The points made here in the article "Impeach the United States Government" and the treatment of the Palestinians as shown on Kawther Salam's site and their supporters in the article at the bottom about Tel Rumeida Hebron is mirrored in the horrendous treatment of Latin America by the belligerent neighbor to the North.
See the ongoing series of articles on this at The Justice of God
Europa & Palestine News « Kawther Salam
Impeach The United States Government
Violence is unceasing in this culture. War after war; a foundation of slavery, slave trade, and kidnapping. Perhaps this stems from the thought that Capital is the bottom line – or even a God to this culture and age. If you need more money and the money is the most important thing, then steal some more money, is basically what the United States government has been saying – and doing for many centuries now.
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Israeli Colonial Police and Military Harassment of International Human Rights Workers in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, Palestine
|Israeli Colonial Police and Military Harassment of International Human Rights Workers in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, Palestine|
Case Study: August 2005 – December 2005
The colonial Israeli army has an overwhelming presence in Tel Rumeida, with more than five street military posts on three blocks, a military base housing hundreds of soliders, numerous permanent posts on the roofs of Palestinian community members' homes, as well as constant walk-through patrols, and jeeps. The Israeli colonial police have two police stations within two kilometers of Tel Rumeida, and routinely come to the area. Both are legally obligated to protect all persons and property under their jurisdiction, regardless of national origin.
But the law does not function in Palestine. Colonial law is the law of impunity and violence. As the Arab proverb says, "If my judge is also my enemy, where will I find justice?"
In Tel Rumeida, the colonial Israeli settlers, soldiers, and police work together to create a hellish situation for Palestinian community members.
Internationals knew that the colonial Israeli police and military would have to be forced to protect the Palestinian community members and developed strategies with this aim, documenting also the refusal of the Israeli police and military from carrying out their stated laws, and documenting them committing their own human rights abuses against Palestinian people.
Internationals began working in Tel Rumeida, Hebron in April 2005 as a response to the increasing frequency and intensity of settler attacks occurring in the neighborhood. The internationals included members of CPT (www.cpt.org) and independent internationals working in the area. As one of their first activities, the internationals invited Israeli activists to visit Tel Rumeida on a solidarity visit to meet residents and learn about their situation.
The visit was scheduled for May 21, 2005. In the week preceding the visit, many Israeli activists began receiving phone calls from officers of the Kiryat Arba Police Station, asking them for details of the visit. It appeared that the police already knew many of the details, including meeting times and places.
On the morning of the scheduled visit, internationals began hearing reports of increased Israeli colonial military and police presence. An Israeli member of Machsom Watch trying to come to Tel Rumeida through Kiryat Arba reported that the entrance to Kiryat Arba had been closed and soldiers manning the entrance informed her that they were trying to prevent “leftists” from entering Hebron. Another Israeli activist who came early to scout out the area informed internationals that there were soldiers stationed at the proposed meeting place.
These Israelis then tried to find an alternative route to Hebron as their primary route through Kiryat Arba had been blocked. However, because Israelis are forbidden to travel in the Palestinian-controlled area of Hebron, their plans had become much more complicated. They traveled in Palestinian taxis to the entrance of Hebron, near Halhoul, and found that the road had been closed.
When the group reached the entrance to Tel Rumeida, they found that it was completely surrounded by soldiers, who were in the Palestinian-controlled area of Hebron against stated Israeli laws and agreements, something which the Israeli army violates as a matter of routine. The Israeli soldiers immediately arrested a large group of about 20 Israelis, charging them with illegally entering the Palestinian-controlled area of Hebron. Soldiers caught and arrested other Israelis as they were driving through back roads, trying to find an alternative entrance to Tel Rumeida. Still others were found inside Tel Rumeida, arrested and charged with having had been in the Palestinian-controlled area illegally. One group of about ten Israelis was able to make it into Tel Rumeida and spent about two hours running from soldiers and police and hiding in Palestinian homes. They were only able to visit two of the five families they were scheduled to meet.
INTERNATIONALS LIVING IN TEL RUMEIDA: AUGUST-NOVEMER 2005
Internationals began living in Tel Rumeida in August 2005. Two groups, Tel Rumeida Project and International Solidarity Movement (www.palsolidarity.org) agreed to share a home and work as partner organizations in the neighborhood.
Internationals recorded 20 settler attacks in less than two weeks in August, including fires, stoning, and robberies. Some of these attacks included colonial settler attacks against Israeli colonial police vehicles.
The harassment by the Israeli police and military against the internationals living in Tel Rumeida began within a month, in September. Though the colonial settler violence remained at a somewhat consistent level, Israeli colonial police and military harassment increased exponentially.
Internationals recorded 17 settler attacks in the month of September, including more Israeli settler attacks against Israeli police vehicles; Israel settler attacks against Israeli soldiers; robberies; and attacks against Palestinian homes.
Closed Military Zone Orders
CMZ orders are used by Israeli security forces throughout the West Bank in an attempt to remove Palestinian residents from areas ranging in size from a single Palestinian residence to an entire neighborhood or district. These orders consist of a military order written in Hebrew and Arabic, and a map with the desired area roughly indicated. CMZ orders are ubiquitous in Palestine.
Colonial Israeli police and soldiers on the streets of Tel Rumeida frequently produce xeroxed copies of a CMZ referring to the whole of the Tel Rumeida, or select areas, and use them in an attempt to remove both Palestinian community members and international HRWs.
The first closed military zone order was delivered to international HRWs by the Israeli police on September 4th, the second day of school for the students of Hebron. Police officer Hussein Nabia presented HRWs with a closed military zone order and told them to leave the area. HRWs were informed that the closed military zone order did not apply to Palestinians or Israelis, but was instead only applicable to internationals living in Tel Rumeida. They were forced to leave the school under threat of arrest.
September 9th began the daily campaign of closed military orders, all three of which were delivered by the Israeli police. On September 9th, four HRWs on Shuhada Street were repeatedly attacked by colonial settlers from Beit Hadassah while trying to accompany Palestinian families to their homes. The Israeli soldiers stationed at Beit Hadassah did not intervene to stop the settlers and, about ten minutes after the last attack, a different group of Israeli soldiers arrived, telling the HRWs that they would be taken to the police. When questioned as to the reason, these soldiers used three different stories.
Officers from the Kiryat Arba station of the Israeli colonial police arrived shortly after and took the four HRWs to the Kiryat Arba Colonial Israeli Police Station. Once they arrived, these officers told the HRWs that they were not arrested nor detained, but rather, had been taken to the police station to give the officers an opportunity to “explain the situation” to HRWs.
The officers went on to present the HRWs with an improperly filled out closed military zone order and then explained that the high military commander of the Hebron area had made a new high decision that internationals would no longer be allowed into Tel Rumeida on an indefinite basis.
There were many suspicious elements to the story, including: the three different stories that had already been used by the soldiers, the use of a closed military zone order for this new “high decision,” the improper filling out of the closed military order, the time of the order: 6:15pm, and the continuous arguments among these Israeli police officers about the details of this new high decision.
The Israeli colonial policemen then tried to convince the internationals that they would not be able to return to their home even to get their personal things; the officers then said that they would accompany the internationals to their home so that they could get their things and leave; finally ending by saying that the internationals could stay at their home for the night.
When the HRWs arrived to their home, they found two Israeli soldiers standing on the path to their house who demanded to check passports. The HRWs suddenly heard the soldiers banging on their home and the sound of glass breaking and began yelling at these soldiers. The captain demanded that the two female HRWs present go to unlock the door and when they refused, the soldiers, a total of six, left.
After returning to their home, the HRWs made a variety of phone calls and had their suspicions confirmed from many sources: there was no new high military decision banning internationals from Tel Rumeida. The Israeli police had lied and the military had assisted them by signing the order.
The next day, Saturday September 10th, the Kiryat Arba police delivered a second closed military zone order, extending from 10:00am until midnight. Closed military zone orders only last for 24 hours, after which they must be renewed.
Throughout the day the police were strict and present, threatening to arrest four internationals on two occasions as they tried to leave their home to buy food. EAPPI volunteers were allowed to walk freely through the neighborhood, demonstrating that the Israeli police were not targeting internationals in general, but rather, specifically the internationals that were living in Tel Rumeida.
Internationals received reports of ongoing Israeli colonial settler attacks against members of the Palestinian community during the day but were unable to leave their home because of the threats of arrest, with the likely aim of deportation.
On Sunday September 11th, Kiryat Arba police delivered a third closed military zone order, lasting from 9:45am Sunday until 6pm Monday evening. Three of the internationals argued that the order was illegal because it lasted for more than 24 hours and tried to challenge the legality of the closed military orders by choosing to stay in the street to accompany Qurtaba School teachers who were protesting at recently-upgraded checkpoint at the Shuhada street entrance of Tel Rumeida.
These three HRWs were soon arrested by the Kiryat Arba police who interrogated them and tried to have them deported. The Ministry of Interior did not allow the deportations to go through and the police released the internationals minutes before the 24-hour deadline, after which they would be legally obligated to let them see a judge. When their lawyer spoke to the police, they told the lawyer that they knew the HRWs were trying to challenge the legal basis of the closed military zone orders before a judge and were not going to allow
them to do it.
The next military order was not delivered until September 23rd and also extended longer than the legal 24 hour period, lasting from 5pm on September 23rd until midnight on September 24th. This order was delivered by Israeli soldiers, while the four previous orders were delivered by the Israeli police of Kiryat Arba. Israeli authorities delivered five closed military zone orders to the internationals who live in Tel Rumeida during the month of September, spanning seven days and effectively locking the internationals in their home for more than 105 hours
The groups’ lawyer sent a letter to Israeli Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, concerning the illegal closed military zone orders and has not yet received an answer.
Colonial Israeli Police Harassment Of International HRWs In Their New Home
On Monday, September 26th, internationals arrived to clean the home they had recently agreed to rent at the request of Palestinian members of the community and found Israeli police officers inside. The home is located directly next to the colonial Israeli "Ramot Yishai" settlement, imposing itself on an archaeological site listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Basem, one of the Israeli officers, stated that the police were using the home to watch the settlers and told the internationals that they would be prevented from moving in. The officers then forced one of the Palestinian men who had helped the internationals rent the home to come to the house. They then tried to convince this man not to allow the internationals to move in, telling him that the internationals would only cause problems by throwing stones at the settlers from their windows.
Internationals knew that the police would not allow them to move in unhindered, and so developed a strategy. On September 30th, they packed their belongings, bought a lock for the door of the new house, and waited until the lock was installed. They then rushed to the home with their belongings and locked the door. Israeli policemen arrived within minutes, standing at the door for over 30 minutes repeatedly asking to see the rent contract. They then forced the owner of the home to come to Tel Rumeida to confirm whether the internationals were renting the home.
On Monday, October 24th at approximately 9pm, six Israeli soldiers tried to enter the apartment shared by the Tel Rumeida Project and International Solidarity Movement, without a warrant or permit. When HRWs refused entrance, the soldiers called the police, saying that internationals would be arrested for interfering with the soldiers’ work.
Two Israeli police officers, Hussein Nabia and Rueben, arrived 20 minutes later and tried to convince the HRWs to open the door. Upon refusal, officer Hussein Nabia, forced the owner of the building to come to the internationals’ apartment to convince the internationals to let the Israeli police and army inside.
The new Israeli High Court decision banning the procedure known as "Early Warning" expressly prohibits forcing Palestinian civilians into pressuring other Palestinian civilians into abiding by the Israeli Occupation Forces’ demands. The police were repeatedly informed that they were breaking the High Court decision, but continued their illegal behavior nonetheless.
After receiving multiple phone calls from concerned individuals, the Israeli police and army left the internationals’ apartment.
The same Palestinian neighbor was then threatened by Nabia, who told him that he must move the internationals out of the home by Tuesday at 2pm and, if this was not done, the Israeli army and police would make life very difficult for this man and his family.
The entire incident was filmed by internationals.
On Tuesday, Nabia made four visits to the neighbor, continually threatening the man to get the internationals out of the apartment and pressuring him to make a complaint at the Israeli police station stating that the internationals were staying in the apartment against his will. At one point Nabia took out his videocamera and, filming the neighbor, screamed at him to say on film that he did not want the internationals to remain in the apartment.
During the next week, Israeli police repeatedly asked Palestinian residents of Tel Rumeida whether the internationals had left the home and who, if anyone, was offering to rent them another house.
Internationals have contacted Adala, the law group that successfully won the new High Court decision prohibiting Israeli security forces from using the "Early Warning" procedure, and are giving them a video of this incident, which they may use to pursue a case against the Kiryat Arba Police.
Multiple Internationals Arrested On False Charges; Israeli Police Try To Deport Them
REPORT BY J.
At approximately 1.15pm, I and another international were on Shuhada Street. I saw a soldier holding a 15-year old girl on her shoulders, so I walked over and filmed with my video camera while asking the soldier what was going on. The soldier said that the girl was refusing to leave the area.
After a minute, a group of three settlers aged 15-20 aggressively approached the girl. I tried to position myself between the Palestinian girl and the settlers. The settlers tried to grab my video camera and kicked and punched me - they were also trying to hit the girl. One of the settlers kicked the girl’s legs right before my eyes (there is a photo of this settler if he needs to be identified). The soldier did not to protect the girl from this assault.
After a minute or two we managed to get the girl away from the situation and walked with her up to Shuhada Street. Approximately five minutes later an Israeli police car came from the Beit Hadassah settlement and drove up to us. They walked up to the girl and started talking to her. I tried to stay close and film it all, but the police kept moving her away from me.
A mob of approximately 20 settlers (kids and adults, men and women) arrived, and tried to block my way. They grew more and more aggressive and punched the video camera out of my hand. They destroyed it by stamping on it and kicking it away. When I was making phone calls about the incident the settlers tried to grab my telephone. I was also kicked on the foot by a settler man approximately 50 years of age (this man can also be identified).
Two to three minutes later the Palestinian girl was put into the police jeep and driven away. Two other internationals (one more had joined us) and I tried to walk away towards the checkpoint but were physically stopped by a large settler who was filming us. He repeatedly told us that we couldn’t pass.
The mob was getting even more aggressive and I called out to two Israeli soldiers to help us to get out of there. They said we should follow them towards Beit Hadassah, and after a while we got away from the crowd. During this whole time, the settlers were constantly intimidating and threatening us, trying to get at us physically.
We walked with the soldiers through Beit Hadassah, and were told to wait there. We were not informed that we had been detained or arrested. The settler guy with the video camera was there filming the three of us. The soldiers told us to tell the other internationals in Hebron to get off Shuhada Street since they could not guarantee their safety.
The message was passed on.
After a while, when being questioned, one soldier told me that I was accused of attacking a soldier, which I had not done. The Israeli police arrived and asked for our passports and then told me that I was accused of attacking a soldier and the other two internationals were free to go. However, the others decided to go to the police station to file a complaint regarding the settler violence we all had experienced. The commanding police officer at the scene was Zev Zafrani.
I was transported in a military jeep to Kiryat Arba Police Station at about 14:10. The Palestinian girl sat in a chair a few meters away from me in company of three soldiers. At one point a policeman named Amitay asked her questions without a legal representative, despite the fact that the girl was only 15 years old.
Amitay was being aggressive and raised his voice, which the three soldiers sitting next to her seem to think was ok, judging from their content and merry facial expressions. There was one soldier who was watching the girl so she could not get away. This was the same soldier who had been holding the girl on her shoulders at the military post at the beginning of all this. He told me that the girl had attacked him with a knife. The girl was visibly trembling as she sat down waiting.
The girl disappeared from the scene on one or two occasions, presumably to be questioned, but came back to the waiting area. During this time her father was waiting at the gate to the police station, but was not let in. I pointed out this fact to various police officers, and asked them to let him in since the girl was obviously scared, but they refused.
After a while the two other internationals arrived at the police station, and were told to wait along with me. At approximately 16:15 I was taken in for questioning and Amitay told me I was a suspected of having attacked a soldier and interfered in his work. The soldier who I had supposedly attacked was at the desk next to me. When he overheard the accusations against me he laughed, not in an antagonistic way, but due to the absurd accusation. Later he told me that he did not say that I had pushed him, so it seemed as if Amitay was trying to intimidate me by making it sound worse than it actually was. Amitay continually lectured me, saying that I should not come to his country and interfere
with his business.
He told me that I might be deported or arrested, he didn’t know yet, and so on. I waited until 16:45, when I had been held for 3 hours without being arrested. I then asked Amitay if I could have my passport so I could leave, but he wouldn’t give it to me. I pointed out the fact that they were illegally detaining me on several occasions to the policemen, saying that I wanted to make a complaint that I was being illegally detained, but they said I could do this when the interrogation was over.
At approximately 18:10 I was given my passport back and Amitay told me that I was released, and that they would escort me and the two other internationals out of the police station. However this did not happen. Instead, Amitay threatened me with deportation once again and told us to wait while they cleared something up, saying “Just like in the movies, they release you and then they take you back in.”
Finally, at approximately 18:30, I and the two other internationals were taken to the gate and let out of the police station. We asked the policeman what was going to happen to the girl, and he said she would be arrested and held overnight.
At 9:25pm on November 8th, Andrew MacDonald, an international from Great Britain, went to meet two volunteers working elsewhere in Hebron. They were asked by approximately eight IDF soldiers to show their passports at a mobile patrol that had appeared at the top of the hill. The entire party of volunteers willing showed their passports and informed the IDF that passports could be read but that they were not entitled to confiscate the passports. (Both the Israeli military and police consistently illegally confiscate passports and IDs, using them to illegally detain the owner.)
While being shown, the passports were snatched from the hands of two of the volunteers. MacDonald then informed the Israeli police of the situation to ask for a police presence and inform them that passports had been taken.
The military commander, Assi, is a particularly aggressive soldier that has repeatedly assaulted the internationals living in Tel Rumeida in the month since he his unit has been moved there. Until this incident, Assi was the only soldier to have assaulted an international in Tel Rumeida.
The passports were kept for a number of minutes and then returned separately. Suddenly, the soldiers snatched the passport from the international’s hand a second time, checked it again for several minutes and then returned it. At this time, the illegality of passport confiscation was again pointed out and the passport was then snatched a third time.
Soldiers then twisted MacDonald’s arms behind his back, bound his hands with plastic handcuffs, and forcibly placed him into a military jeep. MacDonald was not informed of the reason for his detainment.
By this time, other internationals arrived. While objecting to the unlawful detention, J, an international from Sweden was detained by the army and again not informed of the reason. Soldiers, including Assi, repeatedly assaulted two other internationals, Chelli, an American, and David, a Canadian. The soldiers grabbed the internationals’ camera, pushing them, and twisting their hands and arms.
The police finally arrived and internationals immediately noticed that one of the officers was Hussein Nabia (Nabeeh Hussein), an officer that has repeatedly harassed them in the past. Recently he illegally tried to enter their home and then threatened their neighbor.
HRWs asked the police officers to address the issue of the detention, but they did not. Police then asked David for his passport and proceeded to snatch it from his grip. David was then arrested and dragged forcibly into the police vehicle. The soldiers had instructed the police to arrest him, and eventually informed David that he was under arrest for obstructing a military operation and/or attacking a soldier. The reason was unclear.
J who was filming the proceeding was dragged to the back of one of the military vehicles. He asked why he why he was being detained and was asked to produce his passport by the police. He did so, informing the police officer that it could not be confiscated. The officer then said that J must either surrender his passport at that time or go to the police station and have it done there. He informed the officer that both of these options were illegal. The police then informed J that he was being arrested for interrupting a military operation and he was placed in a police vehicle.
The police officers were then informed that although MacDonald was arrested on the grounds that he had not given his passport, he had actually given the military his passport on multiple occasions. It was also pointed out that the soldiers had repeatedly assaulted the HRWs, and that the HRWs had called the police to come to the scene.
The police officer then replied that he was bringing MacDonald to the station for a chat. When informed that this was obviously unnecessary, the international was then told that he was now under arrest. No charge was made.
Chelli had taken over filming and was then informed that she too was under arrest. Assi, the military commander had, on a whim, suddenly told a police officer that she had touched his gun and the police decided to arrest her as well.
Chelli was instructed to enter a military vehicle and replied that she could only be transferred to the police station in a police vehicle as it was illegal to transfer persons under civilian law in a military vehicle. She requested that a police vehicle be brought to the scene. After a period of argument she was manhandled into the military vehicle and was accompanied by a police officer. The event ended at approximately 22:00.
When the internationals got to the Kiryat Arba police station, everything changed. The two police officers, Nabia and another man, and three of the soldiers, including Assi, made their testimonies about the events.
Chelli was then told that she was being charged with the most serious of the charges and would be deported. The other three internationals were charged with less serious crimes and would be released with conditions. Chelli was charged with assaulting a soldier, pushing police officers and soldiers, tying her bag strap around the gun of a soldier, and blocking a military jeep. The others were charged with refusing to identify themselves and/or blocking a military jeep.
Chelli was taken to Gush Etzion and placed under suicide watch. She was not allowed to make any phone calls.
The police later revoked the male HRWs right to sign their conditions after the HRWs asked for explanation of the various conditions. They were taken to cells in Kiryat Arba and were not allowed to make phone calls despite their numerous requests.
All four internationals stayed in their cells the entire next day and were taken outside at 5pm. Each knew that they could only be held for 24 hours before seeing a judge and wondered why they had been kept in the cell all day if the police were trying to deport them.
When the internationals came before the judge, the police officers changed the story once again, now saying that all the internationals had been charged with assaulting a soldier. It appeared that the police had changed their paperwork. They also produced a secret letter from the Shin Bet describing the internationals as “dangerous.”
Judge Rafi Strauss was furious with the Kiryat Arba police, saying “I would like to express outrage and contempt for the behavior of the police.” He also stated that it “...should be seen in a very severe light to hold the defendants in custody for long hours after the interrogation was over.” He accused the police of misusing their positions and released the internationals on the condition that they not return to Tel Rumeida for 10 days.
Soldiers Assault HRWs; Erase Their Video Footage; Deportation Attempts Continue
On December 5, HRWs noticed IDF soldiers installing a coil of razor wire across the path leading down to Palestinian homes directly below the colonial Israeli Ramot Yishai settlement. A Palestinian family had recently won a court case granting them free access to this path.
HRWs who tried to speak with the soldiers were repeatedly assaulted; the unit commander, Assi, also tried to break one of the HRWs’ fingers. Soldiers forcibly took one HRW’s videocamera and returned it after erasing her footage of the events. The HRW continued to film and again soldiers took her camera and erased the footage. When she began to film a third time, the soldiers repeated the process.
Two more HRWs arrived and filmed the events from a distance. Border police and soldiers then surrounded all of the HRWs in the area and told them all to move away. A group of three soldiers surrounded one of the new HRWs and pushed him, quickly pinning him against a fence. Assi grabbed the strap of this HRW’s video camera and pulled him a few meters up the hill.
Israeli police then declared that one of the HRWs was under arrest for assaulting a soldier and promptly took him to the Kiryat Arba police station.
Meanwhile, Assi continued to pull against the strap of the HRW’s video camera while a group of four or five other soldiers surrounded the HRW, put him in a full body hold and forcefully pried the camera from his fingers. When the soldiers had succeeded in taking his video camera, they dropped him on the ground.
The soldiers took the camera to the military jeep and refused to return it, despite repeated demands by the HRWs present that they do so. The soldiers also refused to return one HRW’s passport, telling her that she must go to the police station to retrieve it. Two HRWs went to the police station to retrieve the passport and video camera and were kept waiting for one hour outside the gate of the police station as they repeatedly called different police officers asking to retrieve their confiscated property. They were eventually told by a police officer that the passport and video camera had been returned to Tel Rumeida.
The video footage on the tape had been erased in a similar fashion to that on the first camera and the sounds of soldiers speaking can be heard in the background.
The HRW who was arrested was detained overnight and repeatedly threatened with deportation. He was released the following day.
On December 14, at 12:30pm, Three internationals were escorting a Palestinian child and woman on their way home. When they reached the razor wire that recently has been blocking the Palestinian path next to the colonial Israeli Ramot Yishai ettlement, the soldier would not let them pass. Eventually, the woman was let through, since she is from the Azzeh family, but the little girl could not go through since she was from the neighboring house.
The internationals questioned this decision from the soldier and encouraged him to let the little girl pass as well. The soldier did not change his mind however, and after awhile the commander of the platoon, Assi, came to the scene.
One of the internationals started to film the incident, to document the fact that the soldiers were not letting the girl pass. The filming aggravated Assi to the point that he physically assaulted the international, lunged towards her, grabbed at her video camera and tried to steal it. The international managed to hold on to her camera, and since the Palestinian girl had left the scene at this point, not having been let through, the internationals started walking away from the soldiers down the hill towards Tel Rumeida Street.
A fourth international, who had witnessed Assi’s first attack from where he was standing 30 meters away from the razor wire, started to film the three internationals walking down the hill, to deter and to document a possible second attack.
Assi, however, did not react well to this, and approached the fourth international and, without any words, first bumped the international with his body and then caught a hold of the straps to the international’s shoulder bag and video camera and violently started yanking them, repeatedly. In this manner, the soldier slowly pulled the international up the hill towards the colonial Israeli Ramot Yishai settlement. The HRW told Assi to stop beating him and tried to walk away from Assi, which was not possible since Assi still was holding him by the straps.
Another soldier who was walking with Assi told the international to show his passport. The international said 3-4 times that he would be able to get his passport when Assi stopped assaulting him. This did not have any effect though, and the international soon lost balance and fell to the ground.
Assi continued to violently yank the strap as the international was half-sitting in a pool of water on the ground. A third female soldier came to watch and the international told her to try to talk some sense into her commander, who was obviously out of control, but she just said “you have to give him your camera,” despite the fact that IDF soldiers have no jurisdiction to confiscate things from internationals and the fact that Assi had never asked for the international’s camera.
Finally, Assi managed to pull the camera off the international, stole it, and walked away with his two soldiers.
During this whole abuse, 6-7 members of “Women in Green” who happened to be in the area on one of their weekly parades in the neighborhood, were cheering and clapping their hands as they witnessed the soldier assault the HRW from their vantage point near the colonial Israeli Ramot Yishai settlement.
Two other HRWs were trying to film the ongoing abuse, but soldiers blocked them, grabbed at their cameras, but did not manage to steal anything at this point. It was obvious that the soldiers’ strategy was to go after the cameras.
After this the situation temporarily calmed down.
A group of internationals were standing outside the apartment on top of Tel Rumeida Street. But a few minutes later, Assi and four soldiers approached the group of internationals. Assi was looking at one of the international’s camera, the same one he first had tried to steal. He gave the order to his crew to get the camera, and one of the soldiers told the international to give him the camera. She said no.
Assi then grabbed two of the other internationals standing there, shielding them away, and one soldier shoved away another international, while the three remaining soldiers threw the international with the camera to the ground, stole her camera, and left, as she was screaming for them to stop.
The international who previously was shoved away tried to photograph the assault with his still camera. The soldier that was blocking him then shoved him, grabbed and yanked his camera strap, pushed the international to the ground and stole his camera.
Once the soldiers had succeeded in stealing the three cameras to get rid of all the evidence of their abuse, they left the scene and walked back to the colonial Israeli Ramot Yishai settlement.
An Israeli activist tour group who happened to be in the area was alerted by the screams from one of the HRWs as she was attacked, and came to the scene. Israeli soldiers detained two of the Israelis from the tour group, took them to the military post at the colonial Israeli Ramot Yishai settlement, and kept them there for 15 minutes until the police arrived and released them.
HRWs made around ten phone calls to the Israeli military headquarters in Hebron, demanding to get the stolen cameras back. The woman on the phone kept saying “in a few minutes they’ll give it back to you.”
After approximately two hours, internationals saw a soldier coming from the colonial Israeli Ramot Yishai settlement, carrying the cameras to his post. When the HRWs went up to him and once again asked for the cameras, they were returned.
Both the tapes from the video cameras were completely erased, on the tapes were instead sounds of jeeps driving around, soldiers speaking, etc. The soldiers had ripped the roll out of the still camera, damaging the camera itself in the process.
The Ministry of Interior has repeatedly refused to extend visas for international HRWs living in Tel Rumeida. All three HRWs who have tried to renew their visa has been denied without an interview. These HRWs are those who were falsely arrested on November 8, 2005.
During her appointment in December 2005, Chelli was told by the Ministry of Interior employee that there was a note in her file telling the employee that she was not allowed to renew Chelli’s visa. When asked for a reason, the employee said that she did not know.
Kiryat Arba Police Target HRWs; Threats and Deportations
On November 24th, only two days after the four internationals had returned to Tel Rumeida, the military and police specifically targeted two of the internationals they had just failed to deport.
At 1:30pm, a military vehicle stopped near five internationals on Shuhada Street. The door opened, and a lieutenant colonel called to Chelli by name. She did not recognize this officer.
When Chelli arrived at the vehicle, the officer asked her what she was doing there. She replied that she lived there. When he did not seem satisfied with her answer, she explained that she had not been deported on November 9th, as was the goal of both the military and police. He still seemed to have something on his mind and asked to see her passport, looking at her visa.
She explained that she had a legal paper from the Ministry of Interior for an appointment to extend her visa. The officer looked at the date of her appointment and then looked at her, saying, “You’re not staying this long. We’re not going to let you stay this long.” He then returned her passport and drove away.
Just one hour later, a van of borderpolice arrived at Shuhada Street and, ignoring the four other internationals present, specifically targeted MacDonald, asking to see his passport.
They then told him that his appointment with the Ministry of Interior was illegal and immediately put him into the police van. He was taken to see a judge in the Ministry of Interior within two hours, where it was decided that he would be deported. Five hours later, he was in the Maasyaho Detention Center.
About one week later, security officers took Andrew MacDonald to the airport to be deported. He refused to get on the plane, telling the security officers that his deportation from Palestine by the Israeli government was illegal. Andrew MacDonald spent the next six weeks in detention centers before he was finally deported on January 13, 2006. During his time in detention Andrew was repeatedly threatened by security officials, who told him he would be given drugs to force him on the plane and that he would be placed in a mental institution if he continued to resist his deportation. Andrew MacDonald was also held in solitary confinement for one week during his detention.
Two other internationals that the police have specifically targeted since they arrived in Tel Rumeida decided to leave the area as soon as they heard that the police were trying to deport MacDonald, out of fear that they would also be targeted.
At 2:20pm on Thursday January 19th, David Parsons, a Human Rights Worker from Canada, was arrested by the Israeli Police in Tel Rumeida, Hebron and taken to Kiryat Arba Police station, then immediately to the Ben-Gurion Airport where he awaited deportation.
David stated from the airport detention center that “during the last week, the incessant settler attacks on the Palestinian residents have increased dramatically. International observers insist that the Israeli Military and Police fulfill their responsibilities of protecting the Palestinians; however, they clearly resent this and have been doing everything to remove witnesses from the area.”
There has been a concerted effort by the Israeli Military and Police forces to remove International HRW’s from Tel Rumeida, Hebron. David was one of 4 internationals arrested on false premises in early November 2005 in Tel Rumeida.
A deportation hearing was held for Mr. Parsons. The hearing found grounds for deporting him, citing his expired visa, despite his having an appointment with the Ministry of the Interior to extend it, due to the fact that the Ministry of Interior is extremely overbooked. Parsons was released on bail and deported on February 10, 2006. He will appeal his deportation.
International HRW, J – arrested on false charges with David on November 8, 2005 – left Tel Rumeida as soon as he learned of David’s arrest out of fear that he would also be targeted.
All of the international HRWs living in Tel Rumeida are aware that it the goal of the Israeli police and army to remove them from the area. Since September, the Israeli police have not only regularly refused to intervene in settler attacks against internationals and Palestinians -- as was the norm before internationals began living in the area -- but have habitually threatened to arrest the very internationals who called the police for help.
The internationals have taken extra precautions against the police, filming every interaction to record the threats of arrest and deportation that the Israeli police regularly use against internationals on the streets of Tel Rumeida.
Internationals also have implemented strategies to use when the police try to deport them. They fully expect that others will be targeted by the police for deportation.
Internationals have been living in Tel Rumeida for five months and, despite the Israeli settlers’ constant violence, and the Israeli police and army harassment against them, have been vigilant to behave in such a way as to not be deported.
Though the Israeli settlers and police constantly film the HRWs as they work in Tel Rumeida, though there are multiple military video cameras filming the area, and though soldiers are stationed throughout the neighborhood, none of these groups have ever recorded anything which they can use to legally deport any of the HRWs who live in Tel Rumeida. Thus, they resort to constant intimidation, threats, violence, and false charges.