The army and the police receive their orders from the settlers.
We planned to tour the area with our guests, but it was interrupted when we were stopped at El Himma. We also wanted to reach Bardala to show our guests how water was being confiscated from the Palestinians. We received a phone call from Aaraf telling us that at 14:00 the civilian authorities had cut the main water pipe at Bardala and cut off water to their fields. The source of water for Bardala is an underground reservoir located directly beneath.
The Arrest at Al Himma
At about 13:00 we were notified that settlers from the illegal outpost of Shirat Ha’asabim were harassing shepherds from Al Farsia. We were close by so we drove there to protect them. We turned into the road leading to the settlement, and there were two army jeeps parked there, but no one attempted to stop us. We saw Guy’s car turn as well and the jeeps did not stop him.
We passed the outpost and continued up the hill. After about 200 meters two army jeeps approached us and ten soldiers got out and stopped Guy’s car, another rented car, and us. The soldiers took their phones out and photographed us. Their commander, who was a lieutenant – colonel, shouted that we were under arrest and that we had entered a closed military zone. He instructed the soldiers to photograph us and our ID cards.
The passengers in the rented car were civilians who had inadvertently arrived there. The driver had a hearing disability and they were arrested as well. There was no sign there stating that the area was a closed military zone. None of us knew this. If the soldiers had showed us an order or a map we would have left. We were held up there for two hours. The officer told us that we had made his day, he was happy to have arrested us, and he had been waiting for this moment. He also stood close to me until he was touching my chest and when I told him to back off he shouted: “I’m in charge here and I do what I want. If I want I’ll touch you as well!” He did the same thing to Tzvia and it was frightening.
While this was going on a settler was grazing his sheep on the opposite hill, within the “closed military zone”. Before we left we saw him return to the outpost.
At about 15:00 Nissim, a policeman and settler, arrived who we know from other incidents. He took our ID cards and said that he would let us all go except for Guy, and that if we entered the firing zone again we would be arrested. When I asked him why he didn’t arrest the settler he replied that he was not obligated to answer my questions and if I wanted to ask him something I should come to his office at the settlement of Mesua in the regional council and we could talk there.
The policeman arrested Guy and took him to the army base opposite the settlement of Shdemot Mahula where they would decide what to do with him.
We took everything that was left in Guy’s car and accompanied him to the outpost. We waited until he left and he continued to Ariel accompanied by two soldiers. At Ariel we were not allowed to talk to him and he was taken to the Hadarim Jail. The next day he was brought to the Magistrate Court in Petach Tikva. The next day we came with 20 activists to the court. Guy’s hands and feet were bound. The police prosecutor demanded that he be prohibited from entering Judea and Samaria for three months. The attorney, Gaby Lasky, did an excellent job representing Guy and spoke about the harassment of the activists and the Palestinian shepherds. The judge immediately accepted Lasky’s claims and immediately freed Guy on bail for a small sum that will be dealt with in another hearing if required. She did not release his car, but it was returned the next day following a demand by Attorney Itai Mack.
The Guccia Gate is still broken and open and broken since the army exercise two weeks ago. Why is this gate that separates the valley and its Palestinian residents from important sites such as schools, clinics, and government offices closed? What excuse does the army have under the guise of security to mistreat Palestinian civilians?
We drove to El Macsar to bring a father his son’s death certificate. We found the father in a difficult mental state. He and his disabled brother invited us for coffee. We sat with them and could not find words to comfort them. They could not find the motivation to ask anyone to make coffee and we sat in silence and soon departed.
On our way back at 16:30 there were soldiers at the checkpoint and five cars were waiting. People’s documents were examined quickly, but the soldiers took a break between one car and another and the line soon grew to 15 cars. The soldiers reported that they come down from the watchtower twice a day – in the morning and evening during rush hour. It is evident that they do so when they feel like it rather than when they are called. They then remembered that they were forbidden to talk to me and closed the checkpoint until I left.