The month of May saw an increase in settler violence in the neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida in Hebron, where Palestinians live in close proximity to very aggressive, ideological Israeli Jewish settlements. Although many of these settlers are well known, they rarely face any consequences for their violent actions. Not only does their violence go unpunished, but the Palestinians who suffer the violence are frequently punished by the Israeli authorities, often being arrested at the request of the very same settlers that attacked them.
On May 9th, a Palestinian woman and her two children from the Abu Shamsiye family were on their way to the shop in Tel Rumeida. One of her children was attacked by settlers. A Palestinian man pushed the settlers away from the crying Palestinian child, and this made the settlers furious. They wanted the Palestinian man arrested for “pushing a settler” – even though it was self-defense. When soldiers did not arrest the Palestinian man, the settlers started harassing people and attacked a Palestinian woman trying to film the incident. The harassment went on for over an hour, during which they spit at and pushed people. The soldiers prevented many people from going to their homes. When the woman returned from the shop a while later, she was not allowed to go home either. It was quite some time before she was allowed to pass. International Solidarity Movement (ISM) documented the incident on video and wrote a full report. Read the report and watch the video here.
On May 16th, a group of settlers attacked the Abu Aisha family and soldiers arrested one family member: 19 year old Ashraf. According to his father, Taysir, settlers told the police that he grabbed a pipe and was going to hit them, when in fact, they were the ones who hit Ashraf with the pipe. Soldiers saw the settlers following them and attacking the Abu Eisha family, however, not only did they neglect to do anything, but they stood by the attackers. Taysir and one his relatives gave an interview to CPT concerning the incident. Watch the video here.
On May 17th, Mirvit Abu Eisha was attacked by settlers. Her husband told CPT that there have been a lot of attacks in recent years, but the worst attacks have happened during the last 10 days. When the settlers pushed his wife, the family thought she was pregnant because she lost a lot of blood. According to the husband, the hospital said she was not pregnant, but she did lose a lot of blood.
On May 23rd, settlers in Tel Rumeida attacked another Palestinian family. This time it was the Azzeh family, who live just below the settlement caravans established in 1984. During the morning, settlers parked a vehicle in front of the family house entrance, leaving only a tight space to pass through. Later, settler children aged 10-12 attacked the family and international volunteers. The daughter was hit and while she was showing the footage of the incident to soldiers, they accused her of stone throwing and were about to arrest her. At the same time, settlers again started throwing stones, this time at the family’s home, and the soldiers left to “check”. The soldiers did not come back and no settlers were reprimanded, much less detained or arrested for stone throwing. This is in stark contrast to what would happen if they were Palestinians. Palestinian children as young as 5 years old have been arrested for stone throwing, even though according to Israeli law it is only legal to arrest starting at the young age of 12. ISM was present during the incident. Read the full report here.
This increase in settler violence in Tel Rumeida comes at the time of the formation of the most right-wing coalition government in Israel. High levels of impunity for settlers has been a reality since the start of the settlement project in the Occupied Territory, and the prospect for this impunity to decreese seems very unlikely at the moment. Conversely, this might very well be a sign that it will increase.