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Assira Qibiliya (South Assira) Part I: Sound bombs, teargas and Settlers Attack

Monday, June 29, 2009--MPT received a call from Zakiraya, MPT’s Palestinian contact person, that settlers from the Yitzhar settlement and its nearby illegal outpost Shalhevet Yitzhar were attacking the village of South Assira. At 7 pm 50 settlers came into the village followed fifteen minutes later by another 100 settlers. Villagers explained that the settlers started a few small fires in the hills of the village while settlers later told news reporters that the villagers started the fire and the settlers came down from their settlement to put out the fires (See http://www.ynetnews.com and http://www.uruknet.info). MPT witnessed the fires but arrived after the settlers had returned to their settlement, therefore MPT was not present at the time the fires were initially started but did see that fires were started on Palestinian land used specifically for the growing of crops.

MPTers talk with Palestinian about the situation in Assira

MPT arrived at the same time as the Israeli Army. A large crowd of villagers had gathered at the top of the hill near one particular house that has been repeatedly targeted by the settlers. The Israeli Army fired several sound bombs and teargas canisters to disperse the crowd, both of which MPT witnessed.

After 15 minutes of continuous firing, the effects of the teargas forced the villagers to take cover behind the targeted house. At that time, the Army descended from the hill approaching the group but continuing to fire, therefore forcing those Palestinians who had moved forward in order to speak to the soldiers to retreat once again. Finally, the soldiers ceased firing on the crowd at which point one of the Palestinians from the village asked MPT members, as internationals, to go to the front of the crowd with their cameras to encourage the soldiers to back away from the house. Two MPTers were able to get to the front where eight soldiers had lined up facing the crowd, with another ten soldiers behind them. Once the soldiers saw internationals with cameras they immediately backed away wherein village leaders were able to talk to the Israeli DCO (District Commanding Officer), the same DCO officer that MPT saw at the vandalized home in Burin. After fifteen minutes of conversation between villagers and the Israeli DCO the crowd began to disperse and the soldiers retreated up the hill. MPT was told that the soldiers, who are not always present at each settlement, would be staying near Yitzhar and Shalhevet Yitzhar for the next two to three days to monitor the situation. The Israeli DCO also spoke to the mother of the targeted house and asked her to call him directly if she experienced any further problems from the settlers.

MPT remained at the house where a family of six people, four of them children under the age of ten, and many other villagers explained how this house and the village have experienced settler harassment for the past few years. The mother of the family had footage of the settlers who had come down earlier in the evening with automatic weapons firing live ammunition.

This picture was taken while the army was firing sound bombs right outside this young girl's home

The family explained that settlers come down every Friday and Saturday to harass the village with increased and surprise attacks during the weekdays over the past three months. The settlers have set a fire on the patio of the previously mentioned house, spray painted the Star of David on the outside walls, and shot at their front window in the middle of the night. Before leaving MPT gave out contact cards so that the family and other villagers could call if they experienced any more harassment. Additionally members of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in nearby Nablus came after the settlers and army left and stayed overnight with the family in case of further attacks.

Burnt Well

Stars of David spray painted on side of home

1 comment:

CopperTheDog said...

Thank you guys for all the good you are doing. You are braver then most soldiers for you fight not with power, but with peace.