26 Activists Detained, Scores Beaten as Soldiers Prevent Farmers From Accessing Their Land in Saffa
June 27, 2009–As has been done since the beginning of April when the Israeli military began actively preventing members of the Soleiby family of Beit Ommar from accessing their agricultural land near Bat ‘Ayn settlement with a series of “Closed military zone” orders, Israeli and international activists joined the family in an attempt to pick fruit on their land. This week, however, the military went to extreme measures to prevent the activists and farmers from getting anywhere near their land.
In the last four weeks, 13 Israelis and 3 Internationals have been arrested while accompanying the farmers to their land, though settlers who have attacked the farmers and activists, throwing stones at them, have been allowed to enter and leave the area without any intervention by the military or police. This week 35 Israelis and 10 Internationals went along with scores of women and men from three extended families towards their land. Just past the houses, however, nearly 20 Israeli soldiers confronted the group, insisting that if the Palestinians had their ID’s they would have been allowed to work if there were no Israeli or Internationals present. This was grounds, therefore, for them to viciously attack the group. For over an hour, the soldiers, soon supported by dozens of border police and observed from high-ranking military officials, beat and arrested 14 Israeli and 2 international activists.
Soldiers seriously injured a reuters photographer, an Israeli activist was taken to a hospital and treated for a potential broken hand that was injured from a soldier twisting it behind her back. An Palestinian coordinator from PSP was also severely injured in the leg. Even with Palestinian medics present to evacuate him, soldiers first attempted to arrest him, placing him in the back of a military jeep. Eventually, they were convinced to turn him over to the ambulance, when he was taken to a hospital in Hebron.
The group was then pushed back into the village, and when remaining Israeli activists, in their rented vans, attempted to leave the village, the ID’s of the drivers were taken and the entire group, 10 additional people, were also arrested. One group of Israelis were attacked by the border police on the way to the police station, beaten with batons while handcuffed in the back of a jeep.
After being taken to the police station in Gush Etzion, only 1 of the 26 detainees was interrogated, and after a few hours the entire group was released without charge, but with a fair amount of bruises.