Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Two international human rights defenders were arrested in Hebron (al-Khalil) yesterday morning, November 3rd, while six others were ordered to leave an apartment in the H2 neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida by threat of arrest.
The German and American nationals were arrested at 7.50am while monitoring checkpoint 56 at the entrance of Shuhada Street, after being seemingly arbitrarily denied access to checkpoint 55 further down the street. They were arrested while peacefully observing the checkpoint on allegations of ‘disturbing soldiers’ and being in a closed military zone after a soldier at the checkpoint made a complaint to officers in a passing police vehicle.
The internationals were denied their legal right to communicate with their embassies, and were only given water to drink at the police station after repeated requests. ‘We were scared about what was going to happen, but we were still so much better off than the Palestinian we heard being beaten by Israeli forces in the police station’ one of the women announced. They were released at 4.30pm, on agreeing to sign conditions barring them from Hebron for one week. Immediately before being released from the police station, the investigating officer actually admitted that there was ‘no evidence’ against them, but they were still being punished for the soldiers allegations.
Several hours later, other members of the team were prevented from passing through Checkpoint 56 which divides Tel Rumeida from the H1 area of Hebron, which is under full Palestinian authority. As of Saturday, 31st of October, when Tel Rumeida was declared a ‘closed military zone’ for 24 hours, both internationals’ and Palestinian movement through the area has been severely restricted. Residents were ordered to register their ID’s or risk being prevented from passing the checkpoints which intersect the entire district.
While official documentation of the zoning of Tel Rumeida has been conspicuously inconsistent recently, the activists were shocked this afternoon when their passports were confiscated and they were confronted with an order to leave the closed military zone which encapsulates their apartment. Israeli forces demanded that they immediately sign an absent legal contract declaring their residency in the area, or they would be forcibly removed and deported.
Checkpoint 55 is frequented by students from several school groups, who pass it on route to and from schools which abut the Tel Rumeida illegal settlement. It was blocked for passage last Sunday in what soldiers described as “new measures against terrorism.” For years now international agencies have been monitoring the impact of the occupation on the schoolchildren of Hebron however this work has been severely restricted in recent weeks, amid mounting tensions in the district.
A volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, a school teacher from Australia known as Phoebe, stated: “Will they never be satisfied? In the past month, Israeli forces have blatantly disregarded international law. They have performed extrajudicial executions of Palestinians in front of eyewitnesses with complete impunity.” She added: “We have been physically attacked on a daily basis by settlers in front of soldiers and police and then been ordered to leave, by threat of arrest for provoking them by our presence. We have been intimidated, harassed, abused, detained, and now this: arrest for our monitoring of human rights abuses on children and eviction for our presence in a fraught neighbourhood. Our presence is lawful and we believe more essential than ever.”
However, the internationals have stated their greatest concerns remain for the Palestinian residents of Tel Rumeida and the disturbing intensification of both settler violence and the physical manifestations of the occupation, including an expansion of infrastructure used to limit movement on the streets. Echoing concerns by local Palestinian residents, a Dutch volunteer stated that such measures have created an alarming sense that, “Hebron is being ghettoized.” He added, “if the international community does not react to this now then the illegal settlement will surely take over all of Tel Rumeida…This is what we are most afraid of.”
The internationals, from Holland, Italy, Britain, Germany, Unites States, Poland, France and Australia have vowed to return to their work of protective presence, monitoring and journalism in the district and consider this to be an appalling reflection on Israel’s supposedly democratic ideals.
HEBRON – Israeli forces on Tuesday morning stormed the offices of a Palestinian radio station in Hebron, where they destroyed equipment and ordered the station’s closure, in the latest violation of press freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Manbar al-Hurriyya (Freedom Tribune) radio station, which is reportedly affiliated with Fatah, wrote on its website that Israeli forces had destroyed equipment inside the offices and confiscated other equipment.
The soldiers then issued a military order notifying employees that the station was to be closed and its broadcast banned.
The Israeli army said in a statement that the station was shut down “as part of the ongoing battle against incitement.”
It continued: “Forces confiscated broadcasting equipment in order to prevent the incitement which has caused a flare of violence in the region over recent weeks.”
It accused the radio station of encouraging “stabbing attacks” and “violent riots,” and reporting “false and malicious claims of security forces executing and kidnapping Palestinians in order to provoke violence.”
The statement said that Israeli forces had shut down the station twice before, in 2002 and again in 2008.
The incident comes a day after a Palestinian press freedoms watchdog condemned more than 450 violations of media freedoms since the beginning of the year.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, known as MADA, said in a statement that it “condemns the ongoing violence against Palestinian journalists by the Israeli Occupying Forces,” including more than 100 violations in October alone.
It said that “continued impunity with lack of accountability” encouraged Israeli forces “to commit more crimes and assaults.”
The watchdog said that while press violations had not reached last year’s proportions, when 17 Palestinian journalists were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, violations had “witnessed an enormous escalation this year.”
The group called for accountability, but also for “preventing censorship and persecution of journalists and activists regarding their opinions and comments on social media.”
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Sunday, 1st November 2015, Israeli forces prevented movement of Palestinians in various areas in al-Khalil (Hebron) that have previously been declared a ‘closed military zone’. Violence against school-children and teachers has seen a sharp increase. International observers documenting and reporting on the every-day restrictions and crimes of the Israeli forces are increasingly targeted by the Israeli forces trying to silence any reporting.
In the morning, students were allowed to pass through the checkpoint without any major problems. Just three days ago, Israeli forces extrajudicially executed a Palestinian youth who was lying on the ground after already being shot and seriously injured by Israeli forces, from a close distance, at this checkpoint. Three Palestinian adults were denied passage through the checkpoint by the Israeli forces, who refused to give any reason for turning them back. When international observers wanted to pass through the checkpoint after documenting the body-search of a Palestinian man, they were stopped by border police that denied them passage through the checkpoint. When asked for a reason, Israeli forces refused to give any reason, but forced them to move away from the checkpoint.
In the afternoon, when international activists walked towards the Salaymeh checkpoint to secure the pupils and teachers a safe journey home from school, the border police immediately told the internationals: “If you go through, you will never be able to come back”. When asked why, they just responded “those are the orders”. The internationals chose not to go through the check point but to monitor it from the inside, standing ten meters from the checkpoint as is the limit for how far authorities can require that observers stand. As the law requires that any orders regarding ‘closed military zones’ be displayed with dates and maps of affected areas, the activists asked to see this order. Immediately, the officer standing closest to them yelled to the other police in Hebrew to “bring pepper spray and handcuffs”, so the activists were made to move back to a place where the check point was still within sight. After around ten minutes a car with two male settlers stopped at the check point and talked with the soldiers. After that the soldiers approached the activists telling them to move further back out of sight of the checkpoint. The activists were forced to leave due to fear of violence from the police.
At Queitun checkpoint this morning, approximately one hundred fifty children from several local schools remained outside after the start of school. Israeli Border police began shooting tear-gas grenades around 7:15 am, and very quickly shot thirteen rounds of tear-gas via grenades and canisters directly at dense clusters of pre-pubescent boys. Faces everywhere were red, swollen and tear-streaked.
Upon time to return home, four international human rights observers were denied passage through two checkpoints by Israeli forces first without explanation, and then on grounds that they had cameras in their possession, a restriction which is illegal by Israeli and international law.
In the afternoon, international observers were again denied their legal right to pass through the checkpoint without any reason.
This noon, children and teachers were prevented to return home by Shuada street by soldiers explaining the ‘closed military zone’ was ‘for security reasons’ and ‘a new measures against terrorism’. They stayed on the stairs, blocked by the army for nearly one hour. In the same time, four settlers including Anat Cohen and one who filmed with his phone convinced the soldiers to push the children back. Because of the children and teachers refusing to leave – as they were not allowed to proceed on the stairs – soldiers called the police. After a long talk with the four settlers who didn’t want to leave the stairs and insulted the director and the children, the soldiers and the police finally authorized the children to go home and walk through Shuada Street in small groups of children and teachers. Israeli forces at the checkpoint threatened the children to walk faster, pointing their loaded guns at them.
Settler Anat Cohen making fun of school-children denied passage on their way home
School-children blocked on the stairs by Israeli forces
School-children finally allowed to go home after more than an hour of wait
Whereas in the morning, an actual order for a ‘closed military zone’ was still in place, the order was only valid from Saturday morning 8 am till Sunday morning 8am and thus not valid for the end of the school day.
‘Closed military zone’ order Photo credit: Youth Against Settlements
The order for a closed military zone is a clear infringement on Palestinians freedom of movement and clearly only geared towards exactly this aim. Whereas Palestinians all over the areas declared ‘closed’ are forced to undergo constant body-searches, detentions, ID- and bag-searches and are randomly denied access on the soldiers whims, settlers from the illegal settlements within al-Khalil (Hebron) are allowed to freely roam the streets without being stopped at any time. International observers documenting and reporting are facing yet another instance in which Israeli authorities are making determined strides to completely rid Al-Khalil of any witnesses for the myriad and worsening ways in which they violate the basic rights of Palestinians on a daily basis.
All these measures clearly illustrate the real aim of the latest escalations in violence geared towards instilling fear in the Palestinian residents and ultimately force them to leave the area.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – This morning at Qurtuba school in al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli soldiers harassed school-children, teachers and adults trying to pass the nearby checkpoint.
The stairs leading to Qurtuba school, the scene of a heinous murder of a Palestinian youth by Israeli forces three days ago, are directly opposite a checkpoint dividing segregated Shuhada Street into a small strip where Palestinian residents are allowed to walk and the former main Palestinian market now completely closed for Palestinians and only allowed for settlers. The school has, due to its proximity to the illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah been a flashpoint of settler attacks and violence against Palestinians and internationals.
As teachers, school-children and parents are equally scared with violence rising and 19 Palestinian youth shot to death in the last two weeks, all the school-children are now gathering in one place in order to walk to school together. Parents living there were watching out for the children, telling them to move away from the street as soon as they could hear a car in the distance, afraid settlers would run them over if the children didn’t move fast enough. This has happened in the past and settlers continuously try to hit children with their car.
Soldiers at the checkpoint denied one Palestinian adult around 30 years old to walk down the stairs. The soldiers stopped him and didn’t even ask for his ID, but ordered him to go back up the stairs and walk around. A group of female teachers and girls were ordered to stop in front of the stairs and made to wait for about 5 minutes. Again, soldiers did not demand any ID or to check bags, and finally allowed the group to pass and go to school after about five minutes.
All of this comes at a time, where the whole neighbourhood has been declared a ‘closed military zone’ by the Israeli forces, further infringing on the already restricted movement of Palestinians – while settlers from the illegal settlements are allowed to roam the streets freely.
This illustrates the daily harassment Palestinian children and teachers have to face on their way to and from school – a clear infringement on the basic right to education. But this does not only ring true for school-time, harassment and intimidation by soldiers and settlers are increasingly becoming an integral part of day to day life for Palestinians.
Today in The New York Times we have a look at Hebron, a blood-drenched city in the West Bank, a community besieged by violent settlers and trigger-happy Israeli forces. In this month alone, some 20 of its Palestinian residents have died at the hands of soldiers and police, their deaths sometimes caught on video that belies official accounts.
But this grim reality is not the focus in the Times. The article by Diaa Hadid and Rami Nazzal strips the full context of the occupation from Hebron and presents it, not as a city struggling to survive under crushing oppression, but as a hotbed of Palestinian radicals, a stronghold of the oft-demonized Hamas.
The story takes us to the funeral of Dania Irsheid (identified as Dania al-Husseini in the Times), a schoolgirl shot at a checkpoint on Sunday. It mentions other deaths in recent days, but it completely avoids the eyewitness accounts and human rights organization findings that show many of these deaths were extrajudicial executions.
Israel has callously refused to release the bodies of most of the 20 victims, and we read that residents feel “particular outrage” over the death of Dania and another girl, Bayan Oseili, 16, killed a week before, both accused of stabbing attacks. The story deftly avoids another compelling reason for this outrage: the fact that both obviously posed no threat and could have been arrested and that video footage in the case of Bayan and eyewitness accounts in the case of Irsheid contradict police claims.
Hadid and Nazzal, however, have nothing to say about these contradictions and write that residents are angry because the refusal to release the bodies is an “affront to the Muslim tradition of immediate burial and a defilement of their honor.”
This fits neatly into the Times’ attempt to spin the oppression in Hebron into more blaming of the victims, who are described as Hamas followers and culturally conservative. The article opens with a quote from a Hebron resident who applauds knife attacks on Israeli soldiers, and it closes with the same speaker who “was pleased to see the surge in violence turn to Hebron.”
Missing entirely are any comments from nonviolent Hebron activists and the accounts of eyewitnesses who say Israeli forces have planted knives near the bodies of victims. The story also omits some chilling reports of deliberate executions and the statements of human rights groups that raise the charge of extrajudicial killings.
One of the most disturbing accounts describes the death of a young man, Islam Ibeidu, 23, on Wednesday near the Kirya Arba settlement. The news outlet Middle East Eye noted, “According to the quoted eyewitness, Ibeidu was searched by Israeli soldiers by the checkpoint and released, before orders were given to execute him.”
One witness tweeted: “I saw everything. I saw soldiers loading the guns. He had his arms up and was shaking, he was unarmed and they just shot him.” A second tweet continues, “eyewitness overheard police woman say ‘he looks nice, shoot him’ before he was shot to death by m16 from 2 meters away.”
The accounts of other deaths are equally disturbing (see TimesWarp 10-27-15), but the Times story includes none of them. It states that the victims this month died “in demonstrations and attacks,” taking the official Israeli line as fact.
On the other hand, the article refers frequently to Hamas in an effort to tie the group to the violence in Hebron. It makes no mention of several non-violent groups active in the city, such as Youth Against Settlements, Christian Peacemaker Teams, the International Solidarity Movement and the UN mandated Temporary International Presence in Hebron.
All of these organizations are avowedly non-violent; they observe and document violence against Palestinians. Yet another group, Breaking the Silence, was founded by Israeli soldiers who had served in Hebron and now collect and document Israeli army abuses. None of these organizations has a voice in the Times story.
Much of Hebron’s agony dates back to March, 1994, when an American-born settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 worshippers in the Ibahimi Mosque. Hadid mentions this as part of the historical record but omits the brutal Israeli crackdown that followed.
Rather than act to protect Palestinians after this attack, Israeli security forces went on to kill some 20 more Hebron residents during protests and to lock them down under a round-the-clock curfew. The government also closed once bustling Shuhada Street to all Palestinian traffic, welded shut Palestinian shops, turned the street over to settlers and divided the mosque into Jewish and Muslim sections.
This finds no clarification in the Times story, which refers vaguely to a “volatile mix of Palestinians and Jewish settlers.” Instead, the newspaper has adopted the official playbook of the occupiers: Stick to the narrative of Israeli victimhood, ignore countervailing fact, and whenever possible blame Hamas.
Rogue states make their own rules, mindless of inviolable international laws, norms and standards. On October 19, Israel’s repressive counter-terrorism bill passed its 2nd and 3rd readings – criminalizing legitimate resistance as terrorism, expanding regime authority to counter it extrajudicially.
Any activity can now be called terrorism or terrorist-related, innocent Palestinians subject to possible longterm imprisonment. Charity officials providing aid to anyone linked to or associated with Hamas or legitimate resistance groups can be arrested, charged and prosecuted.
Children wearing clothing bearing the Hamas name face arrest, detention, and grueling interrogations amounting to torture. The law authorizes Big Brother surveillance, more intrusive than already, replicating how the NSA operates, monitoring all phone and online communications.
Israeli Law Professor Yael Berda called the measure “scary and undemocratic…criminalizing an entire population for identifying with an organization that Israel considers terrorist (true or false)” – first introduced in 2011, redrafted several times, never brought to 2nd and 3rd readings until now, required for passage.
It expands the definition of terrorism to virtually anything considered a (real or invented) threat to public safety, well-being, property, infrastructure, the economy, religious sites or the environment.
It makes no distinction between alleged attacks against civilians, soldiers or police. Vandalism against (Israeli) religious sites is now terrorism.
Terrorist organizations are any authorities say so for any reason or none at all. Members or supporters face harsh punishment.
Any alleged terrorist crime incurs “double the penalty set for the same crimes, but no more than 30 years” imprisonment. Administrative detentions (without charges levied or trials) can be ordered more easily than before, subjecting victims to indefinite imprisonment.
Punishment for allegedly intending to conduct a terrorist act is equivalent to committing it. Noted Israeli lawyer, human rights champion Leah Tsemel calls the new law “not…about terrorism. It…remove(s) restrictions from everything to do with opposition to occupation,” criminalizing legitimate resistance.
“When it comes to the occupation, there is no rule of law,” she explained. Israel always operated extrajudicially – now with more police state authority than before.
A passage in the 100-page measure reads as follows:
“The law substantially strengthens and widens the powers of the police and the General Security Services (Shabak or Shin Bet) to suppress any legitimate protest activities against Israeli policies.”
“It also enables the use of ‘secret evidence’ in order to take preventative measures against these activities, which impedes the possibility of objecting to these repressive decisions based on their merits before the judiciary.”
According to Yael Berda, “(y)ou don’t have to do anything to be considered a terrorist. You can publish an article or make a comment in cyberspace, and you will be criminalized.”
“If you are located in the physical environment of terrorist activities, you are guilty.” The measure applies specifically for Palestinians and Arab Israeli citizens – Jews as well for opposing regime authority.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) denounced the new measure, saying “in its current form, (it) seeks to perpetuate and normalise problematic arrangements that are currently set out in emergency legislation and regulations from the time of the British mandate.”
“(D)efinitions included in the bill are very broad and could apply to people and organizations who are not engaged in terrorism. Such broad definitions give excessive discretion to law enforcement authorities to determine ‘who is a terrorist,’ with potentially serious implications.”
“For example, the definition of ‘terrorist act’ may apply to protests, including ‘disturbances.’ The definition of ‘member of a terrorist organization’ includes people who did not take any active part in the organization. The broad definitions contained in the bill and the draconian powers that it gives to authorities could potentially lead to serious human rights violations.”
The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel condemned the measure, saying it “substantially strengthens and widens the powers of the police and the Shabak to suppress any legitimate protest activities against Israeli policies.”
It’s specifically designed to criminalize legitimate resistance – “to further suppress the struggle of Palestinian citizens of Israel and the pursuit of their political activities in support of Palestinians living under Occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
Humanitarian and cultural activities are vulnerable. So is independent journalism, legitimately criticizing repressive state policies. Its passage assures greater collective punishment – all the more urgency to resist this vile, freedom-destroying regime.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported, Thursday, that Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian teenager, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, the second Palestinian to be killed in the city in less than three hours.
The Ministry said the slain Palestinian has been identified as Farouq Abdul-Qader Seder, 19 years of age.
He was shot dead in the Shuhada Street, close to the Beit Hadassah illegal Israeli colonialist outpost, in the heart of Hebron city.
The Israeli army claimed the Palestinian “carried a knife, and attempted to stab a soldier,” a claim that was strongly denied by eyewitnesses.
Eyewitnesses also said Israeli soldiers, and extremist colonizers attacked the dead body of the slain Palestinian, and opened fire on the home of resident Hajj Mofeed Sharabati.
The army claims several Palestinian activists, of the Independent Human Rights Committee and Youth Coalition against Settlements, “were hiding in the Sharabati home.”
Farid al-Atrash, head of the Independent Committee for Human Rights in the southern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers attacked him and many Palestinians who were with him when they rushed to the scene, where the Palestinian was killed, after hearing gunshots.
“The soldiers attacked us, and we ran to the home of Mofeed Sharabati,” he stated, “The soldiers and fanatic settlers followed us, and attacked us in his home.”
“We are here, and will remain here; we document the Israeli violations; we defend the legitimate rights of the Palestinians to live in peace and dignity,” he added, “The soldiers also fired a gas bomb targeting the Sharabati home, and surrounded it.”
Also Thursday, soldiers shot and killed Mahdi Mohammad Ramadan al-Mohtasib, 23 years of age, near the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron.
The latest fatal shootings on Thursday bring the number of Palestinians, killed by Israeli army fire in occupied Palestine since the beginning of this month to 68, including 14 children.
49 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, 17 in the Gaza Strip, including a mother and her two years of age child, and one in the Negev, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The Ministry added that at least 914 have been shot by live Israeli army fire, while 878 were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets.
It also said that 206 Palestinians suffered fractures and bruises after being beaten by Israeli soldiers and extremist settlers, 14 suffered burns due to Israeli gas bombs and concussion grenades, and more than 5000 Palestinians received treatment for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Wednesday 28th at 3.25pm a young Palestinian was shot in cold blood in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron. Human rights observers from International Solidarity Movement witnessed the young man being murdered while walking in the street near the Gilbert Checkpoint.
The eyewitness from ISM, identified as Orion, states: “I am 100% sure he was unarmed. I saw the two soldiers creeping slowly along the road outside our apartment window with their guns cocked, so I looked down the street to see why. I saw an unarmed man walking normally towards the soldiers and suddenly they shot.”
The young man was shot at a distance of around two meters and at least 12 shots were fired. He died immediately after being shot.
No shouting or running was heard on the site prior to the murder. Minutes prior to the incident, a policewoman was overheard at the Shuhada Street checkpoint 56 saying on her radio “he looks like a good one, shoot him.”
Another activist from the ISM states: “It was just like last night, when they shot Hummam Said. Everything was quiet and suddenly we heard many shots outside our apartment. I am sure he was unarmed and they murdered him for no reason, just like Hammam”
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – At 10.30pm last night, Tuesday 27th October 2015, a Palestinian man who has been identified as 23 year old Hammam Said was shot in al-Kahlil (Hebron) at the Gilbert checkpoint, directly outside the ISM apartment. The man was in the H2 neighborhood of Tel Rumeida which was otherwise quiet at the time.
No commotion, shouting or running was heard prior to the six gun shots echoing suddenly through the streets and no other security risk could otherwise be perceived.
Immediately following the incident, Israeli forces, who are permanently posted at the checkpoint for 24 hours a day, surrounded the body of the fallen man. Within minutes settlers from the nearby illegal settlement arrived and were allowed to approach and photograph the scene. Further forces then arrived, including soldiers and several police vehicles. An Israeli ambulance arrived but no medical aid was delivered to Said, instead paramedics stood close to the bleeding man and watched passively as he died.
Said was then stripped of his clothes, revealing that the gunshot wounds were all on the back of his body. He was then placed in a bodybag and the street was cleaned. By midnight the scene was totally cleared of all evidence of the incident.
A short video shows Hammam after he was stripped of his clothes by Israeli forces:
Eyewitnesses reported that no knife was originally witnessed on the scene, though one appeared after the soldiers surrounded the body. “I cannot say for sure they put the knife there, but I know even 5 seconds after the shooting I looked, I really looked, and I could see nothing. I am 99% sure of it. But afterwards, it was there.” She added “if an attack was planned at this location it wouldn’t even make sense. He was still 20 meters from the soldiers or checkpoint, in the middle of the night. Why would he wave the knife around?”
Extrajudicial executions of this kind are illegal in international law and there is no evidence that warning or deescalating force was applied before the lethal shooting of Said. The checkpoint has a camera positioned above the street and the International Solidarity Movement is demanding that Israeli forces release the raw footage to prove an association between the man and the knife allegedly found at the scene.
An hour and a half after the incident, an eyewitness reported that “it is like nothing happened, there is no bloodstain, nothing but a dog sniffing the ground. The street is eerily quiet and there are just the normal number of soldiers at the checkpoint.” They added that “they cannot really feel like there is a security threat here right now.” An hour after that an illegal settler vehicle was parked by the location of the shooting, playing loud festive music.
Listen to audio of settlers playing party songs after Hammam Said’s blood was washed off the ground:
Said’s death marks four Palestinian deaths in Hebron within two days, and brings the total death toll within the Occupied Territories of Palestine to 64 since the start of October. Hebron has been a centre of the rising tension in the West Bank, and today witnessed extreme suppression of peaceful protests in Bab Al-Zawwiya, when innumerable rounds of teargas were shot directly at dense crowd of demonstrators who were demanding the release of Palestinian corpses killed by Israeli forces.
It is anticipated that with allegations that Said had a knife that no investigation will be launched, yet another Palestinian will be branded as a terrorist, and as a final injustice another family will be denied their rightful mourning rites.
BETHLEHEM – An Israeli settler shot and seriously injured a young Palestinian man on Sunday morning in the Wadi Sair area near the illegal Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion and Sair village, east of Hebron, Palestinian security sources said.
Additionally, the mayor of nearby Sair village reported that seven Palestinians in the village had been shot and injured following the incident.
The settler who shot and critically injured the Palestinian man claimed, according to Israeli reports, that a Palestinian attacked him with a knife.
Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that an Israeli settler shot 20-year-old Azzam Azmi Shalalda four times while he was in his agricultural field, after the actual person suspected of carrying out the alleged attack had reportedly already fled the scene.
After the shooting, Shalalda was evacuated to al-Mamoon clinic in nearby Sair for first aid, before he was taken to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. Medics say he is in a critical condition. Shalalda is from the Sair village.
An Israeli army spokesperson said a Palestinian suspect attacked a 40-year-old Israeli after the Israeli man had stepped out of his car to confront Palestinians who were allegedly throwing stones at passing vehicles.
Israeli media outlets reported that the 40-year-old settler was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem after he was stabbed. He reportedly sustained moderate wounds.
An Israeli army spokesperson said that the alleged Palestinian “assailant fled from the scene,” adding that the reports were initial. The spokesperson had no information of a Palestinian shot or detained during the incident.
Mayor of Sair village, Kayed Jradat, told Ma’an that following the incident, Israeli forces raided Sair village and shot and injured seven Palestinians during the raid.
Doctor Zuheir Jaradat, who works at the town’s al-Mamoon clinic, said one of the victims sustained serious wounds as he was shot in the eye, while another man was hit with a live round in his thigh and was taken to hospital as well.
During the raid, Israeli forces inspected cars and checked the identities of villagers.
Jradat added that Palestinians in the village closed their stores out of fear of attacks by Israeli forces.
An Israeli police spokesperson said the area had been closed off.
Palestinian witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces chased a Palestinian vehicle between the southern West Bank towns of Sair and al-Shuyoukh after the incident. They highlighted that the alleged stabber had fled the scene, and an Israeli settler shot another young Palestinian man who had been working in nearby fields.
As Israeli state authorities processed my arrest on account of ‘an Instagram photo’, Israeli forces and settlers shot dead three Palestinian teenagers on the streets of Hebron on Saturday 17.10.15. With three teenagers killed and settlers literally celebrating in their blood, it is perhaps little surprise that those with cameras slung over shoulders are increasingly coming under threat.
Sitting in a cold room for hours, without access to a lawyer, I watched my beloved camera slammed on a table. Meanwhile, my presence in the base was denied to my colleague. One of my photos, I was told, rendered me a threat to the ‘security of Israel’.
An Instagram photo? Me? A threat to one of the most powerful states in the world?
The threat here? The truth.
Truth says Aeschylus, is the first casualty of war. But, can truth be a casualty? Truth cannot be arrested, deported, humiliated, beaten or killed. Hidden? Yes. Repressed? Yes. But it still remains.
Cameras indicate that – Occupation – we are watching you, we are documenting you, we are here, and we see you. We see Palestinian blood running on occupied streets in Hebron. Indeed, I dropped my camera lens cap in Hadeel’s.
CPT, as a very small thread in the fabric of resisting this occupation, has recently come under heightened attack. Including abusive phone-calls, increased police aggression and checks, and now, arrest.
We were detained by Israeli border police as we were en route to the site of 17 year-old Bayan’s murder. We stood detained against the wall as we waited for the commander “who wanted to speak” to me. Informed I was under arrest for taking a photo of “classified material” (two weeks ago in public space), I was taken to a police station to await interrogation. I knew they were ‘serious’ – this was not their normal provocation that we experience daily – but I did not yet know the full extent of the danger they would later put me in ten hours later.
“Why do you love these terrorists?” I was repeatedly questioned, amidst suggestions that I “go and sleep with Abu Mazzan” (PA leader Mahmoud Abbas) throughout the cold hours of waiting. I stated my right to inform my lawyer that I was in custody, to which I was greeted with “you tell your lawyer when I tell you to”, informed I would have to wait for longer because of such non-cooperation. My passport and my camera confiscated, I shivered for seven hours awaiting interrogation.
My body grew tenser and sorer, and, needless to say, my request for something warm was greeted with smirking. One Border Police woman amused herself with staring at me for some time. Another’s gun knocked my leg as he fidgeted. Another attempted to engage me in conversation about how ‘ungrateful’ ‘the Arabs’ were, citing the ‘giving back of Gaza’ in 2005. I declined conversation, deciding it was not the time to discuss locking over 1.5 million people in an open air prison and bombing them. Eventually most of the personnel trickled away, and I was left with one Border Police woman who, thankfully, largely ignored me. The sounds of explosions from all over Hebron, and two consecutive violent films – ironically set in prisons – filled the space as we sat in awkward silence.
Later, as the room refilled there began a somewhat animated discussion about the lack of English speakers to translate in interrogation. I listened wide-eyed as the discussion moved onto ‘Ofer’ – in reference to the renowned military prison near Ramallah. Ofer prison- where countless Palestinians are held for months without charge in ‘administrative detention’. As a British soldier was thankfully located, I was told I had one chance, and one chance only, to call my lawyer.
My one conversation over, interrogation began, and I was informed that I was to be deported. Apparently, I could speak to my lawyer again when I got off the plane. Chuckling, my interrogator changed this to a 15 day ban from Hebron. Supposedly, I was to leave that night. Listening to the clashes raging outside, with two teenagers killed so far, I expressed the impossibility, to which I was given a shrug and a “well if you don’t leave tonight, I deport you”. Told to sign forms, including one fully in Hebrew, I was also skin-crawlingly informed that my interrogator would keep my camera unless “I was a good girl for him”.
Suddenly, the interrogator received a call and ran from the room. 18 year old Tarek had been killed by Israeli soldiers. The third teenager in 12 hours.
Explosions outside the base heightened and a blindfolded Palestinian man, staggering as he was dragged in, was now slumped next to me. He was wincing with pain at the tightness of his handcuffs. “These are the terrorists you love” I was told.
An hour and a half later, my interrogator returned, and took my DNA, while we argued about the danger of leaving Hebron amidst the chaos of that bloody night. “It’s not safe” I said, “I have nowhere to go”, to which my interrogator repeated I could sleep with Abu Mazzan, and another replied “of course it’s not safe – you are in Israel, there are terrorists everywhere”. Resisting temptations of stating that we are in ‘occupied Palestinian territory’, I once again called my lawyer, having blessedly had my phone left with me in the chaos of the killing. Eventually, she convinced them to return my passport, my camera, and for me to leave by 9am the following morning.
Real panic set in as I was released. They did not release me to the Palestinian area, but into the settlement housing strongly ideological individuals. That day settlers had killed a teenager and celebrated in his blood. That day Israeli soldiers had called to other international activists to run, as settlers approached with machine guns. Having had my fair-share of being spat at, jeered at, being swerved at by cars, and accusations of Nazism or ISIS membership from settlers, I knew full well the danger, walking alone at 10pm. Those that made me leave that way were also fully aware of that danger, particularly heightened that day.
Reaching the now deserted road where Palestinians still live, I could hear the noise of mobs of settlers as I headed to the road block to meet my friend. Palestinian families watching the horror of the day from their windows were calling to me: “why are you out walking there? It’s not safe! Come off the street!” Three men cautiously opened their door, ushering me in to their family home. Loaded with the gift of cucumbers, one Palestinian man risked arrest – and even death had we ran into settlers – to walk me to the road block where I met friends, who drove me, also at their own risk, back home.
Back at the office, we sat listening until 3am to continued explosions and the calls of warning and help screaming from mosque towers around the city, as settlers continued to attack families.
My arrest is a very small fragment of a much wider repression of those documenting the violence of occupation. On the day I was arrested, so were two Palestinian activists from Youth against Settlements, having videoed the aftermath of Fadel’s murder. This week, the Israeli military has ransacked journalist offices, Israeli border police were caught on video stamping on the face of an accredited journalist, as the Foreign Press Association report “a series of unprovoked attacks”, and human rights workers and journalists are increasingly targeted in demonstrations.
Flicking through images and videos on my camera, I see the extreme ugliness of this occupation, which we will continue to write about, photograph and video. I also see the faces of the kindergarten children we escort to school in Hebron.
Truth: a casualty of war it may be, but a fatality? No. It cannot be. It exists. It screams. It threatens. It simmers. In ‘speaking truth to power’, not only do we see the horrors of the violence of this occupation, but we see the glimmers of hope and humanity that cannot be repressed.
This friend of CPTers in Hebron was with them only a couple minutes prior to his arrest, as he waited for another Palestinian who was detained for over an hour, to be released.
He came to meet CPTers from the other side of the police station as he was not allowed to walk on the section below the synagogue.
After two minutes of which he was out of sight, Israeli Border Police were dragging him to the police station, claiming he attempted to stab them.
The team wholeheartedly refutes this claim.
CPTers heard aggressive shouting from the police station and saw our friend pushed against a wall face first, with his arms pulled behind his back.
CPTers were then screamed at by a police officer, who forced them away from the entrance to the police station.
Upon his release a day later, he showed us his substantial injuries from the beating he sustained at the hands of the Border Police.