On Saturday, an American volunteering with the Tel Rumeida Project in Hebron was attacked by a group of settlers and sustained a mild concussion. The gash in the back of his head, torn open by rocks hurled at him, was stitched up at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. With his resolve to continue working alongside the Palestinian community strengthened, the volunteer returned to Hebron yesterday.
The American has been working for several months in Hebron’s H2 district and says he is well known by the settlers and has been the target of violence and verbal abuse in the past. Members of the Tel Rumeida Project accompany Palestinian children to shield them from settler violence. More recently, project volunteers began offering English classes to Palestinian youth in the community.
In an interview with PNN, the volunteer explained that he believes the Shabbat attack was premeditated. He suggested one of the indicators was that he did nothing to provoke the group of 20 settlers that approached him “obviously looking for a fight”.
He said that during the attack, settler youth continually dared him to hit them. “It’s obvious in hindsight what they were trying to do… They wanted me to hit a kid.” Another Tel Rumeida Project volunteer explained that this type of provocation is a common tactic employed by the settlers to justify having international volunteers prosecuted and deported.
The attack occurred less than one hundred meters from an Israeli Occupation Forces post. The American volunteer believes that the presence of an Israeli woman distracting the soldier on duty is another indicator it was planned. He explained: “During the attack the soldier wasn’t even looking at me. I called for help… He was obviously distracted because the settler woman was screaming at him.” As was reported in Haaretz, the IOF claims they dispersed the settlers and were not called to the scene of the attack.
The volunteer was also asked to comment on the fact that he was unable to identify the perpetrators from Israeli Police mug shots. He explained that all but one of the assailants were children and youth, under 18 years old, and the mug shots provided were of adults. The volunteer said he did not recognize the one adult attacker, believed to be in his thirties. He went on to say: “I kept telling the police that we could go back to (Beit Hadassah) settlement to identify the youth… They refused. They could have, they just didn’t want to.”