International Activist Assaulted During Beit Ommar Invasion

26 July 2008

On Friday at approximately 6pm soldiers from the Israeli Occupation Forces began another of their “training” sessions in Beit Ommar, with units of soldiers coming from three sides and surrounding the village. Once again, there was no clear purpose to the exercise, apart from antagonizing the residents and terrifying children. An international volunteer, along with a Palestinian committee member of PSP both walked into the entrance to the village and began taking pictures of soldiers at the entrance, near the military watchtower. A soldier came out of the watchtower and began shouting at the international that it was forbidden for him to take pictures. The two activists continued walking into the village while the international continued to photograph the soldiers who had entered a small field in the lower part of the village. Suddenly, three military jeeps sped into the village, one stopping less than a foot away from the international activist. The jeeps cut off the street and soldiers jumped out of the car and demanded that he give them his camera, though they had no authority to demand such a thing, of which the international activist reminded them. Approximately 8 soldiers then surrounded the international, grabbing him from the back of the neck and began kneeing him in the chest while shoving him into a nearby garage. One soldier then pushed the international against the wall by shoving his M-16 across the activist’s neck. They then managed to remove the memory card of the camera.

Other internationals began photographing as other members of the PSP committee arrived. After the commanding officer insisted on only negotiating with the international coordinator in Arabic, he informed her that the memory card would only be returned if all pictures of soldiers were deleted. Since apparently the soldiers had not noticed the other activists continuing to take pictures, the internationals agreed to delete the pictures of the soldiers taken a few moments before, knowing others were still being taken. After ensuring that all of the pictures taken of the jeeps earlier had been deleted, the commanding officer told the internationals that if he saw them taking pictures again, he would break their cameras, take them to jail, and “make a big problem for them”.