Today members of Taayush returned to Hill 26, which as I mentioned in the second half of a previous post, is the site where settlers from Kiryat Arba have illegally built a hut on Palestinian land. We have been monitoring the development of the structure for the last month or so.
The plan was to build a structure of our own nearby, to see if our structure would be treated differently from that of the settlers.
Our contingent of Palestinians, Israeli peace activists and internationals quickly built a small structure. Some settlers tried to interfere with the construction, but mostly they watched and heckled us.
After it was built, soldiers, border police, and more settlers arrived. Some of the newly arrived settlers cursed and yelled at us and shoved members of our group. They provocatively told us that after we were gone, they were going to use the hut we built for themselves. One settler struck a female Taayush member in the head, knocking her to the ground, and threw a punch at another woman in the group.
(Above is Baruch Marzel)
Baruch Marzel, a well-known settler from Hebron, shoved a Taayush member, and tore down the Palestinian flag that had been placed atop the structure.
A young settler threw a flaming stick on top of the structure in an attempt to burn it down.
The military then declared a ‘closed military zone’, and said that everyone – Palestinians, settlers, and Israeli activists – would have to leave. However, despite this announcement the settlers were allowed to stay where they were while we were roughly driven away down the hill. In the process, Taayush members were arrested, some for peacefully resisting, others because they just weren’t leaving quickly enough.
The experience was upsetting for a number of the Israeli activists. Israel’s country and army was acting illegally to protect religious extremists who were breaking the law. While our group was treated roughly and with hostility, the soldiers allowed the settlers to yell invectives at them, and be ordered around by them. Unfortunately the army effectively promotes the politics of the settlers and tries to marginalize and silence those who want the rule of law.
The events were covered by the Israeli media, and Haaretz used a video I took in this article.http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1084184.html