Saturday, December 5 2009 Road clearing in Bir al’Id

During the day we cleared a mountainous road to facilitate access for vehicles and tractors.

At about 13:30 a single settler from Havat Ya’ir tried to expel the shepherds from one of their grazing zones. The Palestinian shepherds refused and we joined the altercation, as well as the army and The Civil Administration. When things calmed we returned to the road work, but some remained with the shepherds .

At this stage a military patrol arrived and demanded that we leave the area. We explained that as long as there is no written decree we will not leave, and we also claimed there was no event justifying such a decree (all was calm, there were no confrontations). On the other hand, we insisted, there are works taking place on Palestinian land, and reminded them that The Legal Advisor issued instructions not to exploit the closure decrees as an arbitrary tool for removing people solely on the ground that their presence is inconvenient to the army or to the settlers.

By then an officer of The Boarder Police arrived, accompanied by 2 policemen and a policewoman’ and reiterated the same demand. Once he heard our claims he left for a short time and returned with an improvised written decree, where the original name place had been blacked out and instead he wrote “The area of Mitzpeh Ya’ir”. We claimed that the decree was invalid and illegal, and repeated our earlier explanations, demanding that the regimen brigadier who had signed it come to the place and see for himself.

The officer went and talked over the phone with the brigadier. I trailed along to listen in on the conversation. He repeated our claims to his brigadier, listened and then said: “OK, I’ll arrest one and come to you”.

The officer returned to the group and stood at the bottom of the trail together with the military officer who was present. By then the folks who had stayed with the shepherds returned and joined us, and we all started heading towards the tents. Assaf, who had been with the shepherds, headed on and when he arrived at the place where the officers stood the Boarder Police officer pounced on him and tried to nail him to the ground. Assaf refused to give in, and charged that he sees no reason why the officer was stopping him, and that there is no decree. The officer tried again to force him to the ground. At this stage the officer failed and fell backwards to the ground, pulling Assaf with him. The officer got up. He was about to kick Assaf, but changed his mind and, instead, sat on him; immediately the other policemen joined in, led Assaf to the jeep and drove him away.

We stayed in the area, and the whole closed zone affair dissipated.

Meanwhile, the officer claimed that Assaf had attacked him, made him fall and caused a back injury. After waiting over two hours in Susya Junction for an ambulance to come and take the officer, Assaf was taken to the Hebron Police HQ and he and the policemen were questioned. During this time the police issued a press release claiming that 30 leftist activists attacked a Boarder Police officer and injured him. The PR was aired.

We feared that this was an attempt to frame Assaf of assault, and after consultation with our lawyer Lea Tzemel the activists insisted on entering Kiryat Arba in order to give their own testimony on the event and inform the police that we had a video recording. In spite of lies in the boarder policemen testimonies, which also seemed coordinated, Assaf was released only at 23:30.