Thursday, January 7, 2010

Israeli army attacks Palestinian shepherds and representatives of US Campaign member group

From US Campaign member group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT):
"This morning, Thursday 7 January, 2010, Israeli soldiers attacked and injured Palestinian shepherds from the Musa Raba’i family, as they grazed their sheep in Humra valley, near the village of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. The soldiers also attacked the two CPTers accompanying the shepherds and broke a video camera. Before leaving the area the soldiers arrested one of the shepherds, Musab Musa Raba’i.
At around 10:30am Palestinian shepherds were grazing their sheep on privately owned Palestinian land when they saw Israeli settlers observing them from the outpost of Havat Ma’on. A short time later an Israeli army jeep came to the area. After stopping to speak with one of the settlers, three Israeli soldiers approached the shepherds and ordered them to leave the area. The shepherds explained that it was their land, but agreed to move further down into the valley. The soldiers followed them and grabbed at one of the shepherds, so they all tried to quickly leave the area with their sheep. A second army jeep came to the area and a further three soldiers joined in the attack escalating the violence. Soldiers hit the shepherds with their rifle butts, pushed them and while some soldiers forcibly held them to the ground others kicked them.
Other members of the family came to the area, and the women tried to intervene, hoping to deescalate the situation. However, the women were also forcefully pushed to the ground. CPTers trying to video tape the violent attack were roughly pushed and a soldier grabbed at and broke one of the video cameras.
Other villagers came to the area and tried to calm the situation by talking with the soldiers, but the soldiers ignored all pleas for calm and instead fired percussion grenades and tear gas into the small group of women and children gathered nearby on the hillside.
Israeli police reported to the scene after receiving numerous calls from internationals, but arrived as the soldiers were leaving the area. The police told CPTers that there would be a military investigation into the actions of the soldiers.
During the incident a spokeperson from an Israeli Human Right Organization called the local Israeli Army Brigade Operations Room and the Israeli Army Coordination Office to find out what was happening. She told CPT “I called several time and they had no information and no idea that something was going on in At Tuwani.”
Additional information: At the time of writing Musab Musa Raba’i is still detained at Kiryat Arba police station. One elderly woman, Umm Juma’ Raba’i, and a young woman, Umm Ribhi Raba’i, who is 2 months pregnant, had to be taken to hospital, suffering from the effects of tear gas inhalation. Three of the shepherds, Kamaal Raba’i, Majde Raba’i and Juma’ Raba’i were hospitalized for their injuries, and a young boy, Ramze Jamaal Raba’i, had his tooth broken."
UPDATE: Musab Musa Raba'i was released after being beaten badly and not charged with any crime. More details soon.
1) This attack on At-Tuwani appears to be part of a recent increase in repression of Palestinian grassroots nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation and apartheid. Click here to read more about some of the Palestinian grassroots leaders who have been targeted by this campaign. You can also click here to send an email to the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem demanding the release of Palestinians who are imprisoned for their dissent. You can edit the letter to include information about the attack on At-Tuwani and to ask Daniel Rubinstein, the U.S. Consul General in East Jerusalem, to demand that those involved in this crime be brought to justice. Click here to send an email.
2) U.S. tax dollars aid and abet the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli army, including this most recent attack on At-Tuwani. Organize to oppose U.S. military aid to Israel in your Congressional district by clicking here.
3) Motorola produces communications and surveillance equipment for the Israeli military as well as for settlements like the ones that are encroaching on At-Tuwani's land. Sign a boycott pledge and order a Motorola organizing kit.
4) Check out this video from CPT documenting yet another aspect of Israeli apartheid--electrical pylons for At-Tuwani being taken away by the Israeli military while nearby Israeli settlements enjoy electricity--and then learn more about standing up to Israeli apartheid by clicking here.