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Friday, 16 March 2012

Postcard from Palestine 3 - detained by the Israeli army

Hebden Bridge's Ron Taylor is a regular visitor to Palestine, part of an international movement of supporters.

Last Saturday I was in the South Hebron hills again with Ta'ayush (the Jewish/Arab Partnership). A large group of activists went to the village of At-Tuwani but I was assigned to a group of four which was sent to the tiny community of Um-el-Amad. Our task was to accompany local Palestinian shepherds as they took their flocks to graze on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Our presence there was asked for because earlier in the week two shepherds had been kidnapped by the Israeli military, taken to the nearby settlement of Ot'niel and beaten up. Their 'crime' ? - they were too close to the settlement, even though they were on their own land.

What happened next was captured on this video.

The filming was done by one of the Ta'ayush activists.

Just by way of explanation, the Israeli soldiers appeared a short time after we arrived at the grazing areas, alerted by the settlement security officer. The senior soldier was very aggressive and when the shepherd refused to leave his land he told us we were detained. He was obviously eager to arrest us, but only the police can arrest Israeli citizens and internationals.

He then phoned the Israeli police who arrived 15 minutes later. The senior police officer was much more reasonable, aware no doubt that we were on privately-owned Palestinian land and there quite legally. (I guess that he thought the idea of arresting us would mean lots of paperwork for no real reason.) At one point he took the aggressive soldier to one side ,arm round his shoulder. Shortly afterwards the soldiers left , disconsolately, only to be replaced a few minutes later by two more, one of whom was a more senior officer.

The officer asked us to move 100 metres away from the settlement perimeter, explaining that his soldiers couldn't see us from the watchtower ! As we were on Palestinian land and no security threat, we refused. He then left the scene as did the police. Our unjustified detention was over.

It was small victory but without the presence of Ta'ayush, I suspect the shepherds would have been expelled from their own land.


Ron Taylor


See also

Postcard from Palestine 2 (19 Feb 2012)

HebWeb Forum: Postcard from Palestine

Postcard from Palestine 1 (8 Feb 2012)

HebWeb News - Hebden Bridge Old Gits support Palestinian farmers

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