Another posting to illustrate what an expansion of the Israeli settlement enterprise will mean to the residents of Tel Rumeida. Changes in the organization over the last eighteen years probably would have resulted in the title for this piece being, “Israeli soldiers fail to protect three young children from settler attack.”
17 October 1995
“Christian Peacemaker Team members accompany school girl”
by Wendy Lehman
HEBRON, WEST BANK — Wisam Abu Haikel is five years old. She lives with her family near the Israeli settlement of Tel Rumeida, which houses some of the more notoriously radical settlers. The only time her mother lets her risk leaving the house is to go to school. Even then, settlers have harassed, stoned and hit Wisam. Israeli soldiers at a nearby checkpoint have witnessed the attacks and have done almost nothing to stop the settlers.
The area is guarded by several Israeli military checkpoints. In order to travel to and from their homes, Palestinians must pass through these checkpoints and past Tel Rumeida. Often, Palestinians are harassed and delayed as they attempt to go through the checkpoints to go home. Sometimes, the settlers block their vehicles or commit acts of violence against them.
Settlers have stoned, egged and firebombed Palestinian cars and have attacked people.
On October 15 as Wisam traveled home from school with neighbors Fadi Idajani (aged four) and Nor Sunuqrut (aged three), settler children standing near the checkpoint called them dogs. One settler girl (aged about nine or ten) punched Wisam in the right arm.
The Israeli soldiers who stood nearby did nothing until Wisam’s grandfather Jameel and Nor’s mother Muna, who waited for Wisam past the checkpoint, shouted, “Don’t hit Wisam!” A soldier then pulled the settler girl away.
These attacks occur regularly, said Wisam’s mother Hannah. On October 11, the same settler girls threw stones at Wisam and Fadi as they returned home from school, hitting both children. One of the settler children slapped Wisam in the face. Again, the soldiers stood by.
Christian Peacemaker Team members were invited by the Abu Haikels to accompany Wisam and Fadi home from school as they walk past the settlement.
On October 16 when CPTers Dianne Roe and Wendy Lehman came to wait for Wisam, two settler girls stood next to the soldiers at the checkpoint. When they saw the CPTers, they left the area.
Roe and Lehman accompanied Wisam through the checkpoint and there met with Wisam’s grandfather Jameel who was waiting for her. After the CPTers visited with the family, they headed back down the hill to leave the area.
When they approached the checkpoint, about 20 settler boys and men walked into Tel Rumeida settlement across from the Israeli soldiers. Approximately six or seven soldiers faced Roe and Lehman.
Lehman said, “Good afternoon,” to the settlers. After the CPTers passed, a settler threw a stone at them, hitting Lehman in the back. The stone was blocked by Lehman’s backpack.
“I think we’ve just been stoned,” Lehman told the soldiers with a smile.
The soldiers laughed.
“You know,” added Lehman ironically, “It’s nice to know there are soldiers here keeping people safe.”