IOF and settlers attack Palestinian villagers

Published: Fri 18 Nov 2005 05:08 PM
1. IOF and settlers attack Palestinian villagers
November 16th, 2005
2. ISM Activists retrieve dead body of Mohammed AbuSalah
3. Settlers of Hebron March to Palestinian School
November 16, 2005
4. Israeli Military Attacks Civilian Houses in Nablus
November 14th, 2005
5. Three Villages Protest the Wall
First Wall Protest for Village of Abud
November 18th, 2005
The March Against the Wall from Nazlat 'Isa to Tulkarm City,
November 16th, 2005
Independence in a Prison;
March in Bil'in Against the Wall
November 18th, 2005
6. Video available for 11.11.05 Bil'in Demonstration at
7. Abu Ahmed and Jonathan Pollack on Democracy Now
Wednesday, November 16th, 2005
8. Israeli Military Court Acquits Israeli Officer of All Charges
Relating to the Killing of a Palestinian Girl
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
1. IOF and settlers attack Palestinian villagers
November 16th, 2005
The Israeli military and illegal Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian villagers of Awarta, near Nablus , as they tried to peacefully harvest olives from their trees. 88-year old Thalji Mahmud Awad was beaten to the ground by a group of ten settlers, even as he begged them, "In God's name, please stop."
At 09:05 on Wednesday, November 16, 2005, a group of five Human Rights Observers (HROs) from the International Solidarity Movement arrived near the village of Awarta to see a group of approximately 30
Palestinians awaiting access to olive trees on their land by a group of Israeli Soldiers and Police. After examining identification of everyone in the group, and conducting a search of all their harvesting implements including bags carried by their donkeys, soldiers gradually allowed the group to pass them and proceed to harvest olives on land that lies behind the outermost fence of Itamar settlement. This fence, illegal even by Israeli laws, was built shortly before the olive harvest last year, and is a de facto annexation of Palestinian land to the settlement.
Soldiers denied the group of Human Rights Observers access to this area, and refused to let them proceed to the edge of the fence in order to observe due to a "closed military zone" order. Shortly after
10:00, from their position far away from the farmers and the settlement, the foreign observers witnessed a group of settlers running quickly across the hilltop. At 10:45, after challenging the Israeli Military's "closed military zone" order, the group of HROs walked closer to the fence, and were able to see and hear a group of settlers running and screaming on the hillside in front of them. One of the HROs asked a soldier what was happening, and if anyone had sent soldiers or police to deal with this, and the soldier said yes, that they had.
At approximately this time, a group of ten settler boys attacked Thalji Mahmud Awad as he was attempting to harvest olives with his family. Hadj Thalji, born in 1917, was beaten and had his left arm injured, requiring medical attention. The extent of his injuries are not yet known. His donkey's saddlebags and the items within them were also stolen by the group of attackers. A policeman who spoke very briefly with Hadj Thalji refused to take a report from him, instead telling him to go to the hospital to get a doctor's report about the injuries, and bring this, with photographs of the injuries, to the DCO on Sunday.
When questioned about the incident of Thalji Mahmud Awad's beating, soldiers denied that any beating or theft had taken place, and denied, in fact, that there had been any incidents with settlers.
In a separate incident, at approximately 11:15, a soldier approached 40 year old Sa'ad Awad as he spoke on his mobile phone, and shouted at him that he was forbidden to speak on his phone. When the soldier tried to take Awad's phone from him, 35 year old Abdul Salaam, standing nearby, got in the soldiers way, protecting Sa'ad Awad. The soldier hit Abdul Salaam, and took his identity card, telling him he had to return to Awarta, and could not work anymore. In an act of solidarity with Salaam, the other villagers also left, saying that if
Abdul Salaam could not work, then they would not work either.
During this same incident, one soldier told Sa'ad Awad "this is not your land, your land is in Jordan." Awad responded that "this is my father's land and his father's land before him." The soldier then threatened to kill Saad Awad, saying "I will shoot you."
After leaving in solidarity with Abdul Salaam, the Palestinian farmers wanted to go back to work, but were denied entry by the soldiers. This in spite of the fact that Rabbi Arik Ascherman, of Rabbis for Human Rights , had just spoken with the officer in charge of the olive harvest, who granted permission for the farmers to return to harvest. The soldiers criticized Rabbi Ascherman, calling he and the other Rabbis in RHR "goyim."
At 12:03, soldiers again checked the identity cards of all the villagers including the identification of the limping Thalji Mahmud Awad, and again searched their bags and donkeys. The soldiers then allowed the villagers of Awarta to return to their land and continue the harvest. Several soldiers laughed at the request of one HRO to be allowed to accompany the Palestinians to prevent further attacks.
In the presence of many settlers, the farmers continued to harvest until 13:00, when they left and made their way back to Awarta village, leaving many trees un-harvested.
2. ISM Activists retrieve dead body of Mohammed Abu Salha
Testimony of ISM Activist Dave, USA
Witness statement of the search for and recovery of the body of Mohammed Abu Salha, 15 years old on Tuesday November 8th 2005
Filed Friday 11/11/05
The ISMers were receiving a tour of the Balata refugee camp when our guide got a call that that Israeli soldiers had surrounded three people in Nablus and could we come check it out. The group ascended and we took several taxis to the north mountain area where the three people had last been seen. Our guide received a call that the army had left, but one or two people were still missing. The group climbed some steep steps up to a gravel mountain road just below a road block. The area was eerily quiet and was light by a half moon and stars. It was decided that the group would split up: part would move up the road, others would stay put at the roadblock. At this point we met with the uncle of Muhammad who had heard his nephew was last seen in the area and came up to search for him. I walked up the road with a large group of internationals calling out "Muhammad" as well as "international medical team" and "international volunteers" so as to identify ourselves to any Israeli soldiers in the area. We walked slowly, turned up the switchback and continued on. The road butted up against a 3 meter high rock face to the left, apparently cut to accommodate the road. About 150 meters past the switchback I saw a figure wearing a white top, laying on his back, arms laying out crucifix-like with his legs slightly elevated directly to my left. I said "There he is."
It was clear half of his face was covered in dark blood. The body was laying on top of a rock pile created from a portion of the rock face crumbling. When we found Muhammad's body, our guide and the uncle scrambled up the rock pile and together picked the by up and stepped to the road. Blood was dripping from the boys head and I saw a large wound on the back of his head. [Later that night, at the flat, another activist pointed out blood droplets on my green pants and gray fleece.] I started taking my jacket off and moving in to check his pulse or perform CPR, but another activist said, "He's definitel dead."
Without taking his hands off the boy, our guide threw the body over his shoulder and started walking down the mountain road. Several of us looked at the area from where the body had been lifted and noticed a large amount of blood at the spot where the boy's head had laid.
Our guide and Muhammad's uncle carried the body down the road to just above the roadblock where Red Crescent paramedics met them with a stretcher. Afterwards the group again walked up the road to search for another person who was at the time still missing. While passing the rock pile, several people took flash photographs of the site where we had found Muhammad's body.
General assessment of the position of the boy's body: Only could he have landed where he did if the boy was, say climbing up the rock pile and cresting the rock face when he was shot in the head killing him instantly, where after he fell directly backwards, arms spread wide. If this were true, given the accuracy of the shot, it would most probably have been fired from close range.
ISM Activist Sherrill, USA
Frankly, I thought it was a wild goose chase, but there was nothing to do but go along with it...I stayed with another international who couldn't climb any further while the others went searched up and down the hill, in the dark, without flashlights. After about 10 minutes a
Palestinian man approached us from the direction we had come, and asked -in Arabic- "who is up ahead?" We explained that we were internationals looking for a man. The man took off running up the hill. Another 10 minutes later and 3 ambulances arrived, talked with us, called ahead to the others up the hill, and then ran that way also. They had heard from the wounded men that there was indeed another man up there. A bit later the whole bunch came down the hill, the Palestinian man wailing and crying, the wounded man on a stretcher that was carried by us. We were able to observe a youth, his face full of blood, dead.
The story --apart from the obvious loss of a child--became clear only today after the boy's funeral. The boy we saw was a fifteen year old named Mohammed Abu Salha. He had been with 3 young friends on their way to the top of the hill to explore an abandoned building when they were shot at by soldiers. Two, ages 14 and 15, were wounded, a the 3rd ran away, and Mohammed was shot and left there. The Army said they thought they were "militants". When we found the boy, he had been dead for less than an hour.
The wail of the man who came down the hill with the stretcher is what stays with me. He was the uncle of the boy. I did not hear the wails of his mother and father today because I went olive picking instead of going to the funeral.
This death is not likely to appear in any newspaper, not even here, because it is no longer news that a Palestinian youth was killed by an occupying army, mistaken for a militant, unless that is just a convenient excuse for reducing the Palestinian population.
Haaretz, a leading Israeli daily, did in fact report the killing, but took at face value the IDF's claim: "The IDF said its troops had opened fire on Palestinians suspected of planning to plant an explosive to ambush troops on a road leading to a nearby settlement."
Reuters reports that shooting as a confrontation
Testimony of ISM Activist #3, UK
The internationals felt we were a large enough group to search the hillside in relative safety. We split into two groups, one Palestinian with each. After a few minutes another Palestinian man joined the group I was in. He had come from the nearby houses. He said he was the uncle of Mohammed Abu Salha, 15, who had been seen on the hillside with another boy when the soldiers started shooting and Mohammed had still not been found. He explained that the family lived up the hillside and that Mohammed had been out playing. The group I was with walked up the track (it appeared to be a road that had been blocked to vehicles) calling to Mohammed and listening for a response. It was getting dark so some people used the light of their mobile phones. We did not see any soldiers or hear any shots. At about 1810, someone spotted a leg.
One of the Palestinian volunteers rushed to the body to check a pulse. His uncle also rushed to the body. They both tried to pick him up but before they moved him some of the internationals and I had time to see the position of the body. We did not take photos then because we were concerned that there were still soldiers in the area and they might shoot when they saw the camera flash. Mohammed Abu Salha had been on his back, his head down the mountain from his legs, as though he had been facing up the hill and fallen backwards. There was a lot of blood on his shirt on the left side of his chest and I thought he'd been shot in the torso or the top of his arm. The Palestinian volunteer who picked him up remembers that his shirt was pulled out from his trousers and lifted up but I did not see that.
The Palestinian volunteer and the uncle tried to carry the body and I tried to help. I held the boy under the left of his back and got his blood on my hands. I noticed his face looked fixed and pale and there was blood on his lip. Then the uncle collapsed crying and the other Palestinian took the boy over his shoulder. He seemed to want to get down quickly but I don't know whether that was to get to the ambulance or to get away from the army.
I tried to hold up Mohammed's head and then realised that there was a lot of blood coming from there. It felt like the back of his skull was not there and the blood was not very warm. The whole group walked back down the track together. I called the medics and someone else called the second group. When we got back down to the roadblock the ambulances were waiting. The medics took over before 1815.
I went back up to photograph the site in daylight. Blood stains still show where he lay and where we carried him. There was a single patch of blood under where his head had been and none anywhere else. Blood shows clearly on the white rock. There was no trail of blood around where he had lay or on the slopping rock face above. There were no signs of an explosion and the track was blocked by mounds of earth and rubble, with some plants growing. We had found the boy near the track high on the hillside, close to the newly constructed houses and to the west of the nearest landmark, the ruins at the top of the hill. We found him on a flat part raised from the street where the rocks are marked with signs and Hebrew letters.

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