Wednesday, September 9 2009 Settlers violence in Susya

This morning, Ta’ayush activists escorting Palestinian farmers in Khirbet Safa received a message about settlers concentrated in the area of Susya because of the expected evacuation today of the illegal outpost Givat HaDegel nearby. Due to the concern about acts of revenge by settlers toward local Palestinians, two Ta’ayush activists went to the area. One the way, it became evident that our worry was justified. A group of 12 settlers had come to the tents of the Harani and Nawajeh families. The settlers threw rocks, hit men and women, and smashed a solar panel (one of their main sources of electricity). Also, they broke the video camera of a Palestinian activist. Four soldiers arrived shortly after the attack started, but didn’t succeed – or perhaps didn’t particularly try – to stop it. Only the arrival of additional forces caused the settlers to leave the area. Of course, not one of the settlers was detained or arrested. When we arrived, the attack was over, and all we were able to do was calm the families, sign a report, lodge a complaint with the police, switch video cameras, and organize activists to stay at least through the night. But it was this that the soldiers were in a rush to prevent. The soldiers that were unable to interfere with the settler attack on Palestinians told us it was a Closed Military Zone, and that we had to leave the area. When we refused, one of the activists was arrested for ‘insulting a public servant’! He was released after a short interrogation by the Hebron police, and then he returned to Susya.

At the moment, everything is quiet there, and for the time being some international activists and Israelis are staying in Susya. The Palestinians lodged a complaint with the police, but unfortunately, the soldiers who were there reported to the police that there had been no attack. Apparently, not only are all the Palestinians and international activists who were with them liars, but the soldiers were also able to ignore the damage, destruction of property, and broken video camera.