From the Tel Rumeida CPTnet Archives
An Open Letter to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
Re: Attack on the Abu Haikel family
Urgent Action request to CPT constituency
CPTNET Sept. 28, 1995
Open Letter to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
To: The Honorable Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
Re: Increased Violence in Hebron
At dusk on 22 September 1995, Palestinian Mediha Abu Heikal, age 55 and grandmother of three, was walking near her home in the Tel Rumeida area when she was stoned by Israeli settlers. The group of teen-aged settlers were armed and wielded sticks and belts. They threw stones at Mediha. One baseball-size stone hit Mediha in the forehead, above her right eye. The soldiers who witnessed the incident did nothing in response.
At 8 pm Hani Abu Heikal, Mediha’s 26-year-old son, found out about the incident. He phoned the Israeli police who informed Hani that there were no officers available, and no police would be sent to investigate. Mr. Jameel Abu Heikal, Mediha’s husband, left the house to speak with the Israeli military officer and the soldiers who were standing at the checkpoint at the time of the assault. The army officer told Mr. Abu Heikal to go back to his home and keep quiet. Shortly afterwards, three settlers stood at the gate of the Abu Heikal home and threatened the family. The settlers were identified as David Shilansky, Sarah Marzel, and Baruch Marzel. They shouted threats: “We will kill you. We will come and do as Baruch Goldstein.”
Hani Abu Heikal decided he had had enough. When the settlers left the gate of his home, Hani and his sister Hanna went out of the house to speak with the soldiers who witnessed the incident. Holding a metal pipe in his hand, Hani told the soldiers that if the Israeli police did not come to respond to the assault of his mother and the harassment of his family by the settlers, he would take the law into his own hands. The soldiers ordered Hani and Hanna back to their home, and they complied. The soldiers called the police who arrived promptly at 8.30 pm and arrested Hani and Hanna Abu Heikal. Later in the evening, Mediha Abu Heikal was taken by soldiers to the police station to file a complaint against the settlers who assaulted her. After a four-hour detention, Hani and Hanna Abu Heikal were released on NIS 500 (165 US dollars) bond per person. The stone to Mediha’s head did not break the skin but resulted in an egg-shaped bump, raised about 1/2 inch from the surface of the skin. The morning after the assault, she was taken to the hospital for treatment of internal bleeding of the injury.
Since our arrival in Hebron in June 1995, the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) has witnessed numerous forms of violence used by armed Israeli settlers against the Palestinian residents of Hebron, including stoning, verbal insults, and physical attack. Who holds the settlers accountable for violent acts directed toward Palestinians? We have observed that Israeli soldiers who witness settler violence toward Palestinians do nothing in response, as was the case for Mediha Abu Heikal on 22 September 1995. We understand that it is the responsibility of the police to protect Palestinians from settler attack, and to respond promptly and effectively when harassment and assault occur. We have observed that the police are caught between the manipulation of the armed settlers, and the mandate of the law. Furthermore, there are apparently not enough police to respond quickly when settler assaults on Palestinians occur.
During this interim period in which the settlers are allowed to remain in Hebron, the Christian Peacemaker Team calls for: 1) immediate disarmament of the settlers in the city center of Hebron, in Qiryat Arba settlement, and in settlements surrounding the city; 2) preventive measures to be taken by Israeli police to protect Palestinians from settler attack; and 3) prompt and effective response by Israeli police to emergency calls for help and formal complaints filed against settlers who harass and harm Palestinian residents of Hebron.
We ask that you do all in your power to halt the violence in the city of Hebron.
Christian Peacemaker Team, Hebron
Kathy Kern Wendy Lehman
Carmen Pauls Hedy Sawadsky
Phone: 050 397 506 Mailing Address: PO Box 326 Hebron
URGENT ACTION APPEAL
25 September 1995
The above letter has been sent to Israel’s Prime Minster Yitzhak Rabin and Minister of Police Moshe Shahal, the United Nations Security Council, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, and Hebron Mayor Mustafa Natsche. As stated above, we have witnessed numerous forms of violence used by armed Israeli settlers against the Palestinian residents of Hebron. We have observed that the soldiers and the police seem to fear the settlers, allowing the armed settlers to effectively manipulate the response and actions of the Israeli police. It is evident in the incident involving the Abu Heikal family, the settlers are not held accountable for violent acts against Palestinians. In fact, we have observed that Palestinians pay the price and are punished for the acts of settler violence against them i.e. Hani and Hanna were the ones arrested instead of the persons who assaulted their mother.
In spite of formal complaints to the police, the harassment of the Abu Heikal family has persisted for twelve years. It is apparent that the purpose of the settler harassment is to intimidate the family, wear them down, and drive them out of their home in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron. Many of the Palestinian families living near settlements face this type of ongoing harassment. We call for an end to the violence. Ferial Abu Heikal, headmistress of the Qurtuba school for girls and Palestinian resident of the Tel Rumeida area, observed: “Once there was much friendship between Jews and Muslims here. It is again possible if they live without weapons.”
Friends, due to increased harassment of Palestinian residents of Hebron by armed Israeli settlers, we ask for your cooperation in this urgent action appeal. Please fax the following sample letter to the six persons whose fax numbers are provided below ASAP.
Thanks for your partnership in the work!
Kathy Kern Wendy Lehman
Carmen Pauls Hedy Sawadsky
It has come to my/our attention that incidents of settler violence toward Palestinian residents of Hebron have increased. During this interim period in which the settlers are allowed to remain in Hebron, I/we call for:
1. Immediate disarmament of the Israeli settlers in the city center of Hebron, in Qiryat Arba ettlement, and in other settlements surrounding the city;
2. Preventive measures to be taken by Israeli police to protect Palestinians from settler attack;
3. Prompt and effective response by Israeli police to emergency calls for help and formal complaints filed against settlers who harass and harm Palestinian residents of Hebron.
We ask that you do all in your power to work towards these ends. Thank you for your prompt attention to my/our concern with the increased violence in the city of Hebron. Respectfully,
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF DEFENSE YITZHAK RABIN
In his capacity as Prime Minister,
Fax in Israel, Palestine or West Bank 02 664 838
In his capacity as Minister of Defense, Fax in Israel, Palestine or West Bank 03 696 2757
From the US or Canada 011 9722 664 838, or 011 9723 696 2757
MR. MOSHE SHAHAL, ISRAELI MINISTER OF POLICE
Fax in Israel, Palestine or West Bank 02 811 832
From the US or Canada 011 9722 811 832
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Fax in the US or Canada (212) 968 4879
From Palestine, West Bank or Israel 001 212 968 4879
US SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
Fax in the US or Canada (202) 647 7120
From Palestine, West Bank or Israel 001 202 647 7120
PALESTINIAN NATIONAL AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN YASSER ARAFAT
Fax in Israel, Palestine or West Bank 07 822 366
From the US or Canada 011 9727 822 366
HEBRON MAYOR MUSTAFA NATSCHE
Fax in Palestine, Israel or West Bank 02 9928 293
From the US or Canada 011 9722 9928 293