On Wednesday night, October 7th 2015, a large group of settlers harassed, insulted and physically assaulted Palestinian residents and internationals in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), injuring several people.Around 08:00 pm, more than 50 settlers from the illegal settlements within the town, most of them children and teenagers, accompanied by a few adults, marched around the Palestinian neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida, chanting insults and hate-speech, calling for the death of Arabs. The group was not only chanting racist abuse, but also demonstrated a high level of violence and aggression towards the Palestinian residents of the neighbourhood.
After marching through the streets loudly chanting, they attacked Palestinians right outside a shop, running towards them and beating them, and hurling rocks at Palestinian youth and internationals documenting these violent assaults. Instead of intervening, Israeli forces watched these attacks happen at first just to point their loaded guns at Palestinians that just a few seconds before were standing in a hail of stones, threatening to shoot.
Two persons were injured with stones thrown by the settlers, a Palestinian youth in his hand and an international in his chest. In the meantime, the settlers openly picked up more stones and rocks from the ground, attacking families that opened their main gates to find out what the shouting was about. Again, instead of preventing or stopping attacks by the settlers, the army violently pushed Palestinians to move back into their homes, yelling at them. All complaints made by Palestinians against the attacks by the settlers were ignored by the soldiers. In addition, the Israeli soldiers themselves violently attacked several Palestinians and beat them.
Many families rushed into their homes upon hearing the yelling, locked their doors and then had to watch the settlers chanting abuse at them from behind their windows – protected only by the metal grids installed in the past due to frequent settler attacks.
When the march proceeded down the hill towards Shuhada checkpoint, where over two weeks ago the Israeli army gunned down and killed the Palestinian student Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, more than two dozen activists from Youth Against Settlement arrived to document the racist abuse and attacks against Palestinians. Israeli forces that by then finally arrived, immediately stopped the Palestinians and isolated them in an alley, preventing them from going anywhere.
The group of settlers, on the other hand, was allowed to keep on chanting racist abuse. They also burned Palestinian flags, cheering and clapping. Israeli soldiers were getting their guns ready, facing the Palestinians that were clearly upset when their flags were being burned, but did not do anything to stop the flag-burning.
In order to allow for the greatest possible space for the settlers to move around and keep on chanting, Israeli forces pushed back the Palestinians, with one soldier threatening an international that he would ‘break his face’ if he didn’t move right away. Settler children and women also attempted to break cameras of internationals, blocking them from documenting the events and spit at them.
Infamous, aggressive settler Anat Cohen repeatedly attacked an international observer while she was standing right in front of a police car with two policemen inside. The Israeli police watched the whole incident while sitting in their car, and did nothing to intervene.
When the international observer was ordered by soldiers to move towards the Palestinians detained on the other side of the road, Anat Cohen pushed her as she was passing in front of the police car, and her daughter kicked the international observer in the stomach. Soldiers still did not intervene and refused to take a complaint about this attack, forcing the victim and another international to leave.
According to the International Solidarity Movement, ‘This incident again illustrates the power settlers hold over the Israeli army. Even when attacking Palestinians – or internationals that enjoy a greater protection than any Palestinian – settlers enjoy the protection of the Israeli army.’