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Israeli Army Cooperates with Settlers in Attacks on Palestinians

Dolev Rahat

21awarta_ism.jpg

Israeli soldiers in Awarta village (photo courtesy of ISM)


AIC, March 21, 2011

Following the killing of five settlers in Itamar on 11 March, there has been a substantial increase in violence toward Palestinian residents of the West Bank by the Israeli army and settlers, who act in tandem.

On 12 and 13 March, settlers from Yitzhar entered the Huwara village in the Nablus district and threw stones at homes and cars. The settlers set fire to a car rental office, destroying all of the cars inside.

On the morning following the murders, hundreds of soldiers entered the Awarta village, also in the Nablus district, and imposed a curfew that lasted for five days. The curfew was accompanied by intensive and random searches in village homes and mass detentions. Some 300 residents of Awarta were detained, some of whom were tied and beaten. At least one resident required medical treatment after being beaten until he lost consciousness. Amongst the residents who were beaten were elderly women. Ambulances arriving at the village were detained for several long hours at a checkpoint set up in the entrance.

Military dogs bit village residents, including children. One resident, who is paralysed, was hospitalized following such a bite. The curfew and searches were accompanied by a campaign of vandalism: soldiers broke car windshields, ripped up electric cables, broke furniture, ripped open holes in walls and floors, poured liquids on computers, polluted drinking water of the residents and stole money and jewelry. Some 30 homes were commandeered during the curfew. Soldiers used weapons to threaten activists from the International Solidarity Movement who attempted to document what was occurring.

300 settlers, some of whom wore face masks, entered the village on 12 March, throwing rocks and injuring two residents. Soldiers cooperated with the settlers, assisting them to enter the village and shooting tear gas on the village residents while the settlers were running amuck.

The invasion and vandalism of Awarta, combined with the clear cooperation between soldiers and settlers, signal a campaign of revenge. This assumption is verified by a statement from one of the soldiers to the ISM activists in Awarta: "we need to punish these people so they understand."

The Zaatari family from al Buwara near Hebron was also a target for settler attacks. On Friday 16 March, settlers threw stones at the family home, breaking windows. On Saturday 19 March, some 20 settlers attacked the family in their car. Car windows were broken and four family members were injured. Musbah Zataari, injured in his leg, went to the hospital for treatment.

In At-Tuwani in the southern HebronHills, settlers uprooted six olive trees on the night between 15-16 March. On Saturday 19 March, residents of the village, accompanied by activists from Taĺayush and the Christian Peacemaker Teams, went to the spot to plant new trees and graze their herds. Settlers from the nearby Havat Maon outpost, some of whom wore face masks, came and chased after the herds. Following arrival of the settlers, the army declared the area a closed military zone. Soldiers acted brutally toward the residents and activists, shooting stun grenades and detaining two Palestinians and one international activist. To date the Palestinians are still being held in Ofer prison. An additional Palestinian collapsed and was taken for medical treatment when soldiers attempted to detain and handcuff him while a stun grenade blew up alongside him.

None of the settlers were detained.


:: Article nr. 76082 sent on 22-mar-2011 08:46 ECT

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