Settler Shoots 2 Students Outside Arroub Refugee Camp

3 June 2010

This morning at 10am a settler driving north on route 60 stopped his car outside the Agricultural School and University of Arroub and in front of the Arroub Refugee camp, just north of Beit Ommar. He stopped, got out of his car, and fired several live bullets into the air, prompting students on one side of the street to begin shouting at him and others across the street to throw stones at the car. He then turned and shot two students standing in front of the entrance to the school. Ibrahim Ahmed Al-Bis, 19, was shot in the stomach and back, Mu’atez Mousa Benat, 17, was shot in the thigh.

There are two permanent Israeli military posts in the immediate area, one tower next to the entrance of the refugee camp and one tower just less than 25 yards from where the shooting took place. Still, the settler fled the scene and the two teens were transported by private car to a hospital in Hebron where at least one is reportedly in critical condition.

International solidarity activists and the media coordinator of the Palestine Solidarity Project arrived to take testimonies from witnesses. When they were photographing the car that had transported the two injured, Israeli soldiers who had gathered near the entrance to the refugee camp began insisting that they leave, first by pushing them to cross the highway towards the entrance of the university. Rather than attempting to apprehend the gun-wielding settler, the civilian police then grabbed one of the international activists, handcuffed him, and put him in a police van. The police asked him what he was doing here, to which he replied that he would not give any information until he knew why he was arrested.

He was then released and the remaining activists were allowed to continue gathering information, though there was no sign that the soldiers or civilian police had any interest in investigating the brutal assault on unarmed civilians.

These assaults come in the midst of rising tension around Israel and right-wing demonstrations, including settlers in the Arroub Refugee Camp area, supporting the Israeli forces in their assault on the Gaza aid flotilla. Two days ago settlers from Gush Etzion held a small demonstration, accompanied by a large police and military presence, just north of Arroub on Route 60 holding flags representing the Israeli military and harassing passing Palestinian vehicles. It is clear that if Israel will not be held accountable for the deaths of at least 9 international activists, the likelihood that an Israeli citizen who has maimed 2 Palestinian youth would be held to account is nil.