The village of Izbat at Tabib is located in Area C of the West Bank in the Qalqilya district. Recently, there has been an order to begin the construction of a fence alongside the highway that borders the village that would cut the people who live there off from 40 dunams of their farmland.
Construction was due to begin on Sunday so my teammate and I, along with other internationals, traveled to Izbat at Tabib on Friday at the request of the villagers to stay with them and be a peaceful presence.
Moussa, who has lived there all his life, welcomed MPT into his home and have us a tour as he told us about the situation there.
Currently 32 of the 45 homes in Izbat at Tabib have demolition
orders which can be executed at any time. In addition to these current orders, one home has already been demolished in the past two years. Moussa pointed out these homes to us as we walked, including his own, which he has been trying to build for the past five years. He also showed us his grandfather’s house, the oldest in the village, which was built in 1920. Already, 45% of their land has been stolen from them.
People gathered on Saturday afternoon to erect a tent outside the entrance of the near the farm land that was being threatened. The Mayor of Izbat at Tabib and others asked the internationals to stay the night in the tent as it was expected the army would come by, if not that night, then possibly early in the morning.
The village had taken their case against the construction to an Israeli court but had yet to hear the verdict so it was unknown whether it would begin on Sunday as previously planned or not.
Saturday night as we sat around drinking tea in the tent, military jeeps drove by a few times.
Around 8:00pm two jeeps stopped and the soldiers got out. The commanding officer instructed the soldiers not to speak with us as he questioned our reason for being there. After telling him we were enjoying tea and talking with friends and didn’t know when we would be leaving, they got in their jeeps and drove off. An hour or so later two more military keeps drove in and turned into the main street of the village, making their way through before leaving again. The rest of the night passed without incident.
The next day, Sunday, more military showed up and this time stopped to take photographs of the tent and homes in the village. When I asked the Mayor what they were doing, he said it was an intimidation tactic. They were taking photographs of all the homes and structures they were going to demolish.
It was around noon that a few military jeeps and a bulldozer arrived and parked at the head of the roads that leads to the entrance of the village, down the street from where the tent was set up. After discussing, it was decided the most important thing would be to stay near the army jeeps and the bulldozer and only have one or two internationals back at the tent. We stood there for at least an hour. The soldiers were not telling us to leave or that it was Closed Military Zone but more and more kept arriving. By the time the army began to take action against the demonstrators, we counted at least 6o soldiers including border police.
When it seemed as if the army was going to begin to move into the village it was decided that two of us would move on ahead with video cameras to record what happened. Shortly after another international and I went on ahead with our cameras, we saw and heard commotion.
This was when I heard a scream and saw my teammate falling to the ground and then the group of soldiers honing in on the other internationals. Later on talking with my teammate, she said one of the soldiers told an international to move and when he refused, threatened to arrest him. My teammate tried to link arms with him and this is when she was thrown to the ground, which resulted in a superficial head wound and two fractured wrists, one of which needs surgery. Almost immediately after she was thrown, three of the internationals were arrested and moved out of the way.
When things had calmed down slightly around ten minutes later, I made my way through the soldiers to the back where the army medic was attending to the teammate. While I was there I also saw the three arrested internationals, one of whom had bruises covering his face from being beaten by the soldiers. The medic took care of my teammate’s immediate needs and then called the Israeli civilian ambulance. Our things, including her passport, were in our bags that were in the tent but the army refused to let us retrieve them insisting that the hospital would treat her without her passport.
However, when we switched ambulances at the Machsom checkpoint into Israel the ambulance drivers told us she needed her passport or would not be treated so while she continued onto Me’ir Hospital in Kfar Saba I returned to the village. When I got back to Izbat at Tabib the soldiers, who were well aware of the situation my teammate and I were in, told me if I tried to go back to the tent to get the passport I would be arrested. Any international who brought it to me would not be allowed to return to the tent. After around 45 minutes of waiting and trying to negotiate with the soldiers, two internationals were able to bring over our bags and I was able to then find my way into Israel to Me’ir Hospital.
At the hospital they took x-rays and determined that my teammate had fractured both wrists, one of which would heal with casting and the other which would most likely need surgery. After staying the night in the hospital and having a CT scan done the next afternoon, it was determined that she would need surgery on her left wrist.
While we were not able to be in Izbat at Tabib to witness the actions of rest of the day, as well as the following days, please visit the International Women’s Peace Service website and the International Solidarity Movement to read their accounts.