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IDF Claims a "Zero Tolerance" for Violent Settlers

IDF Claims a "Zero Tolerance" for Violent Settlers, But Not in Tel Rumeida

TEL RUMEIDA, HEBRON - Despite the Israeli government's claim of a "zero tolerance" policy against settler violence in Hebron, Human Rights Workers report that settlers have continued their violence against Palestinians with almost full impunity. The IDF's and Police's main response to settler lawlessness continues to be criminal indifference. Though they have increased their numbers, Israeli Security Forces continue to order Palestinian residents and Human Rights Workers to go home, rather than stopping settler attacks against them. As the media focuses on the impending evacuation of eight settler families from the wholesale market in Hebron's Old City, Human Rights Workers report that the increase of settler violence in Tel Rumeida, in the midst of the neighborhood's ongoing climate of violence and humiliation, continues to go largely unreported by the media and unrestrained by the Israeli Security Forces. Human Rights Workers in Tel Rumeida have documented the settlers' unrelenting violence in the neighborhood since August 2005 and report that the unrestrained settler violence against Palestinians, Human Rights Workers, and the Israeli Security Forces in Tel Rumeida can only mean that the Israeli government is criminally negligent in its refusal to apply the law to settlers.

Early Thursday afternoon, on the 12th of January, a group of forty
Israeli girls, many wearing black balaclava ski masks, marched through Tel Rumeida, throwing stones at Palestinians and Palestinian homes. David Parsons is a Canadian human rights worker (HRW) who lives in Tel Rumeida and works with the International Solidarity Movement and Tel Rumeida Project documenting and attempting to prevent settler attacks.

"I was attacked right in front of four soldiers," Parsons said, explaining that the group of girls surrounded him when they saw him filming as they threw stones at Palestinians. "They kicked and punched me, and tried repeatedly to steal my video camera. Four soldiers were standing nearby and watching, but they did nothing to help me or Palestinians as we were attacked."

In another incident, witnessed by a Palestinian resident of Tel Rumeida, Baruch Marzel, a notorious settler leader, and other settlers attacked a Palestinian woman. The witness called out to soldiers stationed nearby to help her. The soldiers did not arrive. Instead, more than three hours later, a group of soldiers knocked on the witness' door, with guns pointed, to ask him what he wanted. Life for Tel Rumeida's Palestinian residents, sandwiched between the Beit Hadassah and Tel Rumeida settlements, is characterized by the daily threat of violence from one of the West Bank's most fanatical settler populations. Palestinian schoolchildren are regularly attacked with eggs and stones as they walk to and from school, and Palestinians of all ages face daily attacks.

The Tel Rumeida project and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) live in Tel Rumeida where they support palestinian families by documenting and intervening in settler violence.

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