Saturday, November 23 2013 An Organized Attack in Umm el Ara’is, and More

A sunny Saturday in South Hebron hills, and for some reason, not many activists have registered. Some of us headed from Jerusalem, in Ezra’s car, to the lands of Umm el ‘Amad. One shepherd took his sheep to graze, and another plowed his land accompanied by us, fortunately without being disturbed by settlers or ‘”Security Forces”. The farmers have finished their work pretty early, and the one who had been plowing reminded us that his access to his lands has been denied for many years, until we started coming along with him.

The rest of us headed in a van from Jerusalem to the lands of Umm el Ara’is. On the way, a Palestinian farmer, owner of a piece of land near the army base in Susya, called and asked us to accompany him while plowing his land. Some of us came over there, and the farmer plowed without being disturbed and finished pretty early as well.

Meanwhile, the remaining activists came to the lands of Umm el Ara’is, near the illegal outpost of Mitzpeh Yair.  Some of them were presented with a closed military zone warrant and did not proceed, however some of the land owner’s children ran forward before seeing the warrant, and reached the illegal greenhouses which the settlers had built on the private Awad family lands. These greenhouses are due  for demolition by a court order that hasn’t been  implemented for years, while one of the settlers has been growing  organic vegetables for commercial use in them. In the greenhouses, about ten settlers were waiting, among them the owner of the illegal business and his sons. They attacked the Palestinian children, as well as the land owner who followed them there and the Israeli activists who tried to document all that. The attack went on for twenty minutes, while “Security Forces” were present, including army officers of high ranks. However, they never tried to stop any of the settlers. On the contrary, some of the “Security Forces” were filmed while they were kicking women and beating children, and arresting the attacked instead of the attackers.

Watch the video filmed by one of the activists. Towards the end, one of the soldiers swears at him in broken Arabic, mistakenly identifying him as a Palestinian.

One of the activists was pushed to the ground by one of the settlers, who  took the camera she had been using and  broke it.

Watch the slow motion film showing the Israeli activist being pushed down to the ground by a settler (the sound is not coordinated with the picture)

The activist has told a police officer nearby that her camera was stolen. He approached the robber, asked him to return the broken camera and gave it back to the activist, of course without even trying to arrest the robber or at least to identify him. The settlers beat the family members and the activists with stones held in their hands, which caused some bleeding wounds in the faces and bodies of some of the children and activists.

Fifteen of the family of the land owners including minors were arrested, as well as two Israeli activists, and were violently seated on the ground. This took about ten minutes, during which some soldiers shouted that anyone who  gets up will be shot to death. The family members who weren’t arrested were pushed out of the area, while the attackers, of course, remained in it without being disturbed. The arrested Palestinians, some of them bleeding, were handcuffed and their eyes were covered, except for two girls, one of them thirteen years old. Two soldiers kept violently attacking the arrested Palestinians even while handcuffed and eye- covered. After a consultation of additional five minutes, ten of the arrested children, all of them apparantly less than ten years old, were released, all of them with bleeding wounds on their faces. The remaining five Palestinians – The land owner, two boys and two girls, as well as the two Israelis, were taken in army and police vehicles to the police station in Hebron.

Later that day, the activists were released after signing a restriction order of two weeks away from the illegal outpost of Mitzpeh Yair. The land owner, the two boys and the two girls were released after two days, on Monday, following a deposit of five thousand shekels to the Israeli police.

Meanwhile, the activists who had finished the work in Umm el ‘Amad and in Susya headed to Sha’ab al Butn, where dozens of olive trees had been damaged during the previous week. When they got there, some soldiers showed them a closed military zone warrant for the surroundings of the illegal outpost of Avigail, reaching almost to the road. They showed the same warrant to a Palestinian farmer who tried to reach his land at the edge of the mutilated olive orchard, denying his access to his land. Similar warrants were shown all over the area, including the one in Umm el Arais, in a clear move of general denial of access. The soldiers  showed closed military zone warrants for quite a few settlements and illegal outposts and their wide surroundings, such as the archeological site of Susya, the settlement of Susya, the settlements of Carmel and Maon and the illegal outpost of Havat Maon. The warrants were valid until Sunday, 11 am, and it is clear that there was no intention to show them equaly to other civilians who wanted to enter the settlements or their surroundings.