Settler Attack on Mohammad Abu Haikal – full report
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Jewish Settler Attacks Palestinian Picking Olives
-Palestinian is Fined, Settler Goes Free
29th October 2014 in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, Palestine. Mohammad Abu Haikal was picking olives on his own land accompanied by his nephew, David Havard, a British citizen. At 2.30 they were attacked by a Jewish settler from Ramat Yishai settlement across the road from the Abu Haikal houses. The settler shouted at them to stop picking olives and get off the land. He then kicked towards David, who jumped back. He grabbed the ground cloth upsetting the olives on it and attempted to remove it. Mohammad also grabbed the cloth and was hit by the settler. Mohammad then picked up a piece of plastic pipe to drive the settler off his land. At this point soldiers intervened and sent the settler away without detaining him. Mohammad called the Israeli police who eventually arrived. They looked at the video David had taken but it did not show the beginning of the trouble since it all happened very fast. It only showed Mohammad’s response. They made no effort to arrest the settler but asked David and Mohammad to go with them to the police station to file a complaint against the settler.
They kept them for many hours at the police station and eventually charged Mohammad with assault of the settler and fined him 300 NIS. As he did not have that much money they handcuffed him and threatened to keep him in prison. A friend later came and paid to get him released. The settler was not arrested or even questioned that day even though the police have his photo and know who he is and where he lives.
The piece of land in question, to which Mohammad has the title deeds, is adjacent to the IDF barracks which was built on Mohammad’s land. For this reason the family are not normally able to access this land. Once a year Mohammad gets permission to pick the olives. They are forced to pick their olives early by order of the Israeli DCO in order not to have them stolen by settlers. On the 25th June the Abu Haikals filmed 2 settlers, one of whom is the security officer for the Ramat Yishai settlement, Olfar Yohanna moving the army’s barbed wire from across this land in order to pile it all up on one side to prevent the Abu Haikal’s from accessing their land. They had already opened up steps to access the land from the path they have built across Abu Haikal land. The settlers then planted 10 trees and installed an irrigation system with a water pipe running from the military post. The family could not prevent this happening so they called the police and the DCO who up to now have not removed the new trees or the irrigation system from the land. Clearly the settlers have an intention of stealing this piece of land. In the same way they still occupy the adjacent Al Bakri house and land even though ordered by the Israeli High Court to vacate this house in January 2014. Israeli police are unwilling to enforce this eviction notice on the settlers.
Tel Rumeida is a flashpoint of the occupation. Ramat Yishai settlers are determined to expand their illegal settlement by any means possible. They have occupied the ancient mosque Masjid Arbayeen and converted it into a synagogue. They have opened up footpaths across the Abu Haikal land to bring Jewish tourists to the mosque. This year the Israeli government seized 2 pieces of Abu Haikal land and gave it to Israel Antiquities Authority to build a Biblical Archaeology Park. They have said they intend to build more settlement housing on part of this land even though the Abu Haikals have a protected tenancy.
All of this settlement expansion activity and ongoing harassment of the Palestinian residents makes any two-state solution impossible to imagine. Also the routine way in which settlers are not brought to justice while their Palestinian victims receive harsh punishments prompts many people to accuse Israel of practising apartheid in the West Bank. It seems Israeli police see their job in the West Bank as primarily protecting Jewish settlers no matter how badly they behave.