Saturday, January 23 2010 Escorting shepherds and settler violence at Hill 18

In the morning we left to escort shepherds in South Mount Hebron.  One group escorted shepherds from Mufkarah to graze near Avigail (a settler outpost).  The escort passed without any special incident,  apart from an army patrol that issued several warnings and then left the area.

A second group escorted shepherds from Tuba and Metala in the area of Um-Zeituna next to the settlement of Maoz.

Soldiers – called to the area by our “old friend” Gedalia – tried to detain several shepherds.  But thanks to interference by one of the activists, the shepherd’s confiscated ID’s were returned, and everyone went home peacefully

Following a request to document an occurrence at the illegal outpost at Al-Buweira (Hill 18) we decided to swing by on our way back towards Jerusalem.  We wanted to photograph the new structures there and to show the outpost to those who came with us for the first time.  Immediately after we ascended the hill, settlers there began to curse and threaten us.  After a few moments, three settlers with masked faces appeared, cursing that they would like to pelt us with stones.  Rocks were then thrown at us from close range, and it was only due to luck that there were no serious injuries, or even worse.

However, during the event, two activists were struck on the head by rocks.  One of the two was evacuated to receive medical treatment at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.  Police were called to the scene, but when their van arrived, they did not make a serious effort to detain the rock throwers or those who witnessed the serious attack and had done nothing to stop it.  The army officer who arrived chose to embrace and joke around with the settlers, while cursing at the leftist activists.   A Closed Military Zone order was presented to us, and we were evicted from the area under threat of arrest if we delayed.  The settlers however, did not leave, and the soldiers did not try to prevent the arrival of even more settlers.  The military order forbids “any person” from remaining in the area.  This was not enforced, of course, on the many settlers celebrating their success in having injured two human rights activists.