Press Release: Israeli settlers attack international volunteers in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kher

Press Release
Israeli settlers attack international volunteers in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kher

South Hebron Hills, January 23rd, 2011

At-Tuwani – Sunday, January 23rd 2011, two volunteers of Operation Dove, who were accompanying shepherds of the neighboring village of Umm Al Kher, were attacked by two settlers of the Karmel settlement.

At about 9 am the volunteers arrived in Umm Al Kher village to escort the Palestinian shepherds across a nearby hill, recently considered as private property of the Karmel settlement. Indeed Friday 21st, the settlers from Karmel, under the protection of the IDF and the Border Police, planted a row of trees on the top of the hill, thus obstructing to Palestinian shepherds the access to the land where they usually graze their flocks.

The Palestinians villagers asked for an international presence to monitor the situation and to prevent any incidents with the settlers.

After about ten minutes from the beginning of the accompaniment, the volunteers were attacked by two settlers of the Karmel settlement who kicked and punched them. The settlers succeeded in grabbing one volunteer’s video camera, but the other volunteer managed to take pictures of the event and especially of the two settlers’ faces.

After the attack, the volunteers headed for a Border Police jeep who was in the area but didn’t witness the event. After explaining what happened, they claimed their video camera back. After a while also the police arrived.

One of the settlers, who didn’t physically take part in the attack, came close to the internationals who were next to the Border Police and Police. He told that he would have given back the video camera, provided that the internationals had deleted all the pictures of the attack and of the settlers’ faces.

The volunteers categorically refused to accept the deal and after about one hour they had their video camera back. The camera was not broken, but all the video had been deleted. Accompanied by the police the internationals went to the Israeli police station in Kiryat Arba for the complaint.

Episodes like this are frequent in the South Hebron Hills, where the national-religious settlers from the settlements and the outposts attack both internationals and Palestinian shepherds and farmers to intimidate and force them to leave their lands. These kinds of illegal actions are usually left unpunished and many of them occur with army and police complicity.

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]
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