in the area have made the choice to remain on their land despite the uncertainty and pressures of their everyday life under Israeli occupation.
- Hebron: Over 30 detained (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- French activist injured as Israeli troops attack Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Renegade Jewish Settlers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian stabbed, shot in settler attack near Nablus (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Hebron: Israeli settlers occupy Palestinian home (alethonews.wordpress.com)
DCIPS | April 20, 2010
On 13 July 2009, Jameel (16) and two electricians were to his home when they heard the sound of weapons being cocked and an Israeli soldier saying stop, you mother***r. The four Israeli soldiers verbally abused Jameel, took his ID and broke his mobile phone. Family members soon arrived as they had heard the bews. After several minutes the soldiers marched Jameel toward Ramat Yeshai settlement and told his mother and cousin that it was a closed area and they would be shot at if they followed them, after telling them moments before “go back you whores.”
At a checkpoint near the settlement. Jameel was blindfolded and had his hands tied with plastic cords. He was forced to stand near the checkpoint as 40-50 settlers threw stones and brutally beat him, including punching him in the neck, causing the boy extreme pain and nausea. They also verbally abused him calling him a son of a whore and a motherf***er. Soldiers also brutally beat him. His head was smashed into the ground knocking him unconscious. Jameels family witnessed some of the abuse and his father captured part of the incident on a camera given to him by BTselem. A BTselem fieldworker was also present.
Eventually an officer cut the plastic ties and told Jameel that he could go. He walked away and then was ordered to stop. Grabbing Jameels chin, the officer said: “If you tell the Israeli police or the press or human rights organizations about what happened, I’ll kill you or shoot you from a distance if I can’t reach you.” Jameel went to Ahlia hospital for medical treatment. After leaving the hospital he and his father went to file a complaint at the police station in Kiryat Arba settlement. They were told to come back the next day which they did. They met with an interrogator and signed a paper in Hebrew that allegedly contained what they had said. Following the attack, Jameel suffered from insomnia and feels scared and unsafe around his neighbourhood.
Name: Izat J.
Date of Incident: 10 March 2012
Location: Hebron, occupied West Bank
Nature of Incident: Settler/soldier violence/detention
On 10 March 2012, a 16-year-old boy from Hebron is attacked by an Israeli border policeman and then detained at Kiryat Arba’s police station after his family’s mule cart is stolen by settlers.
“I live in the old city of Hebron, about 100 metres from the Ibrahimi Mosque [burial site of Abraham],” says 16-year-old Izat. “There is an Israeli checkpoint about 30 metres from us, and the settlers who live in the settlement of Kiryat Arba use the street in front of our house to go to the shrine.”
At around 11:00 am on Saturday, 10 March 2012, “my mother looked out the window and saw around 10 settlers stealing my father’s mule cart,” explains Izat. “There were soldiers at the checkpoint and in the street but they stood by and did not intervene.”
Izat rushed outside and saw that the settlers had left the cart in the street near the soldiers. His father was arguing with the soldiers because he wanted to take the cart back to the house, but the soldiers would not allow him until the settlers were finished with their Saturday prayers. “That could be at around 8:00 pm,” says Izat, “so I started arguing with the soldiers and I told them we would not leave without the mule cart.”
A border policeman standing at the checkpoint suddenly approached and started beating Izat. “Without any prior warning,” says Izat, “he started punching me in the face and knocked me down. Then, he kicked me hard in the head, chest and legs, and called me ‘Arab trash‘ and other names. I was shouting in pain and trying to get up, but he kept kicking me while I was still lying on the ground. [...] My mouth was bleeding.”
Another police officer arrived at the scene and ordered the policeman to stop beating Izat. “Why did you hit the boy? It’s against the rules,’” the officer said to the policeman. “After that they tied my hands behind my back very tightly with two plastic cords. It was very painful. They did the same to my father and my cousin,” says Izat.
Izat, his father and his cousin were taken to the police station inside the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Their hands were untied and they were taken for interrogation. “The interrogator asked me about the incident and I told him about the settlers and the argument we had with the soldiers,” recalls Izat. “I also told him that the policeman had beaten me hard. [...] The interrogator said he had spoken to the border policeman who assaulted me, and that the policeman said that I had pushed and insulted him first. I told him that was not true; that the policeman assaulted me as soon as he arrived at the scene, before we even spoke.”
After interrogating Izat, his father and his cousin, the interrogator told them that the three of them were under arrest until the following day. “He said we were under arrest based on the statement of the border policeman, who accused me of insulting him and pushing him first,” says Izat.
Izat’s father begged the officer to let Izat go so he could go to the hospital. After consulting with his superior, the officer agreed to release Izat on 500 shekels bail. “I was taken to ‘Alia Hospital,” says Izat. “They gave me first aid and treated my wounds. Luckily, I did not have any internal injury. I only sustained bruises to my head and shoulders, and an injury in my mouth.”
Izat’s father filed a complaint against the border policeman who assaulted Izat, and was released later that night. His cousin, however, was detained in Etzion interrogation centre for eight days. Izat’s trial in a military court has been scheduled for September 2012.
- The massacre of 1929 and the War of Narratives (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Settlers Attack Two Towns Near Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Demanding justice for Yousef, a quiet boy killed by Israeli settlers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Hebron teen ‘shot by Israeli settler’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Settler Violence: Broken Glass on Shuhada Street (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Settlers Install New Outpost Near Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Medics: Toddler hit by settler car (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Settlers Attack Internationals Accompanying School Children on Shuhada Street (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- International Solidarity Movement volunteers encounter settler attack and sexual harassment in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Brutality: Violent arrests of Palestinians in Hebron and disappearance of Dutch volunteer (alethonews.wordpress.com)