Right-Wing Israeli Settlers Rampage Through Hebron, Other West Bank Cities

9 December 2008

On Thursday, December 4, the Israeli police, supported by the Israeli military, carried out the largest evacuation of illegal settlers in Hebron city in recent times. Up to 250 settlers, most bussed in from outside, had reinforced a building in central Hebron which had been taken over 2 years ago, but which the Israeli High Court had ordered evacuated weeks ago. They were dragged out of the so-called “House of Contention”, with approximately 20 arrested.
Settlers then rioted throughout Hebron, attacking Palestinians, setting Palestinian homes, shops and cars on fire, and in one incident caught on tape through the Btselem camera distribution project, shot 40 year-old Hosni Abu Se’ifan in the stomach and his 65 year old father, Abd Al-Hai. Both were treated in a hospital in Hebron.
The entire southern West Bank was declared a closed military zone, though several Israeli and international activists managed to get into Hebron where they stayed with families vulnerable to attack. On Friday, a well-planned, coordinated series of attacks by settlers on Palestinians was recorded throughout the West Bank. Settlers blocked roads and checkpoints in the Nablus, Hebron, and Betlehem Districts, threw stones at Palestinian cars, and continued to set fire to homes and property throughout the city of Hebron.

Early Saturday morning, during the Jewish Sabbath in which religious Jews do not turn on lights, stoves, or even tear toilet paper because of a commandment against work on the holy day of rest, set fire to the E’weiwei family home, next door to PSP’s Women’s Embroidery Cooperative. The 9 residents of the home hid downstairs as settlers gained access via the roof, within 50 meters of an Israeli military outpost, and set fire to the home, gutting the upper floors.

For the past week right-wing Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have rampaged through several villages from north to south, attacking mosques in Nablus, shepherds in South Hebron, farmers in Burin, Assira Al-Qiblya, Beit Iba, Huwarra, Immatin, and, most notoriously, in the city of Hebron, the largest Palestinian city besides Jerusalem. Even before settlers were evacuated from one home in Hebron on Thursday, December 4, settlers across the West Bank had been increasing their attacks on isolated villages and communities, particularly in the Nablus and South Hebron Districts. After multiple attacks on the people of Susiya and ‘Samoa in the South Hebron hills, Palestine Solidarity Project, along with other international and Israeli activists went on multiple solidarity visits, accompanying farmers to their land to plow their fields and shepherds who are under constant threat of attack, and are particularly vulnerable because of their isolation. On one occasion, settlers approached the farmers and PSP activists, but were kept at bay by the presence of multiple photographers and videographers, and the presence of the Israeli military.

Throughout the rampage, Israeli soldiers, who have several permanent military posts in Hebron and were out en force over the weekend, refused to step in and protect Palestinians or their homes. In one case, they even attacked an activestills and Haaretz photographer as she attempted to document the abuse, smashing her in the face with a rifle butt. She was treated in a hospital and later released.

though violent attacks decreased in the last two days, the entire West Bank is still on high alert, with Palestinians and justice activists waiting for the next blow.