No Defense for Palestinians
Against Attacks by Settlers and Soldiers
Who will defend Palestinians against settler and soldier attacks? Who will bring the attackers to trial? If the enemy is the one who has to protect you – he will not make an effort for you.
Extract from Hebron shift report, Wednesday, 19.3.08
Observers: Tzippi Z, Michal S (reporting)
We met Michael and Fawaz, both active in Btselem. Together we climbed to the Jebel el Ruheima neighbourhood, behind Tel Rumeida. We saw that it was easy to cross from there into the area of H1. There is no obstruction or separation , which testifies that the checkpoints were apparently intended for the elderly...
We arrived at the home of Abu and Am Talal. Until recently Abu Talal worked at a taxi rank, but now – after his home was attacked by settlers and the army – he is compelled to work at home as a cobbler. The house is in a relatively isolated area, and his wife is afraid to remain alone with the children. Her fear has its basis: in 2003, settlers came to her home and attacked her, as a result of which she miscarried and lost her fetus. Two years later she miscarried again, this time as a result of an army invasion of her home.
Abu Talal says that generally the soldiers and settlers make problems in periods of important events (elections, Olympics, or anything that engages media attention), for then the reporters are busy and do not file stories on them. When the settlers break into a shop on Shuhada Street, the police do nothing, because the Palestinians who are not permitted to enter the street do not know that their shops have been broken into and do not file complaints. When Abu Talal complained, about his son being attacked by settlers who broke his arm, nothing was done.
Fawaz, active in Btselem, tells us that soldiers also broke into his house. They arrived in the middle of the night to "carry out a search," and closed the whole family into one room. The soldiers sat in his living room and watched television. Fawaz saw that when their commander called him from the room to ask how to get Channel Two. Fawaz answered that Channel Two broadcasts are not received in the house, and the commander responded: "in the whole neighbourhood?" Fawaz says that this is how "searches" are done. The soldiers close the family members into one room, and then eat, drink and sit in the salon for a few hours.
When a complaint is submitted, with photographed proof, the police do nothing:
Fawaz: at Simchat Torah a drunk yeshiva student attacked my cousin with a vodka bottle. Luckily he missed my cousin’s head. An officer recorded the settler when he confessed, with blood still on his hands. In addition to that testimony, there were 20 eyewitnesses on the spot.
Michael: a day later I saw the criminal circulating freely in Jerusalem.
Even when there is a court order – it is bypassed:
From there we passed along "Matgar" to reach the house of the Abu Heikal family. We could not use the road because Fawaz is forbidden to tread on it. We saw the home of the el Bachri family, which was sold by a fake agent of the settlers. A court order was issued to evict the squatters, but the police do not enforce it. Meanwhile, the settlers have left the house and have been replaced by new squatters.
We left Fawaz before Shuhada Street – for there he is also forbidden to walk.