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The Jerusalem police violently attacked a peaceful demonstration against violence in the city’s centre; A police force commanded by Chief Superintendent Ronen Hazut violently dispersed the weekly protest vigil at Sheikh Harrah, later blocking entrance to the neighborhood to non-resident Palestinians, while Jewish settlers and right-wingers enter freely; Settlers attacked activists in the South Hebron Hills, smashed their car, robbed them and wounded one of them – the police detained the activists, who were distanced from the area by edict; Soldiers and settlers entered Tawane shooting live fire, stun and teargas grenades – the occupation forces prevented medical teams from entering in order to evacuate the wounded – the next day, soldiers were documented firing live fire and stun grenades for fun over Tawane village.
While Israel and Gazan Palestinian organizations are waging a war that costs the lives of civilians, many of them children, and sowing huge destruction and ruin inside the Gaza Strip, violent gangs of Jewish and Arab thugs impact civilians inside the State of Israel as well as in the Occupied Territories. According to UN data for the period between Monday May 10 and Sunday May 16, the number of casualties in Gaza is 174, 47 of them children. Over 1000 are reported wounded. Inside Israel 10 people were killed, of them 2 children, and in the Occupied Territories 17 Palestinians were killed, of them 2 children, in confrontations with the occupation forces. The Israeli police is slack in the prevention of violence exerted by groups of right-wing Jews against Arabs. Until Sunday, May 15, the State Attorney’s Office has indicted 116 people suspected of violence throughout the country – all of them Arabs.
Ever since Thursday, throughout the country demonstrations are held calling for a halt of the violence cycle, most of them unhampered. However, on Saturday night, May 15, Jerusalem police prevented such a demonstration from taking place in West Jerusalem, claiming it would not be able to protect demonstrators from rightist gang violence, and therefore dispersed the event and detained some of the protestors. The demonstrators did not give up and continued their protest.
In Shikh Jarrah the police continue to block entry into the streets of homes facing forced expulsion and handover to the settler-colonists. While settler-colonists and right-wing activists are allowed to enter freely, entry is allowed Palestinians only if they live there. All week there were violent confrontations between Palestinian protestors and the police and settler-colonist gangs. In several cases the latter opened live fire. Activists stayed with the neighborhood inhabitants most days and nights of the week. On Friday the police once again violently dispersed the weekly demonstration protesting the expulsion, using stun grenades, horsemen and the “skunk” truck. Following the rest of the Government Legal Adviser, the Supreme Court decided to postpone its ruling on the right of Sheikh Jarrah residents to appeal the ruling to expel them from their homes and hand them over to settler-colonists. On Saturday, the US Ambassador to the UN called to put an end to the cycle of violence, and also referred to home evictions in East Jerusalem: “We call upon all sides to refrain from incitement, violent acts of terrorism, as well as evictions – including East Jerusalem”.
The weekly protest in Sheikh Jarrah takes place every Friday. We will meet at the Sheikh Jarrah Garden, Nablus Road and Dahlmann St. at 4 p.m
South Hebron Hills
The settler-colonists of the South Hebron Hills have raised the violence threshold further, helped by army and police who do their bidding. On Thursday settler-colonists attacked activists accompanying shepherds near Mughayer Al Abeed with blubs and stones, robbed them of cameras and phones, and smashed their car. One of the activists was hurt in the head and taken to hospital. As soon as the attack began the activists summoned the police. Policemen arrived hours later, and demanded of the attacked activist to come to the police station, where he was questioned under warning as a suspect. The activist who drove him there was questioned as well, although he was not present at the attack. They were both distanced from the area for a fortnight. As far as we know, none of the assailant settler-colonists was distanced from the area.
The same morning, following stone-throwing on the road, settler-colonists entered Tawane village while firing live ammunition, ‘rubber’-coated steel bullets and teargas. Several villagers were hurt. Throughout the incident, army and police prevented medical teams from entering the village, and evacuating the wounded began only an hour and a half, after the occupation forces left. In the afternoon, settler-colonist fire was reported again in thearea. At the same time, settler-colonists from the ‘Abigail’ outpost blocked the access track to Mufaqara with rocks.
On Friday afternoon, activists documented a group of soldiers who sat down on a hill above the village of Tawane, fired live ammunition in the air, threw stun grenades and cursed for pure fun, without any kind of provocation. Following documentation of the event to the media, the army spokesperson announced that the soldiers had gotten out of line and would be suspended form combat duty in the designated area.
On Saturday, as every week, activists accompanied family members of landowners at Umm Al Arais to their lands, but were ‘greeted’ there by settler-colonists who summoned the occupation forces and instructed them not to allow the landowner to access his land. The officer commanding the force tried to do this with an unsigned ‘closed military zone’ order and even detained the landowner by force of that invalid order, but had to release him when policemen arrived at the scene. During the incident, another settler-colonist came down from ‘Mitzpe Yair’ outpost, approached one of the activists who stood there, and attacked him in the presence of the soldiers. They stood there and did nothing. When the commander was questioned about his inaction, he said he “had acted upon his own judgment”. That same day soldiers entered Saroura, searched it with no legal warrant, and checked the identity of activists on site.
Still on Saturday, under the open eyes of the occupation soldiers, a group of settler-colonists from ‘Havat Maon’ outpost went swimming in a private water hole belonging to the villagers of Tawane in the Harouba ravine near the village.
On that day activists accompanied Palestinian farmers from Qawawis who were harvesting their fields around ‘Mitzpe Yair’ outpost, and the harvest went unhampered.
On Saturday night, entrance to the Mufaqara access road was blocked by large concrete blocks. To date, it is unknown whether by settler-colonists, or the army that does their bidding.
Palestinian Jordan Valley and West Bank Hill Range
Most days this last week activists were present in the area of Tayibe Junction on the West Bank Hill Range, where settler-colonists continue to enter their flocks intentionally into Palestinian owned and tended fields. In nearby areas the police have begun to hear the summons of the local landowners and activists and its presence on the ground does make the settler-colonists remove their flocks. Not so in the areas near Deir Jarayer, where the settler-colonists began taking flocks into fenced olive groves and vineyards as well, and enable them to destroy the trees. The flocks are accompanied by settler-colonists wielding clubs, some of them masked, and they do not hesitate staying there even as they are documented during a performance of such violations. In this area the police refuse to act claiming it’s too close to Palestinian villages so it cannot arrive without army escort, that is of course never sent there.
In the Palestinian Jordan Valley, on Tuesday, activists accompanied shepherds in Hamra in the north, and on Tuesday and Wednesday in Auja in the south. On all of these occasions, grazing went unhampered.
On Saturday it was reported that a large olive tree grove around Brukin (Salfit district) went up in flames