PSP Activists in Al-Jab’a Targeted, A Week of Arrests
***Update on abductions in Al-Jab’a***
At 7am on 18 December 2006, Palestinian residents of Al-Jab’a went to try to plow their land near the Beit Shemesh checkpoint and the Apartheid Wall. Six people, including PSP activist Hamza Muhammed Al-Tous, set out with two tractors but were stopped by Israeli soldiers and detained at the Beit Shemesh checkpoint. The soldiers ordered Shadi Muhammed Al-Tous to take the tractors back to Al-Jab’a, and arrested Hamza and Wasfi Ibrahim Abu Latifa. 22-year-old Hamza and 20-year-old Wasfi, both university students, were taken to the Israeli military base in Beit Shemesh. The soldiers confiscated Hamza’s telephone because he had used its camera to photograph the soldiers when they stopped the tractors, fined them 2,000 NIS, and made them sign papers saying that they would be arrested immediately if they returned to the area, including the land that belongs to them. After being detained for six hours and signing the papers against their will, Hamza and Wasfi were released.
On 20 December 2006, Israeli soldiers entered Al-Jab’a at 3am and arrested the head of the town council, Mufid Abu Loha, as well as Wissam Hamdan and PSP activist Haitham Hamdan. The Israeli soldiers searched their houses, damaging their belongings and taking the hard drive of Haitham’s computer. The three were taken to the military detention center in the Gush Etzion settlement, where Palestinians are frequently tortured and beaten by the Israeli military. The Israeli interrogators told them that they had been arrested for their participation in a peaceful march to protest the violent behavior of settlers from Bat ‘Ain, and other nonviolent resistance activities like trying to open the road leading to Al-Jab’a. The Israeli interrogators beat them and accused them of involvement in “forbidden political activities.” Wissam was released the next day (December 21st), but Mufid and Haitham are still being interrogated in the Gush Etzion detention center.
All of this repression comes after two days of demonstrations in which PSP rented tractors and accompanied farmers to their land near the settlement of Beit ‘Ain to plow their land. On those days, because of the large presence of international activists, there were no problems with the settlers, though the settlers from this small outpost-turned-settlement are some of the most violent in the area.
The land which the farmers plowed has suffered extensive damage from the Israeli settlers. About six months ago, settlers from Bat ‘Ain burned approximately 30 large olive trees planted on 60 dunams of land belonging to Al-Jaba’a farmers. The settlers have also shot at farmers and their equipment as they work this land. Because of this and other similar attacks, the farmers from Al-Jaba’a requested that activists accompany them when they work on their land near the settlement.