Soldiers Use Extreme Violence as They Demolish 4 Homes in The South Hebron Hills

15 February 2007

Yesterday, at approximately 2:30pm the Israel Occupation Forces came to the Um Al-Kher, near Carmiel settlement, and demolished 4 homes, as part of a string of home demolitions in the wider Yatta region. The residents of Um Al-Kher have lived on the land in permanent and semi-permanent homes for centuries. Recently, the Carmiel settlement was built on their land and a program of displacement of the Palestinian residents began. Yesterday, two bulldozers were accompanied by over 50 soldiers and additional private security. International activists from PSP and Israeli activists from Ta’ayush joined the Palestinian residents as they resisted the bulldozing. First, they blockaded themselves into the homes with the residents. Then, after being forceably dragged from the home, they sat and laid down in front of the bulldozers along with the women of the community until the Israeli soldiers violently dragged them away.

The community was made up of 6 homes, one of which was a concrete building and one of which was an open tent. these were the only structures left standing. Two homes made of stone and two homes made of corrugated tin were razed to the ground. Residents were given 10-15 minutes to pull their belongings from their homes before the bulldozers destroyed them. One woman, Tareed Al-Hathaleen, and her 1 and half year old son were left with a partially damaged home. Her husband, Majed Al-Hathaleen, was arrested trying to protect his home. One Israeli activist was also arrested for sitting in one of the homes as the bulldozers attempted to demolish it. A third Palestine man, Jima’a Al-Hathaleen was also arrested while trying to get into his home to retrieve money that was left inside. All three were released last night.

Though all of the residents and solidarity activists were non-violent, the soldiers acted with extreme force. They threw sound grenades into groups of people that included very small children, and beat an elderly man and his wife, Saluman Al-Hathaleen, 55, and Maliha Al-Hathaleen, 50, who were transported by ambulance to Hebron. Soldiers kicked an elderly man’s leg that he recently had surgery on as he sat in front of his home. Several Palestinian women and older men were thrown to the ground and beaten as they attempted to protect their homes. The soldiers also beat two of the international activists, punching one in the head and ribs and the other in the back.

In all, over 35 people, including many small children and babies, were left completely homeless. One woman asked the international activists where her family should sleep that night and how she would get food for her children. The International Committee of the Red Cross, who has brought emergency tents and food to the community today, reported that the IOF had demolished homes in 4 different communities in the South Hebron Hills throughout the day.