Saturday, June 20 2009 Accompanying farmers in Khirbet Safa

We arrived in Safa a bit after 7 am and were informed that many settlers were waiting for our arrival in the valley. Indeed, as we descended towards the plots of the farmers we saw about 10 settler youths on the opposite hill, most with their faces covered. They began throwing large stones, some with slingshots. An army jeep stood further away up the hill and didn’t intervene. We informed the army about the situation and descended in a small group into the valley to begin working, rocks landing all around us. Army forces began arriving and stood next to the stone-throwing settlers. We demanded that the army and police arrest, or at least detain and identify the settlers who attacked us, but they declined to do this and only commanded us to leave the area.

We pointed out that their refusal to detain the stone-throwers was in essence giving up on the proper interrogation process, as the stone-throwers’ faces were covered and failure to identify them immediately would prevent any later opportunity to connect these individuals with the crime. This point didn’t arouse much discussion among the soldiers, and only when some of the settlers began throwing stones while standing next to the army jeep did they tell them to ascend back towards the settlement, on threat of detention by the police. Of course, not a single one of them was detained despite the fact that they did not return to the settlement. We, however, were commanded to leave the area because of a ‘closed military zone’ order. We refused to leave unless some attempt was made to detain and identify the violent settlers, who were still in the area, unfettered. Six activists were arrested immediately, and another activist was arrested later, during the forceful evacuation of the rest of the activists from the area.

Settlers Attacking Farmers with Stones in Khirbet Safa

When arrested, we informed the brigade commander and the vice division commander , who arrived at the scene, that we were happy to be arrested so that we could meet them in court and they could explain their behavior during the events. Maybe this was the reason that, to our surprise, instead of being taken to the police station and interrogated, we were taken to the Minharot checkpoint next to Beit Jala, where our identity cards were returned to us and we were released without a hearing of any sort. In any case, the army spokesperson again released the lying statement about confrontation and mutual stone-throwing between settlers and activists, obedience of the settlers to the order and the arrest of activists who refused to evacuate. The video of the event shows that this is absolutely a fictive description, but that is no more than a minor, annoying detail.