Only in a Police State do the Police Arrest The Victims of the attacks of Thugs
|Settlers arrive at the Azzeh family land|
|Settler claiming his 'birthright'|
Though each area of Palestine can be said to be unique, Tel Rumeida is truly a world unto itself. Located in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron, Tel Rumeida is a small neighborhood living out the brutal extravagance of direct Israeli occupation. If Tel Rumeida is viewed as a microcosm of the Israeli plan for Palestine, the sometimes subtle realities of Palestinian life under occupation and the type of Palestinian state Israel desires can be more easily comprehended.
|The illegal settlement blocks in Tel Rumeida with Hasham’s olive trees in the foreground|
|Soldiers place an Italian activist in a head-lock|
|Soldiers twist Imad Al Atrash’s arms behind his back to tie with zip-ties|
|Settlers look on as the Palestinians attacked are arrested|
Israeli settlers rule Tel Rumeida. Young settler boys saunter through the Tel Rumeida streets stoning or attacking homes and Palestinian residents at will under the indifferent eyes of Israeli soldiers and police. Damaged and destroyed Palestinian homes, gardens, water pipes, phone lines, and windows live as a testament to the wrath of the settlers’ former deeds. The absolute impunity with which these settlers operate, combined with their overt camaraderie with the Israeli soldiers and policemen, are nothing less than a palpable message to the Palestinian residents of the neighborhood that their safety is not an Israeli concern.
Nearly every Palestinian resident of Tel Rumeida has a disturbingly devastating story, such as that of a young pregnant mother who has had two miscarriages in as many years as a direct result of Israeli violence. Last year, she was two months pregnant and, after Israeli soldiers came inside her home and fired their weapons, was found lying on the floor of her home, bleeding, and later lost her child. This year, only a month ago, pregnant with twins and home alone, her house was attacked by seven armed settlers screaming death threats. Soldiers stationed less than 30 meters from her home did not respond to her calls for help during the 20 minute attack. Two hours later, lying again on the floor of her home, she lost her first twin. Later in a hospital operation, she lost the second. Since the death of her twins, she has suffered from nervous attacks and has been repeatedly hospitalized for collapsing.
The children of Tel Rumeida, though they are many, almost never play outside. Those who do venture out run off the streets at the first sound of an approaching settler vehicle and run into their homes when groups of settlers walk by. Even the youngest child of Tel Rumeida has learned indelible lessons about the type of people their Israeli settler neighbors are and their own place in the neighborhood, acting out these lessons on a daily basis.
Tel Rumeida is one of the few areas in Palestine living under direct Israeli occupation. The outcome of this occupation is a brutalized Palestinian community, economically devastated and imprisoned, living under the endless violence of their Israeli neighbors. Tel Rumeida is the Israeli occupation writ large.
By Vicky Blackwell and Elyana Belle
Photographs by Vicky Blackwell,
22 October 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
UPDATE: 10.30pm – All 3 men have now been released without charge.
Today, a group of settlers from the illegal settlement in Tel Rumeida arrived at Hashem Azzeh’s olive grove next to his house at around 12.30pm, whilst he and his family were harvesting their olives, yelling for everyone to get off of “their” land.
Hashem and his family were on their land harvesting olives for the first time in 5 years after being granted permission from the District Civil Liaison. He was accompanied by several members of his family as well as activists from the International Solidarity Movement. The situation quickly escalated as settlers pushed the Palestinians in order to try and enter Hashem’s house.
Within ten minutes the soldiers arrived and began to separate the Palestinian family and internationals and siding with the Israeli settlers. Arguments continued with both sides yelling “this is my land,” regardless of the fact that Hashem has the deeds to the land. The settlers were also heard shouting “This is not your land, this is the land of the Jewish people.”
At this point around ten more settlers had come down and joined in, shouting abuse at Hashem and his family. The soldiers pushed the Palestinians and internationals back towards Hashem’s house threatening to arrest anyone who did not obey. The soldiers grabbed a young Palestinian man by the name of Imad Al Atrash who was video taping standing behind international activists: pushed him against the wall and zip-tied his arms behind his back.
Then they went after an International activist trying to arrest him for taking video footage. While trying to escape they grabbed another of the International activists standing by, put him in a headlock on the ground and arrested him. Jawad Abu Eisheh who had arrived in solidarity with his neighbors was also captured and arrested (this comes only 9 days after Jawad and his family were also attacked by settlers whilst harvesting their olives nearby, see:
|Imad Al Atrash being arrested by Israeli soldiers for being attacked|
The district of Tel Rumeida is heavily militarized and contains the homes of both Israeli settlers and Palestinians. Hasham’s family moved to Tel Rumeida in 1950 after being forcibly removed from their homes in what is now Israel. The Tel Rumeida settlement was installed in 1984.
In an attack in 2006 the settlers smashed Hasham’s nephews’ teeth in with a stone. That same year his wife (3 months pregnant at the time) was attacked and subsequently miscarried. Again in 2006 she was attacked, this time 4 months pregnant, and again, suffered from a miscarriage due to the attack.
The settlers living directly over Hasham’s house have also in the past raided his house, (bullet-holes near his front door show when the settlers shot live ammunition at his house), they cut his water-pipes and poisoned his water tank, cut his trees down in his garden and have physically attacked and assaulted him and his family as well as breaking-into and vandalizing his house on several occasions. Online text with pictures of the destruction of the orchard is available at
|Jawad Abu Eisheh is thrown against the wall by soldiers and detained|
Orchard leveled at Tel Rumeida to make way for settlement expansionOn 5 January 2014, CPTers learned that a bulldozer had begun leveling a large tract of a Palestinian orchard for the expansion of the Tel Rumeida settlement complex on the previous evening. Two CPTers visited with Hani Abu Haikel, long-time CPT partner, on 7 January to learn more details.
According to Abu Haikel, his family has held a 99-year lease, of which twenty-five years are left, on the orchard that was demolished to create the outpost. The Abu Haikels had originally leased the land from the Bajaio family, Palestinian Jews whose family the Abu Haikels sheltered during the Hebron Massacre in 1929. Then they leased the land from the Jordanian government, which occupied the area after 1949, and the Israeli government after 1967. The Israeli government has blocked the lease Abu Haikel’s family holds on this area in order to allow the settlers to continue construction on this new, outpost. Police arrested Abu Haikel and his cousin on 5 January for being in a ‘closed military zone’ when they asked by what right the settlers were destroying their mature almond trees. They then banned the two men from going within 250 meters of the site.
Abu Haikel is nostalgic for past centuries when Palestinian Jews and Muslims lived in more harmonious ways than is possible with the current Israeli settlers living in Hebron. His grandfather’s business partner was Jewish and they would take turns on Friday and Saturday looking after their shop. He remembers that his own family used to light candles on Friday evenings. He continues to maintain contact with descendants of the Bajaio family and has an extensive network of Jewish friends in Israel and abroad.
When one of the CPTers interviewing Abu Haikel said he had noticed some frightened looking construction workers in the van when he was walking up to visit, Abu Haikel told him they were Palestinian. When asked how he felt about their collaboration with the settlement enterprise, Hani Abu Haikel said it was a matter “for their conscience,” and that he would just as soon the work go to a Palestinian worker as someone from Thailand.
As the conversation turned once again to relationships between Christians, Jews and Muslims, Hani noted, “When we look at the Holy Qur’an, the Torah and the Bible, the common thread is about respecting your neighbor, loving God and doing justice.”
“Soldiers come here with fear in their eyes,” he said, “They are told by their commanders that the women carry knives and the men carry guns.” Abu Haikel found this information out when he asked a soldier, “Why are you frightened of me?” Afterwards, they had a three-hour conversation. The soldier was reassigned to another checkpoint the day after and they did not speak again.
Under international law, it is illegal for Israel to move populations into military-occupied territory. The Israeli government therefore does not have the right to terminate the Abu Haikel’s rental agreement, to destroy their trees, or to offer the land to Israeli settlers.
People wishing to follow developments on the Tel Rumeida situation should check out the Save Tel Rumeida Facebook page, run by the families who live there and their supporters, Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine will also continue to post updates on its Facebook page.