UPDATE : Palestinians, Israelis beaten and detained for attempting to access Palestinian-owned land in South Hebron Hills
Like all Saturdays, for almost one year already, Palestinian landowners in the South Hebron Hills are claiming their right to return to their land, on which Israeli settlers from Mitzpe Yair have built greenhouses
On November 23 at around 8.30 am, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists organized an action to access Palestinian-owned land in Umm Al Arayes, located adjacent to the Mitzpe Yair outpost. When several people arrived to the area for the action, Israeli soldiers immediately approached them, showing a military order that extended the permanent closed military zone (usually limited to a valley between a Palestinian village and the Mitpe Yair outpost) to the entire Mitzpe Yair area, including the Palestinian-owned land..
Despite the closed military zone order, Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli activists from Ta’ayush, an Arab and Jewish grassroots nonviolent movement, decided to enter their land, but were stopped by a group of settlers who began beating them.The settlers also attacked the Israeli activists, kicking, breaking and stealing their cameras. The soldiers, arriving to the area running and attempted to push everyone away – except for the settlers. After beating the Palestinians, the Israeli soldiers violently detained 15 of them in addition to two Israeli activists, forcing them to sit on the ground. Ta’ayush said that Israeli forces threatened death to those who tried to stand up, while the soldiers further discouraged videotaping the incident. Men and women were separated to prevent communication. Several of the detained people were beaten. After several minutes all the persons detained were released, except for five Palestinians (including the landowner and two girls aged 22 and 13) and two Ta’ayush activists, who were taken to the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba.
They were charged with assaulting and beating the soldiers, entering in a closed military area, in addition to interfering with police work.
For the landowner this was the second time in November that he was arrested while attempting to access his own land.
(Israeli forces threathed to death who tried to stand up and soldiers dissuaded to tape also. They separated boys from girls to prevent the communication. Some people under detention were beaten).
Police demanded a 1000 shekel bond for each person to be released.
During the entire event, no action was taken against the settlers by the Israeli soldiers or police officers.
In previous weeks, like on Saturday, the Israeli army declaration of lands as closed military zone has impeded the Palestinians from accessing their land and this right. Since 2001 the Palestinians in the area have faced restricted access to these lands.
Video of the incident: http://youtu.be/4VPjd1AQEg8
Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.
[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]