A Palestinian man stabbed and killed an Israeli woman on Sunday, after occupation police and settlers shot and ran over a Palestinian girl on the same day.
The attack took place near the so-called Gush Etzion block of settlements south of al-Quds.
The Palestinian attacker was shot dead by occupation forces afterwards, Israeli police said. He was identified as Issam Thawabteh, 34, from Beit Fajjar near Bethlehem.
The Israeli woman was stabbed in retaliation for the brutal killing of a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who was shot and run over by occupation police and Zionist settlers earlier on Sunday.
Also on Sunday another Palestinian was shot dead by occupation police, who claimed he was attempting a stabbing attack against occupation forces.
Hebron, occupied Palestine – On Tuesday, 17th November, several groups of soldiers raided houses in the Wadi al-Hurriya neighborhood of al-Khalil (Hebron), an H1 district legally outside of Israeli control. From 7.30pm, Israeli forces were present in the area, divided into groups of 7-12 soldiers and entering every house and business on designated streets. At some of the residences they entered by force, violently smashing through doors. They checked every I.D card of the residents and also, according to soldiers who confronted the ISM volunteers, searched for weapons. Later in the night they informed the volunteers that they were looking for weapons and collecting data in order to prevent potential stabbings: “yes, some people are scared. But some people have reason to be scared.”
Each group of soldiers patrolled different streets and dark alleys, checking each house and entering with backpacks, mapping equipment, bullet-proof vests, and cocked machine guns. On entering houses, 2-3 soldiers remained outside to “secure” the entrance, periodically pointing guns at passers-by and preventing vehicle and pedestrian passage through the streets.
The raids lasted until at least 12.30am, after which one unit was witnessed occupying the second floor of a Palestinian house – the other half of which was inhabited by a Palestinian family – and could be heard setting up sleeping equipment. According to the soldiers questioned on site: “no, we are not inside a Palestinian house, they are not living in this house.” The residence is located within 500 meters of an army base and checkpoint bordering the H2 restricted area of al-Khalil.
It was reported later from residents who were in contact with ISM that furniture and property was damaged on the night. This is typical of night raids on Palestinian houses, and in other incidences money and other property has also been stolen. While these raids have been used extensively in the al-Khalil district in recent weeks as part of a tactic of intimidation, it is unclear as to whether the policy of raiding the H1 district and squatting family homes will continue.
Eye-witness account of a murder: ‘They didn’t want her alive, they want her dead, they meant to kill her”
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On 25th October 2015, 17-year old Dania Arsheid was gunned down by Israeli forces in front of the Ibrahimi mosque in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) and left to bleed to death. One of the shopkeepers nearby the Ibrahimi mosque witnessed the events leading up to this ruthless murder and agreed to make a statement.
After school finished around 1:20pm on that fateful Sunday, Dania was on her way from the Palestinian souq (market) in the Old City of al-Khalil towards the Ibrahimi mosque. She passed the first revolving gate and the metal detector without any problems – the metal detector did not indicate any metal objects. When passing the second revolving door, soldiers at the nearby checkpoint at the entrance of the mosque called for her to come there. Upon hearing this, the witness, who owns a shop, just meters away from the revolving gate, decided to go through the checkpoint to make sure that the girl was okay.
Dania passed yet another metal detector at the checkpoint at the mosque entrance and put her bag on the table there, as requested by the Israeli forces. They searched her entire bag but they were not able to find anything. Regardless of that, Israeli forces kept asking
Dania ‘where is the knife’ over and over again – completely ignoring her answer that ‘there is no knife’. When one of the soldiers suddenly shot a bullet between her feet yelling at her, she raised her hands and moved back down the stairs. Nevertheless, the soldiers continued questioning her aggressively about a knife – even though she had her hands raised and her bag had been searched with no knife found; and Dania repeatedly asserting that she did not have any knife.
After the first shot was fired, more and more soldiers arrived to the checkpoint, so that it was impossible to tell how many of them shot the 6-7 fatal bullets at Dania – a girl who had her hands up in the air, who had been searched extensively and who had at no point posed any threat. Immediately after she was gunned down, Palestinians in the area – including the witness – were forced to move back through the checkpoint into the souq. The soldiers pointed their assault rifles at the witnesses pushing them out of the area and immediately afterwards closed off the checkpoint for anyone to enter and exit for about an hour.
The first ambulance arrived about 15 minutes after Dania was gunned down. “They didn’t want her alive, they want her dead, they meant to kill her”, explains the witness, stating that they could have easily arrested her. At no point after her body was perforated with bullets was any first aid provided, and the shooters left her lying on the ground slowly bleeding to death. Instead of giving first aid, Israeli forces proceeded to block the view so nobody but them would be able to see the 17-year old school-girl bleed to death.
“She came [to the checkpoint] and didn’t do anything – and then she was killed.”
HEBRON – Undercover Israeli forces on Thursday shot dead a Palestinian during a hospital raid in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, witnesses and hospital staff said.
Abdullah Azzam Shalaldah, 28, was shot several times by forces who raided the surgery unit of al-Ahli hospital in order to detain his cousin, Azzam Ezzat Shalaldah, 20, who was shot by an Israeli settler last month, hospital staff told Ma’an.
Abdullah and another relative were in the hospital visiting Azzam when around 20 undercover Israeli soldiers entered the hospital at around 4:00 a.m., witnesses said.
The forces tied up the relative while Abdullah, who was in the bathroom at the time, entered the room and was shot dead on scene. The undercover forces then retreated from the hospital with Azzam, taking him into custody, witnesses added.
Video footage from security cameras shows a group of around 16 men walking through the corridors of the hospital just before 4 a.m. pushing a wheel chair, when suddenly the man sitting down removes his blanket, stands up, and all the men draw guns and proceed down the hall.
The footage also shows what appears to be an Israeli agent dressed as a Palestinian woman, and other Israeli forces dressed as Palestinian Muslim men, wearing kuffiyeh’s and appearing to have fake beards.
An Israeli army spokesperson was unable to comment on the presence of undercover forces during the raid, while Israeli media reported that the forces arrived in two large vans with someone pretending to be pregnant.
The army spokesperson told Ma’an that a combined force of Israeli army and police members had entered the hospital in order to detain Azzam, when an “additional suspect attacked the forces.” The forces responded with live fire, killing the man, the spokesperson confirmed.
The spokesperson said that the forces detained Azzam on the grounds that he “stabbed an Israeli in the chest in Gush Etzion” on Oct. 25, wounding him severely, adding that “the victim shot him” as he fled the scene.
The spokesperson added that the “Shalaldah family are known Hamas operatives.”
Palestinian security sources told Ma’an on Oct. 25 following the attack that Azzam was shot by an Israeli settler. A spokesperson for Hadassah hospital said at the time that the settler, 58, had received a light “stab” wound to his chest, and had possibly been hit with a stone in his head.
Palestinian witnesses told Ma’an that they believed that the alleged Palestinian attacker had fled the scene unharmed and that Azzam had been working in agricultural fields when he was shot.
Abdullah, from the Hebron-area village of Sair, was the 80th Palestinian to be killed since Oct. 1.
The majority of those killed were shot dead by Israeli forces during alleged, attempted, and actual attacks on Israeli military and civilians.
Ten Israelis have been killed by individual Palestinians during the same time period.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – This morning, for four hours from 9am to 1pm, a group of Israeli Settlers were training on the rooftop of the illegal settlement building, Yona Menachem Rennert Beit Midrash, on Shuhada street. An instructor taught them how to hold a gun properly and how to adopt the best body position for shooting correctly. The young settlers were all carrying guns and shouted continuously during the exercises, disrupting the children and the teachers of Qurtuba school during their lessons, and also the neighborhood life, like for the Palestinian farmers who were picking olives on their land, near the school.
This kind of settler training, which takes place several times a week in the illegal settlements of Al-Khalil, are part of the Israeli settlement strategy. This is one example of how they are indoctrinating their youth, teaching them to hate Palestinians, and encouraging attacks against them.
Israeli law allows any Israeli who has a firearms license to carry a gun in the street. While the Palestinians have to endure the daily humiliation of being searched at each checkpoint as well as total military control of their daily life in case they might be carrying a knife.
Israeli forces attacking journalists and medics (Ahmad) at clashes near Beit El Oct 30 – Photo credit Fadi Arouri
Ramallah, Occupied Palestine – In the early morning of November 2nd 2015, Ahmad Nasser was kidnapped by Israeli forces from his home near Ramallah. He was accused of attempting to kill soldiers by throwing stones and molotov cocktails, and was released without charge 15 hours later. He was repeatedly assaulted during his arrest and suffered broken ribs and further injuries.
It is Ahmad’s belief that the arrest was directly related to his work as a medic and humanitarian activist at demonstrations.
Just 60 hours before his arrest he was acting as a medic in a private ambulance service, administering medical aid to demonstrators injured at a Friday clash in Beit El. Along with journalists and other medics, he was directly targeted in his work on that day and prevented from tending to a demonstrator run over by an army jeep. Israeli forces threw a sound grenade at the group, teargassed the ambulances and then proceeded to viciously pepperspray press and medics.
The media surrounding this, coupled with his work in previous weeks tending to those shot with live ammunition in clashes near Ramallah, are likely reasons he was chosen for arrest as another victim of the recent increase in intimidation tactics being used against Palestinians, especially young men. As he states: “they try to accuse me of some charges but they cannot – if they had some real evidence that I threw stones they would never release me, but they didn’t – they just want to punish me for my work.” This is his account of his arrest and assault: just one story in the daily narrative of the occupation.
Ahmad in his work as a medic at demonstrations near Ramallah in October. Blood is from a man wounded in the chest with live ammunition shot by Israeli forces.
On the night of the 2nd of November I got home around 2 in the morning. Five minutes later I heard the Israeli army jeeps stopped outside my house and I took a look from my window to see what was going on. I didn’t know they were looking for me, and I saw the soldiers go to my neighbor’s house and start to knock on the door. When someone answered they questioned him and asked about who is living in the building. The neighbor, an old man, said that he didn’t know, so they started to beat him – they struck him with the end of the gun and they hit him and they took him with them to check the other houses and they entered his house with his family inside.
Then they knocked on my door and I opened it for them and I saw a lot of soldiers, about 60, standing there with their guns and ready to shoot. I saw the hatred and anger in their eyes and one of them asked me “who are you?” so I told him my name is Ahmad so he asked me “Ahmad what?” so I said “Ahmad Nasser.” He checked his phone and asked me for my I.D. but I didn’t have it at the time so I gave him the number of my I.D. He told me to stand on the side outside our front door, and to take my jacket off and give it to my mother. My mother and my brother, who was recently released from prison, were both in the room. My mother was very scared – you know, she is a mother. They kicked my kitten because she was playing around them, and they started to check me and he asked me again about my I.D. number to confirm it.
After that they went through my house and started to look and search for something and the soldiers outside were asking me if I have guns so I told them I do not. One of them asked me to take my shoes off and he checked it and after that asked me to put them on again. He told me to face the wall again and put the zip-tie hand-cuffs on my hands, behind my back. I told him that I have a problem in my right hand from an old injury and he said okay, but he tightened it more. They blindfolded me and asked me to sit on the stairs, with my arms back behind me, and after a few minutes they came out of my house with some personal things they had taken, and they told my family not to move or they will shoot them. They told me to walk and one of the soldiers grabbed me in a bad way and told me “MOVE!” and I told him that there is stairs but he pushed me down the stairs so that I fell onto my knee and slid down.
He started to say bad things about me and my family and started to beat me up until we arrived to the jeep and he shoved me into the edge of the front door. After that they pushed me against the side of the jeep and then against the back door and another soldier told him that there is no space in that car, so he took me to another jeep and hit me on the back door and started to punch me and hit me with something metal, I think the end of the gun. This is when they broke my ribs. There were many soldiers around. I heard one shout at my brother “GO! Or I will shoot you!” because he was trying to film from inside.
I was on my knees in front of the back step and a soldier put all his weight on me and after that he tightened the zip-tie (hand-cuffs) again but this time more strong. He told me to sit but I couldn’t do that because I don’t see a thing so they just pushed me inside the jeep and after a few seconds grabbed me out again so that the soldiers can sit and pushed me again inside the jeep on the ground. I was in a bad position until we arrived to the Ofer military base near to that area. After that he opened the door and grabbed me again and one of them helped me to stand and he was holding me in a bad way and another one came to me and he started to ask me if I throw stones at the Israeli soldiers. I said no and he told me that I am lying and said bad things to me and hit me in my stomach again and pushed me until we got to the arrest truck and he told me there are steps. I got into the truck and a female soldier asked me to sit and to shut up so I told them that they should take the hand-cuffs off, because they were so tight that my hands were swollen, but they didn’t listen to me.
When we arrived to the clinic to check me one of the soldiers was fighting with the zip-tie trying to take it off and that hurt me more but in the end he took it and the doctor checked me. They took the blindfold off inside the closed room and asked me questions, like if I am sick, if I am taking medication, if I have had any surgery, if I have any problems with my health. He checked where I was sore but said “you are fine.” They put the blindfold back on me and they took me out and I was waiting for 20 minutes until some soldiers came and took me to the truck again. I was waiting in the truck for a few minutes and they brought another prisoner from my town. I knew he was there because I heard them say “watch your head” but it hit against the truck, and I knew him from his voice. When we tried to talk to each other the soldiers shouted at us to shut up and they start to move and they took us somewhere, we didn’t know where. After a while driving they stopped and we got out and they told us to sit and it was so cold and windy, and we just had to sit out like that for a few hours.
Medical certificate which Ahmad initiated after he was released, when Israeli forces medic had said he was “fine” directly after beating. Report reads: “The patient came to the clinic 2/11/15; He was suffering from – Pain on the left side of his chest and back, caused by beating by the Israeli occupation forces. Patient has been X-rayed and broken ribs found on the left side, number 8 and 9. He has been administered treatment and this report on request.”
When I was talking to the other prisoner, a female soldier came and told us to shut up and said we couldn’t talk. I asked why and she said “I am treating you as a human being, just stop talking.” So I told her “it’s boring for us! So I will talk to him… and if you are treating me like a human being, for the first place I shouldn’t be here, and second, you should bring me a jacket and a blanket and water and we should be sitting in a warm room, not outside.” So she didn’t know what to say and she said, “just stop talking,” and she left. After about one hour, they brought me a jacket and a blanket and they left. After about 3 hours, another soldier came and took the blankets from us. A few hours later again, around 7am, he came again with the blanket, put it on us, and he left. In the morning, around 8.30, we told the soldier who was guarding the gate that we wanted to go to the toilet, but he didn’t listen to us, and after we hassled him for a few minutes he went to check whether there was another soldier to take us. He came back and said there is no-one to take you, so you can’t go. So, we kept annoying him for one hour, and after that, a female soldier came and she said “the toilet is closed, so there is no toilet” and she took me to a spot, behind the jeep. She would not give us any privacy. After that, they put us both on chairs and they left again for about half an hour.
Another jeep came with three soldiers, they put us in the jeep, and they took us to the Ofer military prison again. We stayed there for half an hour, and then they took us to Sha’ar Binyamin [illegal settlement] police station. They put us in a room with another 2 prisoners and we stayed there for a while, sitting on the ground until the investigator (police) came and took us to interrogate us. It was only at this point that the blindfold and handcuffs were taken off… all the time before that, I was blind. He started to ask me questions. He told me “we suspect you – you were throwing stones and molotovs, and you tried to kill soldiers with stones. What do you say about that?” So, I said “about what exactly?” He said “about what I told you” I told him “you are imagining that…. nothing like this could happen” And he said “OK but we have evidence.” I asked him “who told you that?” He said “just, we have evidence” so I demanded that they show it to me. They showed me a photo of another guy, someone I don’t know. I told him “this one is not me and I deny what you are saying and I want to talk to my lawyer,” so he called my lawyer. This was the first time I had been allowed to contact my lawyer, so many hours after I was arrested.
I talked to my lawyer for a while and after that he told me “stop talking and give me the phone.” He started to ask me if I have ever thrown stones or molotovs, and do I know people who throw stones or molotovs and if I join demonstrations against the soldiers or if I am thinking to join a demonstration. So, I told him “I don’t join demonstrations, and I would not do that, because when I go to a demonstration I go as a medic and work as a humanitarian mission.” And they said “but you still don’t want to tell me if you know anything.” So I told him, “I don’t know anything, and I deny everything that you have, and your evidence is fake.” So he decided to take my DNA and fingerprints and they also took photos of me. Another investigator, he asked to see my hands, so I showed them to him and he said “these hands are not throwing stones… these hands are throwing molotovs.” I started to laugh and told him “you are dreaming” and he said “OK, what is your name” so I gave him my name and he told me “we have been looking for you for a long time.” I said “really? I am in Ramallah… and you are 10 minutes away, and you could take me any time.. so don’t make fun of me.” He said “OK, go down” and when I was about to go into the elevator, he showed me his hand, with 4 fingers, and he asked me “how much is it?” So I told him “it’s four.” He said “no, it is five.” I told him, “no it’s four.” He flipped his hand around, and said “no, like this it’s 4,” he flipped his hand again, “and like this [with a bent thumb on the palm side], its five.” I told him “if it’s four or five it’s your problem, I see four.” They told me “OK, just go.”
So, the other policeman took me to the room where I was sitting with the soldiers and the other 3 prisoners and they kept us there for about 2 hours. It must have been about 3pm by then. Three policeman came, and they said “these 2 guys [pointing at the others, from Jalazon camp] – to Ofer.” And me and the other guy, “to the custody room.” We stayed there around one hour before the policeman came and opened the door for us. He said “we have nothing against you. So, you can leave. And, do you know how to go out from here [the police station]?” I told him yes, but when I got to the main door I said to him “you didn’t charge us, but you release us inside a settlement, and we might get killed here” He said “no, you are fine, just leave,” so we left. They try to accuse me of some charges but they cannot – if they had some real evidence that I threw stones they would never release me, but they didn’t – they just want to punish me for my work. And I am free now. Thanks for everyone who tried to help me, in any way. I appreciate it.
The Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC) estimates that approximately 1,350 night raids are occurring annually in the West Bank, with that number having escalated in the tensions of recent months. Most of these raids occur between 2:00 and 4:00am “and commence with aggressive banging on the front door. In some cases the door is simply kicked in or blown off its hinges.” While night raids are used extensively as an arrest tactic, the WCLAC explains that in fact in the majority of cases no arrests are made, and it is moreover a “strategy of mass intimidation of the Palestinian civilian population.” According to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, in October alone, Israeli occupation forces arrested 1,195 Palestinians including 177 children, 16 females and 23 after they were injured. Among those arrested, 128 were placed under administrative detention, 31 of whom were arrested for alleged “incitement” including through social media, 3 of whom were children from Jerusalem. This brought the total number of Palestinian political prisoners to 6,700 by the end of October. They state that the “Israeli occupation authorities have publicly declared that these mass arrests as well as other measures taken against Palestinians in the occupied territory are aimed at suppressing the recent uprising, clearly indicating that the mass arrests are a form of collective punishment and political oppression aimed at forcing Palestinians to submission.”
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Israeli forces violently took over several homes of Palestinian families in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), trapping the families inside their own homes. Large parts of the city have been declared a ‘closed military zone’, preventing Palestinians from moving, while settlers are freely roaming the streets.
Early in the morning, Israeli soldiers stormed various houses in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood, each time locking up the residents in one room of their home. The local activist group Youth Against Settlements’ centre was taken by the Israeli army. Tom, a German volunteer states: “the soldiers searched everything and left a chaos on the lower floor; we could hear children’s voices from inside the house, so it must have been settlers inside the house”.
Whereas Tom’s release from the closed military zone was secured through the intervention of his embassy, Italian journalist Francesca Borri and Palestinian activists are still held hostage by the Israeli forces. Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements in Hebron have been seen dancing, chanting ‘death to Arabs’ and celebrating outside another Palestinian family houses misappropriated for military use by the Israeli forces.
Illegal Israeli settlers celebrating the takeover of Palestinian homes by Israeli forces
Photo credit: Youth Against Settlement
Israeli forces have also declared the neighbourhood around the Ibrahimi mosque a ‘closed military zone’, following almost a week of forced closure for Palestinian shops in the area. The Palestinian market has also been closed by the Israeli forces, denying Palestinians passage. “Soldiers and settlers are making life for the Palestinians intolerable to force them to leave their houses voluntarily. This is a crime under international law. They are targeting activists to silence the truth and stop the truth from reaching the whole world”, explains Tel Rumeida resident Abed Salaymeh. Other international human rights observers have been directly targeted by Israeli forces through arrests, evictions and settler violence.
Israeli soldiers in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of occupied Hebron Photo credit: Youth Against Settlement
In the last few weeks, Israeli forces have continuously cracked down on Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement by declaring the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood a ‘closed military zone’ and forcing all Palestinian residents to register with the Israeli army to be allowed access. Palestinians are subjected to regular body-checks at gunpoint or denied access to their homes while Israeli settlers, often armed with machine guns, are freely walking the streets. As one Palestinian resident of Tel Rumeida related, “Everyone is too scared to leave their house now.”
Israeil Knesset Deputy Speaker Miki Zohar yesterday proposed a bill that requires Israeli retailers to mark products that are manufactured in countries which boycott settlement goods, local media reported.
Israels Hayom newspaper reported that Zohar’s “A label for a label” initiative comes in response to the European campaign to label Israeli produce manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
According to the bill, failure to comply would result in a six month prison term and a fine of up to 14,000 Israeli shekels ($3,500).
The newspaper reported that Member of the Knesset Michael Oren of the Kulanu party said: “The EU decision to label Israeli products is anti-Semitic. There are dozens of border disputes and occupations in the world but the EU decided to single out Israel. They are not labelling products from China, India or Turkey – only Israel.”
“The Israeli consumers need to know that when they buy European products, they are supporting the EU’s anti-Semitic policies,” Oren added, calling on the government to prioritise trade with the United States as well as Asian and African countries who do not support the boycott.
The European Union is expected to start labelling products manufactured in Israeli settlements on Wednesday.
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, 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.
Local sources told Ma’an that dozens of settlers blocked entrance of farmers to their land while Israeli soldiers stopped two buses carrying volunteers en route to assist Palestinians in the olive harvest.
The buses were stopped on the main road between Nablus and the illegal settlement Yitzhar.
The Palestinians and volunteers were stopped “despite coordination between the Palestinian liaison department and its Israeli counterpart,” locals said.
Locals added that Israeli settlers also stole olives and farming equipment from Palestinians in the Bab Sanna area of Burin, which is completely surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements to the north and west.
Settlers in the Nablus area — known by locals to be more extreme and violent — frequently prevent Palestinian access to their farmland, much of which lies under Israeli control in Area C.
Earlier this week, settlers from Elon Moreh threw rocks at farmers in the Azmut and Deir al-Hatab areas east of Nablus.
The week prior, settlers from the Yitzhar settlement threw stones at locals picking olives in Burin, injuring four Palestinians. Dozens of acres of Palestinian agricultural land was also burned.
Such attacks are regularly carried out in the presence of Israeli military who rarely act to protect Palestinians.
Palestinian leadership has repeatedly requested the UN Security Council to intervene in order to stop aggression by settlers as well as the implementation of a measure to disarm settlers.
Settler violence during the olive harvest has historically taken a heavy toll on the thousands of Palestinian families whose annual living depends on access to their land.
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.