Hebron, Occupied Palestine – One international was arrested after settlers fenced off the Asseh family home for a second day in a row in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida area.
Yesterday, early Saturday morning, settlers tied a fence across the exit of the Asseh family home with a wire gate to prevent them from leaving for a second day. After the family and internationals removed the gate, settler children threw rocks, water and water mixed with faeces at them. Two Israeli soldiers stood close and did nothing. The police arrived but also took no action despite being informed of what had happened.
Within an hour of the Asseh family and the internationals dispersing, the gate had been reassembled and reinforced. One adult male settler stood over the gate and prevented anyone from passing through or disassembling it. After 20 minutes the Asseh family and internationals finally managed to remove the gate despite repeated physical attacks by the settler. A number of internationals sustained minor injuries. During this, soldiers continued to stand by and do nothing.
The police arrived and first questioned the settler and then two soldiers who were present. After being shown video footage by an international, police demanded that four internationals accompany them to the police station to file a complaint. When the internationals requested to file the complaint later, police became violent and arrested one international. Other internationals were thrown to the ground by police and soldiers who assisted the arrest. The arrested international was eventually released after being questioned in the police station at the illegal settlement of Givat Havot.
Illegal settlers prevent family from leaving their home and attack internationals whilst Israeli soldiers watch
Yesterday, 11th October at 7 pm, a group of settlers of the illegal settlement of Tel Rumeida surrounded the entrance of the Azzeh family property and built a wire fence to block the exit. Young settlers fixed the fence in place using plastic cable ties.
Hashem Azzeh and his family were about to leave the house when they found the gate blocking their way and the settlers confronted them saying they couldn’t go out that way any more. A group of Israeli soldiers were present but did not stop the action.
Two international activists arrived on the scene and were surrounded by settlers and physically and verbally attacked by them, one of them had water thrown over his camera and another was kicked. An international journalist also present was hospitalized after a settler threw bleach into her eyes. After more international activists arrived, they managed to remove the fence. Despite multiple appeals to the Israeli soldiers to prevent the settler violence by both the Azzeh family and the international activists, they took no action. Jewish Defense League leader Baruch Marzel, was left free to verbally attack Hashem Azzeh.
The Azzeh family has long been a target of settler intimidation and harassment. Last Thursday during the night settlers trespassed on the Azzeh family property and stole about 400 Kilos of olives from 40 olive trees. Hashem Azzeh had been prevented from starting his olive harvest pending a permit from the Israeli Civil Administration. Four days after his olive trees had been raided, he was suddenly informed by the administration that he should start his harvest immediately, but unfortunately he doesn’t have any olive trees left.
On 23 September 2013, in response to the death of Israeli soldier Staff Sgt. Gal Kobi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for illegal settlement expansion in the Old City of Hebron.
At 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday 24 September, the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron received reports from the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee that Israeli settlers had re-occupied the Abu Rajib house west of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Settlers had been evicted from the building in April of 2012.
The resettlement of the Abu Rajib house is a direct and significant risk to the community of Hebron, international law, and human rights, as settlements are illegal under international law and impede the ongoing peace process.
In addition to the illegality of the settlement, the location of Abu Rajib will constitute a severe threat to the freedom of movement for Palestinians. The house sits between two Palestinian Schools and Israeli military checkpoint 209, which CPT monitors every morning as part of its school patrol. If the settlement remains, it will be in the middle of an area hundreds of Palestinian children must pass each morning to attend classes.
Over the past week of the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth, the Israeli military has increased its presence with additional soldiers on the ground, occupying Palestinian homes and turning them into military outposts in and around the area of the Abu Rajib house. As a result, school attendance at Al-Faihaa girl’s school and Al-Ibrahimmiye has dropped.
On Monday, 23 September, the Al-Faihaa girl’s school was shut down completely since so few students were able to attend classes. The added Israeli military presence installed around the settlement will continue this trend.
Israeli settlement expansion has led to several cases of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, including near the settlement of Tel Rumeida.
“For the residents of Tel Rumeida, living next to settlers means living under constant threat of attack,” said a representative from the human rights observer organization, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). “The Abu Shamsiyeh family who live in Tel Rumeida is particularly vulnerable to attacks, as settlers and Jewish tourists tend to enter their roof and even invade their garden without permission. Most use this private Palestinian roof to enjoy the view of the city, but incidents have occurred where settlers threw stones and garbage down at the family, urinating into their garden and verbally harassing the family.
“Last month, settler youth entered the family’s garden, threw stones at them, and beat their thirteen-year old son. When Abu Shamsiyeh asked the soldier stationed outside their house for help, he came down and watched as settlers kicked Abu Shamsiyeh, and another soldier pushed his wife, who was videoing the incident, to the ground.”
If the Abu Rajib settlement is allowed to stay, in breach of international law and during the ongoing peace negotiations, the rise in settler violence against Palestinian youth and adults will escalate.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Sukkot is a joyful festival in Judaism; however its impact upon day-to-day life in Khalil has only caused greater problems for the Palestinians. Many residents of Khalil have commented that it is during this holiday period every year where daily life in the city becomes all the more difficult.
Last week soldiers began preparations for taking over a house next to the container checkpoint 209 (Quatoum/Abu Rish), which belongs to a Palestinian family. The family received a military order informing them that this house would be occupied by the Israeli army until Tuesday 24th September, the end of Sukkot. Due to the large number of Jewish tourists visiting Hebron during Sukkot, reinforcement brigades have been sent to Hebron, and due to lack of accommodation for these additional soldiers, the army decided to take over this Palestinian house and use it as a military base for the duration of the holiday. Residents of this area have stated that since the soldiers began occupying the house, child detainment and arrests have increased, and there are further concerns that checkpoint 209 may be moved in an attempt to increase control in the surrounding area.
Today, Saturday 21st September, several clashes and attacks took place between settler youth and Palestinian children and teenagers in Tel Rumeida. Additionally, as on every Shabbat, settlers invaded the roof of the Abu Shamsiyeh family and verbally attacked international activists who, at the request of the family, were monitoring the entrance to the roof as it is often entered without family permission. In the past, settlers have attacked the family by throwing stones, spitting at, beating members of the family and urinating into their garden.
On Friday 20th September, clashes erupted in the afternoon as Palestinian youths threw stones at checkpoint 56. After the PA (responsible for this area of Hebron which is part of H1) chased away the stone-throwers, the clashes moved into the OldCity and souq of Hebron, which is part of H2 and thus under Israeli military control. Throughout Friday evening and most of Saturday, Palestinian youths were throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, whilst Israeli soldiers responded with sound grenades, teargas and rubber-coated steel bullets. International activists witnessed border police shooting teargas canisters directly at protesters, as opposed to shooting it in an arch as they are supposed to under Israeli army regulations. Further clashes are expected tomorrow as settlers and Jewish tourists invade area H1.
On Sunday 22nd and Monday 23rd September, tens of thousands of Jewish tourists are expected to descend upon Hebron for Sukkot celebrations. On important Jewish holidays, there is a tradition of the settler community, alongside Jewish tourists, visiting a house in H1 (the Palestinian-controlled part of Hebron) which they claim used to be the home of a rabbi and thus holds religious significance. The Israeli military has ordered the closure of the road outside checkpoint 56 leading to Yatta between 10am and 3pm on Sunday 22nd September. The house that the settlers and Jewish tourists pilgrim to is located on said road, however it is the first time ever that the Israeli military has formally ordered the closure of the road and the shops located there. This order is a clear violation of the Hebron Agreement, signed in 1997 by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, which divided the city into areas H1 and H2 under Palestinian and Israeli military control respectively.
“They consider us as the enemy. These are extreme settlers.”
Hishem, a Palestinian, sits with us in the shade of an olive tree in front of his home in Wadi al Hussein, Hebron. His children are playing on the hill behind us, and directly behind them stands the vast Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba. There, a man – a settler – is standing on his balcony watching us.
It is hard to know where to start when trying to explain the settlers of Hebron. They are at the heart of the problems here. One of my first encounters with them was on my second proper day of work, when I was walking down Shuhada Street and found myself on the wrong end of an egg thrown by a little settler boy of 7 or 8 years old. One of the local shopkeepers, Munir, has now nicknamed me ‘Umm Baydah’ or ‘Mother Egg’, for being the first of my group to be hit by one. He said “now you are a Palestinian”, and told me to start a tally count.
You might think, what kind of parents give their children things to throw at people walking down the street? But eggs are the least of it. Hishem’s extended family has been attacked, had their windows smashed, their homes set on fire and even been shot by their settler neighbours.
The settlers of Hebron are a religiously motivated group of Israeli Jews who occupy four areas, known as settlements, in the centre of H2 (Israel-controlled), Hebron, and two settlements in the Wadi where Hishem lives. They are known for their willingness to use violence, harassment and intimidation against those they perceive to be standing in the way of them achieving their goals, which are primarily to rid the city of Palestinians. The settlers never refer to Palestinians, always to Arabs because they deny that there was ever such a place as Palestine or such a people as the Palestinians. They say that the Palestinians should leave and go to one of “their own” Arab countries.
All settlements, including those in East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law. Every country in the world recognises this except Israel. From some of my stories so far, it might seem like there is one set of rules for Israelis and one for Palestinians. That’s because there actually is. In the West Bank the Israeli authorities enforce Israeli civil law on settlers, but military law on Palestinians.
The settlers believe in Eretz Israel – greater Israel – that Israel should permanently encompass the Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These are the areas currently occupied and/ or controlled by the Israeli army. Some settlers believe that Israel’s borders should stretch even further afield than this into other countries. Their beliefs contradict all international understandings of where Israel’s borders should be.
These are the nuts and bolts of the daily battle being played out in H2. Everything is about who owns what, who can walk or drive where, even who can stand where. Hebron is the only city in the West Bank to have Israeli settlers living in its centre. The city is of religious significance because it is where Abraham and his sons and their wives lived, and are buried. It is the second holiest site for Jews, the fourth holiest site for Muslims, and is also of significance to Christians.
The settlers believe that they are doing God’s work in ridding Hebron of Palestinians, and dream of turning it into a Jewish city. But I don’t know of any God that would approve of their behaviour. Ironically, there tends to be most trouble on Friday nights and Saturdays – the Jewish Sabbath. One of my jobs is to be present whilst hundreds of settlers walk from Kiryat Arba through a Palestinian neighbourhood to pray at the synagogue on a Friday night. Dozens of extra soldiers are bussed in to protect them but some of the settlers carry their own rifles too. I find it quite bizarre, and certainly one of the least holy sights I have ever seen.
On the Sabbath last week, a colleague from another international organisation saw a group of teenage settler girls spitting at a group of Palestinian girls on Shuhada Street. Again, not so holy. I met Nadar, Noocha and their family, who showed me their windows which were smashed by settlers. They live next to the synagogue in Hebron. A Palestinian I meet called Hani tells me he does not believe that the settlers follow the true Jewish faith.
The settlers seem to be willing to do almost anything to achieve their aims. This short film clip, from Israeli human rights organisation BT’Selem, first shows one of the settlers explaining things for herself, and then some of her actions. At least watch the first 2 minutes if you can – I’m pretty sure you’ll be shocked.
You might have noticed the solider standing by whilst the settler abuses her neighbour and then the solider pushing the Palestinian woman, rather than dealing with the settler children attacking her home. Palestinians often report that soldiers do nothing whilst settlers are on the attack. I have already seen for myself the close relations between many settlers and soldiers, with settlers bringing food and drinks to soldiers throughout the day, and even settler children playing in military watch points whilst soldiers are on duty there.
In March this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said,
“settler violence continues to be perpetrated with impunity… Israel needs to hold perpetrators accountable. While investigations are not opened into most incidents of settler violence, between 2005 and 2011, only 9 per cent of the investigations opened resulted in an indictment.”
Hani, Reema and their family live just past the caged house in that BT’Selem film clip, by the settlement of Tel Rumeida. They have to walk past the settlement and through the yard of an Israeli army base to get to their house. They can’t take a car to their house. They have been harassed and attacked by their neighbours many times. The settlers have even tried to burn down their home, and have come in the night to smash it up. About a month ago, they tried to burn down the family’s 300 olive trees for the ninth time, scorching the land, and making some of it impossible to harvest this year. Burning and chopping down olive trees is a common tactic of settlers across the West Bank.
“Aren’t you frightened?” I ask Reema and she replies, “At the start we were frightened but now we are used to it.”
One of our duties on the Sabbath is to spend time sitting on the roof of the Abu Shamsiya family’s home in H2. The flat roof of the family’s home backs onto Shuhada Street, and has a small Israeli army watchtower on it which does not appear to be used at present. From the roof you can look out across the city of Hebron, and down onto the family’s terrace below. The terrace has a cage around it to try and stop the family being struck by objects thrown by settlers on the roof. In the past, these objects have included eggs (they seem to be a favourite) and stones, and settlers have even urinated on them.
So the reason for our presence is to deter settlers from coming onto the roof. The first time I sat there, we prevented three settler groups from coming onto the roof. A teenage boy in one of them had a rifle slung across his person. On Tuesday, we were unable to prevent one settler coming onto the family’s roof when we were there. He pointed at the view of the Palestinian city, “This is Israel” he said. ”It’s Palestine” I said. “Lo” (no) he said. Another group that my colleague saw gestured at the view of the Palestinian city and said “All of this will be Jewish”.
Virtually every Palestinian home in H2 has a kind of cage across the windows to try to guard against settler attacks. It is hard to get used to seeing children waving and shouting hello to us from behind these cages.
On Monday last week when I was doing the lunchtime school run (accompanying Palestinian children to Cordoba School down Shuhada Street) about 150 settlers, most of them teenagers, arrived apparently on some kind of tour. Remember – they can go anywhere in H2 but the Palestinians are very restricted as to where they can even walk. The settlers were congregating at the bottom of the school steps. When it came time for the kids to go home from school, many of them were scared to go down the stairs because of the settlers. I walked up and down the steps with them, to try to make them feel more secure, and it seemed to give them confidence to be able to get home. Although the truth is that I had no way of knowing whether the settlers would cause trouble. Luckily, the worst they did was to stare at us all, and shout and throw things at the feet of my male colleague who arrived to help me.
Not all Israeli settlers are religious extremists like those in Hebron. Some, who live in settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem for example, are economically motivated. They are attracted by the housing subsidies that the Israeli government provides in many settlements.
Wherever they are located though, there is no doubt that the settlers and settlement expansion, are a major barrier to peace between Israel and Palestine.
Hani and his son have both spent time in prison for retaliating when settlers have attacked them. But Hani tells me that he now believes in non-violent resistance because it gets more positive results. He says it helps him to separate hatred for a policy from hatred for a people, and believes that it can help those in other countries, especially Jews, to see what is happening here.
You might ask, how do the Palestinians put up with this? Why don’t they give up? How can they carry on living where they do, facing such violence and harassment on a daily basis? I asked a few of the people I met whether they would ever think of leaving,
“At the end of the day, it’s our right to our land,” says Hani.
“We are here, and we will stay here. This is our land.” says Hishem.
“We will stay here in a tent if we have to, we will not leave,” says another.
Many of them could not afford to go elsewhere, and where would they go anyway? Over 60% of the West Bank is directly under Israeli control. And many of them, like Hishem’s family, have already been refugees once from the time that the State of Israel was created. And why should they leave? As international law confirms, this IS their land.
But there is another reason, one which is about the Palestinians as a people.
The truth is that they must not leave if the dream of having a Palestinian state is ever to be realised. The settlers and the soldiers must not succeed in cleansing Hebron – or anywhere else in the West Bank – of Palestinians.
I hope that my presence here, and that of my EAPPI colleagues, somehow helps to make it a tiny bit easier for them to stay. One man tells me, “When settlers see people like you they are less likely to cause problems, especially on a Friday and Saturday.” And Hani says, “Before, we were alone as Palestinians with the Israelis but because of the internationals – people like you – we have witnesses to the violence of the settlers. This makes things a bit better for us.”
Just knowing that makes being here worthwhile.
- Four young boys arrested and beaten in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers assault a twelve-year-old Palestinian while settlers invade family rooftop in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- “Shabbat shalom” – no peace for Palestinians in Hebron this Saturday (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Yom Kippur – Illegal Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmer attempting to harvest almonds (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli settlers torch Hebron family’s property for eighth time (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Saturday August 3rd was not a peaceful Saturday for the Palestinians in Hebron. At approximately 16.30 two settlers invaded the roof of the Abu Shamsiya family in Tel Rumeida, whilst three soldiers attacked a twelve year old boy in the street nearby.
When the settlers on the roof were approached by internationals and told that they were on private property and therefore had to leave, they refused and said they came there every week. The fact that they had entered a private home without consent of the family did not concern them, on the contrary they expressed that they felt it was their right. When asked to leave the settlers behaved aggressively by yelling and continuously refusing to do so. After having argued with internationals one of the settlers threatened to lie to the soldiers and say that they had been hit by the internationals. He argued that even though it was not true, the soldiers would believe him over the international activists.
As seen in the video below, in the meantime three Israeli soldiers assaulted three young boys just down the street. The soldiers started by harshly pushing one boy, afterwards they grabbed a second boy, Islam by the hair and kicked him. Thereafter a third boy ran to his house chased by the soldiers. When internationals asked why the military was chasing the boy, they lied and said the boys had been throwing stones. The boy said that he had simply ran because he was scared after having seen his twelve-year-old friend, Islam being brutally attacked by soldiers for no apparent reason.
These are not unusual events. The Abu Shamsiya family is often victim of settler and military harassment, the family’s roof is on street level and settlers often go there to throw stones, harass the family and break their property. Saturdays are particularly violent in Hebron, only last week both Abu Shamsiya and his son Muhammed were attacked by settlers whilst the military was watching, with Abu Shamsiya then being arrested on false charges while the settlers were freed without charges.
Hebron has large settlements in the middle of the city housing approximately 500 settlers some of whom are extremely aggressive and violent. Additionally there are 2500 Israeli occupation soldiers stationed in the city.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Stone and egg-throwing, beating and kicking, headscarves torn off and an arrest based on two soldiers lying. This sunny Saturday in Hebron (Al-Khalil) was all about settler youth attacking innocent Palestinians and internationals while soldiers looked the other way.
Today, 27th of July, the Shabbat started as usual in Hebron with the settler tour through the Old City. A group of settlers surrounded by soldiers entered the Old City through the Peace Garden and went through the streets, preventing Palestinians from passing. The soldiers invaded several Palestinian houses in order to access the roofs. After an hour, the “tour” left the Old City through the entrance to Beit Romano settlement.
Later, at around 4pm, whilst walking down Shuhada Street international activists had stones thrown at them by two settler teenage boys. When they returned an hour later, they were attacked again by settler youths who jumped at them and violently pulled off their headscarves outside Beit Hadassah settlement. When the internationals complained to the soldier stationed at the nearby checkpoint, he showed no sympathy and said his job was only to protect the Jews living in Hebron.
About half an hour later, three international activists were passing by the Qurtoba School when a masked settler ran up the hill towards them, throwing eggs. One activist was hit in the face with two eggs whilst soldiers looked on from the watchtower above the school – they took no action against the settlers saying only “What do you want us to do?”
At around 6pm some settlers – who had previously been bathing in the Abraham spring close to the Islamic cemetery next to Shuhada Street whilst being guarded by a group of soldiers – tried to steal a home-made kite off two Palestinian kids. A Palestinian teenager managed to prevent them from taking it.
At around 6.30pm, a group of about thirty settler youths entered the property of the Abu Shamsiya family in Tel Rumeida. They threw stones at the family who were outside on the veranda preparing food for the iftaar fast-breaking meal. They also beat the 11-year old son of the family, Muhammad. When his father, Abu Shamsiya, went to the soldier stationed at the checkpoint just outside his house to complain and ask for help, the soldier simply told the settlers to go ahead and continue attacking the family.
A settler youth then ran up to Abu Shamsiya and violently kneed him in the stomach right in front of the soldier. Another soldier grabbed Abu Shamsiya’s wife Fayseh, who was filming the incident, by her hair and pulled her to the ground. The police, who happened to be parked in their car just up the road, finally decided to intervene. Abu Shamsiya complained against the two soldiers who had attacked him and his family and were complicit in the settler violence.
In a rare turn of events, the police believed Abu Shamsiya’s story – although the soldiers denied it – and took these two soldiers to the police station for further questioning. However, they did not arrest any of the settlers, who escaped into the Tel Rumeida settlement and the police chose not to follow them. The group of settler youths returned soon after and although Abu Shamsiya and various other eyewitnesses clearly pointed out the attackers to the police, they took no action.
Abu Shamsiya himself was later taken to the police station in order to file an official complaint and so that the police could examine his video footage of the incident. The Abu Shamsiya family were initially hopeful that this might lead to some positive result, but two hours later they got a phone call that Abu Shamsiya was now being detained in the police station on the charge of spitting at soldiers. Clearly the two soldiers whom he complained against wanted revenge and made up this story to incriminate him. His family is deeply worried and hopes he will be released by tomorrow.
During the same incident, which attracted a lot of onlookers outside Abu Shamsiya’s house, Palestinians, settlers and internationals alike, a settler woman who is notorious for being extremely aggressive and has attacked internationals and Palestinians on several occasions, started pushing and shouting at an international activist as well as pulling at her scarf to strangle her. This happened right in front of a group of soldiers who chose to just stand by and watch, and even mocked the international activist when she complained and asked whether they thought it was okay for her to get strangled in the middle of the street.
Although the settler attacks in Hebron are not always as numerous and severe as they were on this particular day, none of what happened today is new or unusual to the residents of Hebron. Hebron is the only West Bank city that has settlers living inside the city itself. It is home to a particularly extreme and aggressive settler community, numbering about 500, that constantly harasses, intimidates and attacks Palestinians with near impunity and the protection of about 2,500 Israeli occupation soldiers stationed in Hebron.
Update 28th July: Israeli authorities are demanding 1000NIS on bail to release Abu Shamsiya. He will have a court hearing soon (exact day still unknown).
- Jabari family once again facing harassment from settlers and soldiers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers invade two Palestinian houses – for training only (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Live ammunition shot at Youth Against Settlement house in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian activist detained in Israeli raid (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Last night, Israeli occupation soldiers invaded two houses in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, one being the Sumud house and the headquarters of the Palestinian human rights organisation Youth Against Settlements.
At 21:15 pm three groups consisting of four Israeli soldiers each invaded the Sumud house from different directions. The heavily armed soldiers took the residents of the house completely by surprise, as they had been sneaking through the nearby olive groves. After harassing the people at the Sumud house and creating some mess, the soldiers retreated into the olive groves, only to invade the neighbouring house’s back-garden using the latter to climb over the wall surrounding the property. The aim of the exercise is unclear but soldiers seemed to have practised how to break into a house.
Activists from Youth Against Settlements as well as the International Solidarity Movement who were present at the scene strongly believe the invasion to have been a training exercise, as the soldiers could not show a court order justifying the invasion, nor did they arrest anyone. The precise goal and nature of the exercise remain unclear. By 22pm, all soldiers had gone, leaving a trail of confusion and broken property.
Although this is the first time the Sumud house has been targeted in what is clearly a training excersise, such incidents are not uncommon in the H2 area of Hebron, where 35,000 Palestinians live under the constant presence and control of a couple of thousand Israeli soldiers. “I am not training material. I am not an object,” local human rights activist Issa Amro commented after the incident. Amro subsequently called the Israeli DCO (District Coordination Office), which did not seem to know about the harassment and were unable to offer any explanation for the invasion of the two houses.
- Father and 7-year-old son illegally detained in occupied Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jabari family once again facing harassment from settlers and soldiers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – The ISM team based in Hebron woke up last week to find that their Zionist settler neighbours had left a present for them on their doorstop. A tyre, a large piece of cloth and a stone were organised onto a pile just outside the apartment door, which according to our Palestinian neighbours, symbolises that they plan to set fire to the apartment.
Settler intimidation and violence towards ISM activists is not unusual, especially in central Hebron where roughly 500 settlers are “protected” by thousands of Israeli soldiers. The situation is particularly tense on and around Tel Rumeida where harassment of Palestinians is frequent as settlers, often armed with machine guns, share the same street.
Only two weeks ago an international was attacked by a settler, most likely because she was wearing a head scarf and several years ago an ISM activist had a bottle smashed on her face whilst settlers chanted “We killed Jesus and we will kill you”.
- Jewish settler’s ‘bio-war’ against the ancient city of Sabastiya (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Racist attacks are daily reality in Hebron , even for children (palsolidarity.org)
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – In the afternoon of the 24th March, two Palestinian Al Jazeera journalists arrived into Hebron to interview a Palestinian family living near the illegal Israeli settlement in the area of Tel Rumeida. When they arrived, settlers called the Israeli military and police, who arrived and confiscated the journalists’ ID cards, despite having seen their press credentials. The Al Jazeera reporters had their ID cards returned after around an hour, but two Hebron Palestinians who attempted to intervene on their behalf with police were arrested and removed in a police car. Their status is currently unknown and no reason was given for their arrest.
After the journalists were apprehended, police and settlers arrived into the area with rolls of barbed wire, informing another Palestinian resident that his primary access to the main road would be closed. Hashem Azzeh and his family live underneath the Tel Rumeida settlement, with their access to the main road running directly next to the settlement. This path has been repeatedly closed by the Israeli authorities since 2000, and was only opened most recently in late 2012 after extensive legal battles in the Israeli courts.
The police and settlers claimed today that the path would be closed because unapproved people had been walking along it. According to the Israeli authorities, only Hashem, his family and guests walking with them have permission to use the path. Hashem states that he has no knowledge of strangers using this route to access his house.
Without the path, Hashem and his family have to travel a much longer, rock-strewn and hazardous route to leave their home. Hashem said today, “I think they will close my access now, they will say it is for security reasons.” He thinks that the settlers used the arrival of the journalists and the subsequent confusion as a pretext to close his path and restrict his family’s movement, in further attempts to drive them from their home – they already face regular hassle from Israeli authorities and attacks from the settlers, including on Hashem’s young children.
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)
telrumeidaproject | Feb 2, 2011
Imagine that into your beautiful vibrant city moves this woman, who, along with her highly-funded terrorist friends, tries to take it over through genocide. This is the reality in Hebron, Palestine.
Meet Miriam Levinger, U.S. citizen from the Bronx, New York… the mother of the Israeli colonial settlers in the ‘West Bank’
Filmed in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, Palestine
To see the second video in this series, click here:
- Israeli army turns Palestinian homes in Hebron into military barracks (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Settlers Attack and Injure Palestinians Harvesting Olives in Tel Rumeida (palsolidarity.org)
- Hebron: Soldiers invade Kurtuba School, attempt arrest (palsolidarity.org)