On Thursday January 12th, two members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) were attacked by a group of 30 Israeli settler ‘girls’ while walking near the Tel Rumeida settlement in Hebron’s H2 area, which is under tight Israeli control.
The ISM members were walking between the Bet Hadassa and Tel Rumeida settlements when the group of girls, ten of whom were wearing masks, rushed them and local Palestinian residents standing nearby. One of the ISM members described the scene to a Palestine News Netwrok (PNN) reporter:
“I was walking up the hill and heard a scuffle ahead. I saw the girls throwing stones at Palestinian homes, and we began videotaping them. There were maybe six girls who came at me and were grabbing me and hitting me and trying to block my camera.”
One of the girls was able to grab the battery from the video camera and stood in front of the volunteers with her hand outstretched, mocking the ISM volunteer. Despite pleas to the IDF forces standing nearby, the mob ran away to continue their harassment of local residents.
With four Israeli settlements in the downtown core, the conflict between settlers and local Palestinian residents in Hebron is unique. Located 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem, Hebron is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited towns in the world and is home to the sacred Ibrahimi Mosque.
In an interview with PNN, Jerry Levin, a Christian Peacemaker Team volunteer stationed in Hebron, explained that since the late 1960’s, Hebron’s Palestinian population has been under siege by Israeli settlers who have established settlements in and around the Old City.
In order for 450 settlers to occupy land in the Avraham Avinu, Beit Hadassa, Beit Romano, and Tel Rumeida camps, Israeli forces have had to severely suppress, and control, the local Palestinian population, which is estimated to number over 150 000 in the city’s core.
Levin, a former CNN reporter and author of West Bank Diary: Middle East Violence as Reported by a Former American Hostage, explained that Israeli settler adults often have their children perform the ‘dirty work’ of attacking Palestinians and international peacekeepers because the young children cannot be arrested or detained.