Report from Hebron, 28 April 06
Four of us from the Hebron team went down to the village of At Tuwani last Saturday to join the villagers, Israelis from the Peace group Ta’ayush,and other internationals as well as ourselves in protesting the ‘inner wall’ being built all along the settler bypass road there. It is only 80cm high, but is a very effective barrier stopping all vehicles and animals from the villages in the South Hebron hills from crossing to get to the market town of Yatta. For more information about the ‘inner wall’, see the Urgent Action Alert: Tell Israeli government to halt construction of new wall in South Hebron Hills.
We have had a team in At Tuwani for over 18 months now (as well as the team here in the Old City) so know the situation and all the villagers well.
There was a large military and police presence at this peaceful demonstration, which had planned simply to walk along the side of the road to the place a few kilometres away where the bulldozers were already working. There were about 6 Israeli Army and border police vehicles and 6 more police vehicles – jeeps, an armoured personnel carrier and other armoured vehicles. Of course all army and police were heavily armed as usual. About 150 protesters, led by the villagers, had gathered near the road, and spread out along the sides, so that they were not obstructing traffic.
The army and police stopped them from walking along the road, and completely unprovoked, arrested 3 Israeli protesters. Then it turned nasty, as they seized one of the villagers, Hussein (not his real name) – the one who translates for us when necessary, and who works most closely with us. They accused him of hitting them with a stick, but no-one saw him with a stick at all – CPTers Diane and Maureen were very close to him - and it would be completely out of character for him in any case. There were many media present, and we were photographing and videotaping too so it was all recorded. The police attacked him viciously and forced him eventually into a police car, bleeding slightly from the head, together with two other members of his family. Diane and Maureen tried to intervene and were themselves pushed over. His mother, aged 75, protested vigorously too, and was pushed over and kicked in the stomach. He has been in jail for a week now, and is to appear in court for a second time next week.