International Solidarity Movement Update
International Solidarity Movement Update
1. Israeli Army Rounds-up Non-violent Activists in Bil'in 2. Bil'in Defiant in Midday Sun 3. Israel Arrests Bil'in Journalist 4. Two Roadblock Removal Actions in Three Hours 5. March of Grapes Brutally Attacked-6 Arrested, Many Injured 6. Settlers steal fruit in Kufr Qallil during olive harvest 7. Stones and fire in Kufr Qallil - yet the olive harvest continues 8. Palestinian Resident of Hebron Detained for Sitting on the Street 9. Armed Israeli Colonists Move Freely While Army Restricts Palestinian Movement
***************************************************************************** 1. Israeli Army Rounds-up Non-violent Activists in Bil'in
UPDATE, 2pm: As this release was in the process of being published, the Israeli army entered the village again. It is currently unknown if they will capture more villagers or not. More details to follow.
UPDATE, 2.10pm: The remaining three captives have now been released. It is sitll unknow why they were captured.
Last night in Bil'in, the Palestinian village near Ramallah that has become a symbol of non-violent resistance to the apartheid wall, the Israeli army invaded the village at around 2am and kidnapped eight villagers. Five of the villagers were later released, but three remain in captivity in the Ofer military prison, west of Ramallah. The kidnappings were carried out on the western side of the village near Wajee's house.
The names and ages of those kidnapped are:
* Ferhan Burnat (24) * Th'er Burnat (19) * Mohammed Wajee Burnart (17)
Mohammed was released two weeks ago from a previous four month captivity by the Israelis. The Israeli army gave no reasons for last night's kidnappings and it is currently unknown why they are being held.
2. Bil'in Defiant in Midday Sun
UPDATE, Saturday 7th - A few hours after the demonstration yesterday Israeli soldiers eventually managed to invade the village shooting rubber bullets and firing sound bombs at Palestinian children who threw stones at them to defend their village. Three houses were damaged. Reuters cameraman Emad Bornat (who is also a resident of the village), who was the only person present filming this, was arrested and beaten. He was taken to hospital in Jerusalem and then taken back to the police station where he was questioned until 1am. He is currently being held at Ofer detention center near Ramallah. Emad was originally charged with assaulting a border policeman and throwing stones but the assault accusation was later dropped. Emad has been documenting the non-violent resistance to the Wall in Bil'in and his video footage has often refuted the false allegations of the Israeli military and helped to get those detained or arrested released. He has made a film called "One Year of Peaceful Resistance to the Wall", made up of the hundred of hours of footage of the demonstrations he has taken.
* * *
As on every Friday for the last 20 months, the villagers of Bil'in, supported by international and Israeli activists, marched from the village mosque after prayers to the apartheid wall, which has stolen around half of the village's agricultural land.
Following the pattern of last week's demo Israeli forces didn't hinder the marchers on their way to the gate in the Wall. The IOF declared the area a Closed Military Zone and banned the villagers accessing their land on the other side of the Wall. At the gate the villagers chanted resistance slogans, reminding the occupiers that their spirit of defiance and demand for justice won't be suppressed.
As some villagers attempted to climb onto the gate, soldiers hauled them off onto the other side. Two villagers, Ayad and Iyad Burnat, were detained in this way.
Not deterred by the intense midday heat and their empty stomachs, many villagers decided to continue the protest by marching down the slope along the wall and were immediately attacked by Israeli forces firing multiple rounds of tear gas. Around 20 protesters suffered from the effects of the gas and were forced to disperse into the olive groves where they watched as the IOF turned their attention to children in the olive groves on the opposite side of the road. Snipers took up positions and started firing rubber bullets at children in the groves who responded by throwing stones.
As the IOF prepared to invade, villagers blocked the road with rocks and the village youth once again successfully managed to prevent the world's fourth largest army from invading, armed only with what they could find on the ground.
For photos see http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/10/06/bilin-06-10-06/
3. Israel Arrests Bil'in Journalist
UPDATE, October 10th: At a hearing today at Ofer military court the judge ordered Emad to be released, but the Israeli military appealed this decision and said he should be held for a further 72 hours. The judge gave the army 24 hours to mount an appeal, which will be held tomorrow.
Emad Mohammad Bornat of the village of Bil'in, video photographer for Reuters and documentary film maker, was arrested on Friday October 6th, 2006 by a Israeli Border Police unit that entered the village, firing rubber bullets and sound grenades. Emad is being held in Israeli military custody and will be brought in front of a judge at Ofer military base tomorrow Tuesday the 10th of October.
Emad, who was filming at the time, was arrested by an Israeli Border policeman. When Emad arrived at the police station in Givat Zeev, he was wounded. The Border Police soldiers claimed a radio "fell" on him in the jeep, on the way to the station. He was taken to the Hadassah - Har Hatzofim hospital and was then taken back to the police station in Givat Zeev. After he was interrogated, the police refused to view the tapes that Emad filmed. Emad is accused of "assault on an officer" and of stone throwing and was sent to the Etzion prison. Israeli Border Police have in the past been rebuked by military judges on false testimonies towards arrested Palestinian demonstrators and their Israeli supporters.
Emad has tirelessly documented the struggle of his village against the wall and settlements, and is known by many other professionals with whom he works and cooperates, giving them video material for their films and reports. He is a man of peace and a dedicated and responsible video-photo-journalist. His video footage has been broadcast throughout the world, showing the demonstrations against the wall Israel is constructing on his village's land. It shows the routine, and often brutal, violence of the Israeli military in general and the Border Police in particular on the demonstrations, especially as used against Palestinians.
4. Two Roadblock Removal Actions in Three Hours
by PSP, October 6th This afternoon, Palestinian, international and Israeli activists carried out two non-violent demonstrations focused on two illegal roadblocks in the al-Khalil (Hebron) region. Roadblocks in al-Jab'a and Beit Ommar were chosen, and while the demonstrators were unable to open the first roadblock, the barrier in Beit Ommar was successfully opened. Large forces of occupation soldiers amassed at both demonstrations, and brutally beat many present.
Following Friday prayers in the village of al-Jaba, thirty five internationals and Israelis, and more than forty Palestinians, marched from the village mosque to the earth mound roadblock. The internationals represented the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP), the International Women's Peace Service (IWPS), the Christian Peace Makers Team (CPT), while the Israelis were from Ta'ayush, and Anarchists Against the Wall. This demonstration marks the third time in three weeks that demonstrators met at the al-Jaba'a roadblock to dismantle it. Last week, the demonstrators were successful in their efforts and were able to open the roadblock. This week however, soldiers and police with the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) preempted the action and attacked demonstrators.
When the non-violent demonstrators reached the roadblock separating the village of al-Jab'a from the village of Surif, they were met with numerous IOF army jeeps, police jeeps and one car carrying officers with the Shin Bet, the occupation's secret intelligence service. The military interfered in the demonstration, but the activists were able to work for approximately forty-five minutes, before IOF soldiers began to attempt to make arrests. At their peak, over thirty soldiers, eight police, and two Shin Bet agents were present. Along with the soldiers, two police jeeps, six army jeeps, and one Hummer were present. The soldiers took various attack positions, including placing three soldiers on the roof of a Palestinian house, armed with machineguns and tear gas launchers.
With the IOF present, the activists used shovels, pick axes, and hoes to remove rubble, dirt, and heavy boulders forming the roadblock. Following forty-five minutes of roadblock removal, the IOF accelerated their violence. Because of the IOF's massive presence, and their high quantity of 'less-than-lethal' weapons at the ready, the demonstrators decided to disperse rather than begin a confrontation with heavily armed soldiers. As they started up the hill to al-Jab'a, the IOF attempted to arrest one Palestinian man but he was successfully de-arrested by international and Israeli activists.
After leaving the al-Jab'a roadblock only partially removed, and not wanting to waste the remainder of the day, some of the Palestinians, along with the entire international and Israeli group traveled to the village of Beit Ommar to remove a second roadblock, consisting of four concrete blocks weighing two tons a piece. This time the activists were able to arrive undetected, and work for a short while before IOF soldiers and police responded. The demonstrators used thick ropes and metal carabineers to harness the blocks, and utilizing the strength of more than forty people, moved three of the blocks, opening the road. In order to move each block, ropes were attached to hooks implanted in the blocks, and while approximately thirty people pulled on the two ropes, others pushed from behind. Through this method, the demonstrators were able to move three of the four blocks, creating a path for cars and tractors to enter the village. By opening this road, residents of Beit Ommar are able to enter their village without passing through the checkpoint which includes an observation tower and a metal gate.
After moving two of the concrete blocks, soldiers with the IOF arrived. More than forty IOF soldiers and police assembled, along with six army jeeps, one Hummer, two police jeeps and one army transport. Quickly the soldiers began to attack the non-violent demonstrators. During these attacks, the following injuries were sustained:
- Palestinian man, struck in the abdomen with a rifle butt, piercing the skin. - Swedish woman, deliberately pinned between a concrete block and an army jeep. She jumped away and narrowly escaped being crushed. She was later assaulted, and thrown against a concrete wall. - Swedish man, punched in the head and thrown to the ground via his head, injuring his neck. - English man, struck several times on the forearm with a rifle butt, causing severe swelling. - Danish woman, struck in the head with a rifle butt and stomped in the feet, causing immediate bruising and swelling. - Swedish woman, bitten on the forearm by a soldier, causing localized swelling.
Besides these specific and remarkable injuries, many demonstrators present were punched, choked, pushed, thrown to the ground and otherwise assaulted by occupation forces. International activists witnessed at least three Palestinian men being beaten, though the details of their injuries are unknown. During these encounters, IOF soldiers attempted to arrest three Palestinians but were unsuccessful thanks to the efforts of international and Israeli activists who were able to successfully de-arrest the Palestinians through non-violent intervention.
After these initial attacks, IOF soldiers focused on a Palestinian home bordering the roadblock. IOF soldiers threw at least one concussion grenade, and fired what appeared to be a rubber-coated metal bullet through the window of the Palestinian home. When the shot was fired, several women and children were peering out of the windows at the soldiers, but were luckily not hit by the bullet or glass.
The roadblock in Beit Ommar was removed and the road opened, though it was soon blocked by four army jeeps who attempted unsuccessfully to replace the concrete blocks. The IOF soon learned how heavy the blocks were, as their armored jeeps were unable to budge the barriers. Though the roadblock is still open at the time of writing, it is likely only a matter of hours before the IOF replaces the illegal barrier, bottlenecking Beit Ommar, and forcing residents to travel through the militarized checkpoint. Just as the earth mound in al-Jab'a will also be replaced soon after its dismantlement, its partial removal is yet another act of resistance in a long chain of actions opposing the occupation. Palestinian, international and Israeli activists will continue to remove such manifestations of oppression which create closures, and restrict the free movement of the Palestinian people.
For information on the previous actions in al-Jab'a please visit:
For more information on the Palestine Solidarity Project, please visit: palestinesolidarityproject.wordpress.com
5. March of Grapes Brutally Attacked-6 Arrested, Many Injured
by PSP, October 8, 2006-Today, Palestinian, international and Israeli activists joined together to demonstrate against land theft, road closures and economic isolation by bringing two tons of the surplus Palestinian grape harvest to an occupation checkpoint along Route 60. In a display of civil disobedience akin to the North American Boston Tea Party, the demonstrators hoped to dump the surplus harvest onto the road, but were viciously attacked before they were able to reach the checkpoint.
Al-Khadr is a center for vineyards, as is the Bethlehem area in general. Every year its fertile lands yield 11,000 tons of grapes. Not long ago, these grapes were marketed to the entire West Bank, as well as Jordan, Gaza and Israel. Nowadays, with some roads blocked and others closed, and with new decrees restricting the delivery of grapes, the local produce has no market. The prices have dropped so low that the farmers can no longer earn their living. Many are forced to just leave the fruit to rot on the vines. Soon the Apartheid Wall will reach the site of the demonstration, and the Ghettoization of the area will be complete. Where grapes are the prime source of income and unemployment rates soar, this maneuver will effectively strangulate the already fragile local economy.
The wall in the Al-Khadr region will annex 20,000 dunums of Palestinian agricultural land, while the expansion of Betar Illit, Neve Daniel and Elazar colonial settlements will similarly steal additional lands. The Wall in the Al-Khadr and Bethlehem area will also imprison 19,000 Palestinians in between the concrete barrier and the 1967 West Bank border line, known as the "green line."
For these reasons, local Palestinians, Israeli activists with Anarchists Against the Wall and Tay'ush, as well as international activists with the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP), joined for a morning of civil disobedience with the intention of dumping a portion of the ample, though unmarketable, grape harvest onto Route 60 in protest. Approximately fifty demonstrators marched on Route 60, blocking northbound traffic, en route to Al-Khadr checkpoint, but were preemptively attacked by Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) police and soldiers. At the scene were numerous armored police jeeps, police transport vans and armored military jeeps. Also on hand was at least one agent with Shabak (Shin Bet), the occupation's covert intelligence agency, seen filming the IOF's brutality with a handheld video camera.
Despite the presence of Reuters cameramen and other international media, around thirty IOF soldiers and police quickly attacked the non-violent demonstrators who carried cardboard crates of grapes. With their hands unable to be used as shields, many were beaten causing the grapes to prematurely spill onto the road. As the demonstrators attempted to continue their march, IOF police and soldiers choked, kicked and punched the demonstrators. Some police used military-style 'pain compliance' maneuvers, such as applying immense pressure to wrists and other sensitive joints, as well as wrenching back fingers and hands. Activists were thrown, and dragged by their ears, noses, necks and hair, while other police and soldiers forced demonstrators to the ground by leaning their weighted knees onto demonstrators' heads and necks. Many activists were roughly thrown to the ground and dragged across the asphalt road, ripping their clothes. While attempting to stand up, many were pushed and kicked by the booted IOF police and soldiers.
During the assault, six people were arrested: two Palestinian males, one international female, and two Israeli males. The two Palestinian males, Mohammad Salah, 25, and Ahmed Salah, 30 were detained for carrying boxes of grapes, and while Ahmed was released at the end of the demonstration, Mohammad was not so lucky. Following the demonstration, Mohammad was taken by IOF soldiers to a wooded area near Betar Illit colonial settlement. When the soldiers reached this isolated area, they kicked and beat Mohammad in the head and shoulders. He is currently under care at a Bethlehem-area hospital. The international, an American woman, and the two Israeli men are currently still being held in Israeli custody at Gush Etzion police compound, housed within the colonial settlement of the same name.
Despite the unprovoked and extreme violence from the IOF, the demonstration was a great success. The primarily settler-used roadway of Route 60 was colored green and purple with the crushed remains of grapes and cardboard cartons. Passing settlers were able to witness the violence that their presence "necessitates," and many reacted by honking their horns, photographing the demonstration, and one man was even seen proudly waving a peace sign. Though the grapes never reached the mouths of consumers, they were purchased from the farmers and given a political purpose on the road-a stretch of route 60 bordering Al-Khadr checkpoint, as well as a currently under-construction terminal checkpoint, and a small length of the Apartheid Wall already built and waiting to be connected to the Bethlehem portion.
For more information on the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP), please visit: www.palestinesolidarityproject.wordpress.com
6. Settlers steal fruit in Kufr Qallil during olive harvest
by ISM Nablus, October 1st
While harvesting with the Palestinians of Kufr Qallil, colonial settlers from Berakhya settlement were observed entering a Palestinian fruit grove and stealing fruit. The area in question is located south-east of Nablus city center, and surrounded by At Tur and Huwarra checkpoints, a settler-only road, and a military observation tower.
On a road cutting through the Palestinian fruit grove is a fountain used by colonial settlers to bathe. Today this fountain was especially busy as the local men ceremonially cleansed for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which was to begin that night. From their vantage point in the Kufr Qallil olive grove, international activists observed seven men drive into the area in three cars, take two bags from the trunk, and enter the grove. They then watched as the settler men stole figs and pomegranates, filling two large bags. This crime was caught on video, and while one activist filmed, two others hiked down the hill to intervene, after calling the DCO (District Coordination Office) to report the crime in progress.
The DCO was seemingly not interested in listening to the crime report, and appeared more concerned with why the activists were in the area. While waiting for the DCO, the activists approached three of the settlers and inquired as to why they were stealing fruit. The settlers responded by saying that the "law" allowed them to be in the Palestinian farmland, and that, "The law says [that] all Arabs are killers." Pointing to the Palestinian grove, the settler continued, "All of this land is ours, we live in that village up there." The "village" he pointed to is the militarized hilltop colonial settlement of Berakhya where the settlers reside.
After approximately twenty minutes, the DCO arrived, though at this point the settlers had left with their stolen fruit. The activists reported the crime for the third time, and showed the DCO more than fifty pictures documenting the incident. These pictures included the license plates of all of the vehicles, the vehicles themselves, and the faces of the settler thieves. The soldiers initially refused to record any of the information offered, but after repeated requests they looked at the pictures and wrote scant notes on a scrap of paper.
While reporting the crime of the seven settlers to the DCO and soldiers, another settler man with a child in his arms entered the grove and began to steal more fruit. The activists alerted the soldiers to this obvious crime going on in front of their eyes. One soldier entered the grove and spoke to the settler, though the settler proceeded to steal, and within a few minutes the DCO and soldiers left without stopping the evident crime. Before leaving, the soldiers told the activists to wait on site in order to report the incident to additional soldiers en route. No additional soldiers ever responded.
The three cars involved in the fruit theft are: 1.) silver Ford, Mondeo, license plate, 64-017-56 2.) white Chevrolet Aved LT, license plate, 45-193-59 3.) black Volkswagen Polo Classic, license plate, 53-784-18
7. Stones and fire in Kufr Qallil - yet the olive harvest continues
by ISM Nablus, report filed October 5th Omar Suleiman from Kufr Qallil walked through his 10 dunums of olive trees on Saturday the 30th of September, occasionally grabbing hold of a tree trunk and nimbly climbing up to inspect the higher clusters of fruit. He shook his head and gestured toward the empty branches here and there. Nestled on a slope between Berakhya colony and Huwarra checkpoint and military base, his olive grove is frequently invaded by Israeli colonists. They beat the trees to make the ripest olives fall to the ground in order to steal them, and also sabotage the harvest in other ways. About two months ago, they set fire to a 16 dunum large plot of land below the olive grove. Haj Suleiman's family now have to trudge up a slope of desolate scorched earth in order to reach their land - an ugly reminder of the threat that the Israeli colonists of Berakhya present to their Palestinian neighbours.
Two years ago, the family was attacked by a group of Israeli colonists armed with machineguns. Haj Suleiman bears scars on his chin and scalp from big rocks thrown at him in unprovoked outbursts of colonist violence. When he attempted to defend himself by physically restraining his attackers, the Israeli military retaliated by forcing him and his family out of their house at two o'clock in the morning for five nights in a row - threatening the family members with violence and randomly breaking parts of their furniture. The family is now afraid to go to harvest their olives from the land closest to the colony. After having kept silent and submissive for a few years, the family have now had enough, and therefore decided to request international and Israeli accompaniment this year.
The first three days of harvesting in Kufr Qallil were relatively quiet, apart from an incident of theft from land on the south side of the road leading up to Berakhya colony. Israeli colonists were spending the eve of Yom Kippur bathing at a holy mountain spring adjacent to the road, some of them also having brought bags to fill with Palestinian figs and pomegranates.
On the fourth day of harvesting (Tuesday October the 3rd), an armored jeep full of soldiers arrived at the scene, shouting and motioning at the olive pickers to cease their work. They told the group - Haj Suleiman, his family and volunteers from IWPS and ISM - to pack up and leave as they had not obtained permission from the DCO (District Coordination Office) and were therefore not allowed to work the land on that particular day. Although the group argued that this order was unlawful and requested that the soldiers consult their higher commanders and the DCO before chasing them off the land, the soldiers insisted and threateningly escorted everyone back to the village. Afraid of retaliation, the family did not wish to directly resist the order but after hours of phone calls to the International Committee of the Red Cross and various levels of command at the DCO, it was ascertained that the order given by the soldiers was actually contrary to Israeli law and military policy, in light of recent judicial developments.
On 26 June 2006, the Israeli High Court of Justice issued a ruling in response to a petition regarding the right of Palestinian farmers, who are residents of the West Bank, to gain access to their land (H.C.J. 9593/04 Rashad Morar v. The IDF Commander for Judea and Samaria). In short, the court decision means that Palestinian farmers have a right to enter and work their land, with or without DCO permission, and that the military commander in the area must defend this right. In the past, Israeli military have often opted for attempting to stifle any violence on the part of Israeli colonists by declaring land a "closed military zone." They have justified this by saying that the law is aimed to protect the Palestinian residents, but has in reality saved them from any real confrontation with Israeli colonists. The court ruling stipulates that this is no longer allowed and that territorial closure is subject to a number of strict preconditions.
This decision is crucial to many Palestinian farmers in providing them with a legal weapon to use in fighting for their rights to their land. Apart from land in "red zones," which are not subject to such rapid status changes as "closed military zones," and can be checked on military maps, all farmers should in theory be unhindered and protected in working their land and harvesting their olives this season. Tuesday's events, however, clearly illustrate how this new policy, whether due to misinformation or malice, is not being implemented by soldiers on the ground.
It seems that the more senior and legally conscious echelons of the Israeli military are reluctant to inform foot-soldiers about the changes unless faced with farmers or volunteers who know the law and can argue their case. This was made apparent yesterday, as the DCO tried to dissuade Haj Suleiman from harvesting his olives on the day he wanted, instead suggesting a later date more suitable to them. Despite this, the family continued harvesting, their numbers boosted by international and Israeli volunteers, the latter from Rabbis for Human Rights and other anti-occupation organizations. The Israeli military were also present, although this time as protection from Israeli colonists.
Despite manipulation and lies from the Israeli military and the DCO, the olive harvest continues. We urge all internationals to do their utmost to come to Palestine in solidarity with farmers who have been denied safe and unconditional access to their land. Harvesting is resisting.
Footnote: Wednesday night, more violence befell the village of Kufr Qallil, when 40 year old Nasir Hasan Mansur was shot by Israeli military. Mansur was sitting in front of his home when the soldiers fired north from Beit Ur checkpoint, hitting him in the left foot.
For another account of the fourth day of the picking (October 3rd), see this report on the IWPS site.
A reporter from The Times in London joined ISM, IWPS and Rabbis for Human Rights volunteers for one of these picking days. His report, focusing on the Rabbis, is published on the Times website at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-2394974,00.html.
8. Palestinian Resident of Hebron Detained for Sitting on the Street
by ISM Hebron On Saturday the 7th of October at 2pm about ten Israeli settlers, aged 15 to 20, harassed Palestinians on the hill above Beit Hadassah settlement in Tel Rumeida, Hebron. Palestinians were afraid to go home and international human right workers observing were attacked by settlers who tried to push the video camera out of the hands of one activist. An Israeli human right worker who came for the weekend translated their conversation. Settlers were talking about the inconvenience of human rights workers having a video camera, and their faces on tape, if they wanted to beat them up. The settlers were standing on the hill, harassing Palestinians, for about forty minutes and then left only to come back on Shuhada street twenty minutes later, causing problems for human rights workers sitting on the side of the street. The settlers were screaming that human rights workers are Nazis generally and behaved very aggressively. A settler family passed by and the son, aged five, tried to spit at the internationals which was cheerfully encouraged by his mother.
At 3.45pm a Palestinian resident named Issa Amro and three international human right workers were sitting together on Shuhada street. An Israeli police Jeep pulled up and an officer named Nabeeh Hosin demanded that Issa show him his ID. Issa complied and Nabeeh asked Issa where he lived and what he was doing sitting on Shuhada Street with the human rights workers. Issa replied he lived in the area but Nabeeh ordered him to leave. At this point, Issa got a telephone call and began speaking on the phone. Nabeeh ordered him to hang up the phone and pay attention to him and when Issa did not immediately comply, he ordered him into the back of the police Jeep. Nabeeh and his colleague got out of the jeep and grabbed Issa, violently pushing him into the back of the jeep. Seeing Issa being arrested for no good reason was totally unacceptable to the human rights workers who informed the two police officers that if they were taking Issa with them, they would also be taking them. They did not want him to be alone at the police station at the mercy of the Israeli police.
The three of them were taken to the Kiryat Arba police station where they were interrogated and suspected of "interfering with police work". They were otherwise treated acceptably. This probably had something to do with an Israeli lawyer calling the police on their behalf and a representative from the Danish embassy arriving on the behalf of the two internationals from Denmark and Sweden. Issa was detained for four hours. The international human rights workers were detained for five and a half hours. Issa was also forced to sign a paper to ensure he'd come to an eventual trial. If he refused to sign the paper, he would have been brought to prison at once without any trial the interrogator at Kiryat Arba police station said. He confirmed during interrogations with the human rights workers that Palestinians are not allowed to sit on the street but merely permitted to walk to their homes as they are considered to be a security threat.
9. Armed Israeli Colonists Move Freely While Army Restricts Palestinian Movement
For video evidence from this day: click here to view or click here to download. A description of each part of the video is at the end of this report.
At 1.30pm on Sunday 8th October 2006, soldiers closed the main checkpoint into Tel Rumeida, Hebron (checkpoint 56) to all people wanting to enter H1 (the part of Hebron under Palestinian Authority control). Pedestrian traffic in the opposite direction was not restricted. International Human Rights Workers (HRWs) approached the soldiers who would not give a reason for the closure other than "it is Succot" (a Jewish holiday). Palestinians wishing to pass through the checkpoint were told to climb the steep hill of Tel Rumeida and enter H1 via another checkpoint instead, regardless of the lengthy detour that this would involve. Soldiers also informed Palestinians that the checkpoint would remain closed until 7pm.
Twenty-four soldiers then passed through the checkpoint into H1 where they ordered the closure of shops, diverted traffic (causing gridlock in Hebron for much of the afternoon) and took a sniffer dog around parts of the city centre. Soldiers roamed around in H1 for no apparent reason and would not make any comments about why they were in parts of the city that had not been ordered closed.
At 3.30pm a large group of settlers and pro-settler tourists came to the H2 (the area of Hebron formally controlled by the Israeli army and police) side of the checkpoint and deliberately obstructed the path of Palestinians entering H2 for several minutes, refusing to stand aside when asked. This group were then allowed to pass through the checkpoint without being searched, while throughout the day Palestinians had been subject to unusually rigorous bag checks. Despite having their own private armed guards, the settlers and tourists were accompanied by over 30 soldiers and police officers. Soldiers later informed HRWs that the tourists had come to Hebron to visit the Cave of Otniel Ben-Knaz, which is located within the ground floor of a private Palestinian house in H1. Meanwhile in H1, HRWs witnessed the tourists making "victory" signs to the Palestinians they passed.
At 4pm the tourists and soldiers returned to checkpoint 56 and most continued along Al Shuhada Street to the Beit Hadassah settlement. Shortly afterwards, soldiers fired tear gas at Palestinians on the H1 side of the checkpoint after a small crowd had begun throwing stones and letting off fireworks. The checkpoint was then reopened and remained open for the rest of the afternoon. A small group of tourists later came to the checkpoint to take photographs of the HRWs and to tell them to "get the fuck out of Israel".