On Saturday morning, Israeli Ta’ayush activists accompanied Palestinian residents of the village of Shweika in the South Hebron Hills to their grazing and farm lands in a valley near the illegal Eshtamoa outpost. According to Guy, a veteran activist and documenter, settlers and Israeli soldiers have been obstructing or preventing access to the land in recent weeks, despite the fact that Israeli authorities recognize the valley as private Palestinian land and have restricted any Israelis from entering it.
Just before 11 a.m., 10-15 settlers came down from the outpost into the valley – most of them with their faces covered to avoid identification – and began throwing stones, some of them using slingshots. As can be seen in several videos below, three of the settlers violently assaulted one activist, with one of the settlers using a club. Watch the second video to the very end: You can see a soldier slowly making his way up to the settlers who run off after the attack. He did not try and stop them, does not run after them, and in fact pats one on the shoulder in a friendly, not disciplinary manner. This kind of dynamic not only makes the double standard in treatment of Palestinians clear, but shows that it is in fact the settlers who run the show in these parts.
The activist was badly bruised on his arms, legs and back. According to Guy, soldiers in the area looked on and did nothing to prevent it, nor did they detain the settlers or demand to see their faces and identify them. Guy, along with the victim and another activist, went to the Kiryat Arba police station to file a complaint. The police said the incident will be investigated.
Two of the soldiers who were in the valley at the time of the incident also happened to be at the police station. They told Guy that an armed settler screamed at them to shoot at the Israeli Ta’ayush activists, threatening to do so himself if they refused his order. Unfortunately, based on over a decade of Ta’ayush experience with similar incidents, the chances that these settlers will be brought to justice is next to nil, despite clear evidence.
Several Israeli news sites reported on the incident in Hebrew. According to Haaretz’s report, the IDF Spokesperson responded by stating that the video was “tendentiously edited” and that the soldiers on the scene responded as per protocol: they “distanced the residents” [presumably they mean settlers] and called the police to investigate the suspects.
As far as Guy knows, no suspects were taken into custody – certainly not at the time of the incident, when it was most crucial.