On Thursday, 6 August 2009, three MPTers were called shortly before midnight because the Israeli military had entered Kifl Haris, a village near the illegal Israeli settlement Ari’el. A family from Kifl Haris requested MPT be present Thursday night because they feared settlers would enter the village and cause violence.
MPT arrived at 12:40am where they were met by Israeli soldiers who questioned MPT’s presence in the village and warned the team that they should be off the streets before 1:00am because settlers were coming to the village to pray. Kifl Haris is the site of three ancient tombs to which religious pilgrimages are periodically made. MPT was informed that Jewish pilgrims come to pray at these specific tombs three to four times a year, sometimes bringing as many as 4,000 pilgrims into the village during the night. The last few times violence has broken out when settlers have come to pray. More specifically, settlers have thrown rocks at Palestinians, burned their cars, and one time shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian girl. The family explained to MPT how they live in constant fear of violence from the settlers.
Approximately 200 religious Jews entered the village around 1:30am, making their way through the streets toward the tombs. Dozens of soldiers positioned themselves along the route of the pilgrimage and drove throughout the village. The pilgrims finished by 4:00am and the soldiers left the village around 5:00am.
No injuries or arrests occurred to MPT’s knowledge.