29 March 2012
Postcard from Palestine 4 - Attacked by settlers
Hebden Bridge's Ron Taylor is a regular visitor to Palestine, part of an international movement of supporters.
Following our detention by and subsequent minor victory over the Israeli forces of occupation, Ta'ayush activists were again asked to accompany shepherds from the village of Um-el-Hamad. On the morning of Saturday March 17th a group of 4 activists arrived. (Two more groups of Ta'ayushers went to other communities in the South Hebron Hills which also have problems with settlers and the Israeli military).
The shepherds wanted to go to the same grazing areas and we accompanied them down the hill from the village. It was cold and blustery but we didn't mind as the first two hours passed without incident. It seemed the Israeli military had recognised the shepherds' right to be there; the land is, after all, privately owned and there are documents to prove it.
The first sign of the trouble ahead came when an armed security guard arrived and began to takes photographs of ourselves and the shepherds. Soon afterwards an Israeli jeep appeared and two soldiers told us to move away. We refused. Private land, we said, as one activist held up a map of the area. There was a stand-off and the soldiers seemed uncertain what to do. Their natural inclination is to obey the settlers but before they were able to make up their minds, settlers from Otniel filed over the hill. Some were armed with modern weaponry. In all about 30 of them arrived on the scene.
To say the settlers were antagonistic to the shepherds is an understatement. But their real venom was directed towards Ta'ayush. They fanned out into a line and then forced the sheep back, away from the best grazing land. We could do nothing to stop them. And within minutes two thugs appeared from the direction of the settlement. They were masked. One ran from behind me, pushed me in the back and, I thought, tried to take my backpack. He ran onwards and made a bee-line for the only woman in our group, L. She stood her ground but was pushed with some force and fell backwards to the ground. Her attacker then ran back towards the settlement.The other thug ran past me, hurling abuse, and was heading for L.when one of the settlers stopped him before he attacked.
During this incident the Israeli soldiers stood by and did nothing. Their role is to protect the settlers at all costs, at the expense of the Palestinians and anyone who is there to support them. (L was shaken by the attack but her determination to support the farmers and shepherds is as strong as ever). Soon afterwards the settlers returned to Otniel but the soldiers stood around as we returned the sheep to the grazing areas.
The whole episode was captured by Ta'ayush video cameras (important weapons in these parts). I am told the assault on L was clearly recorded and she will make a complaint against the attacker to the police in Hebron. For this reason I am unable to include any video clips taken that day. However, the video posted here is the same one as with the previous Postcard from Palestine. This version has a translation of what was said that particular day. It was of great interest to me to have a translation from the Hebrew as it clearly demonstrates the contempt the military and the police have for the Palestinians and their rights, and for the people who support them in their struggle to remain on their own land.
Postcard from Palestine 3 - detained by the Israeli army (16 March 2012)
Postcard from Palestine 2 (19 Feb 2012)
HebWeb Forum: Postcard from Palestine
Postcard from Palestine 1 (8 Feb 2012)
HebWeb News - Hebden Bridge Old Gits support Palestinian farmers