Gush Katif (right) is a block of Israeli settlements in the southern Gaza Strip. (Arjan El Fassed)
Israeli settlers, masquerading as NGO workers trick Palestinian civilians into signing over land - when the scam was uncovered the settlers ran over 11 Palestinian civilians with their vehicle during an escape attempt.
In an attempt to purchase land from Palestinian civilians under a fraudulent pretext Israeli settlers yesterday, the 5th of July 2005, critically injured 2 Palestinian civilians and injured 9 others when they ran over them with their jeeps.
One week ago Palestinian civilians living in the al-Ma’ani area were visited by a German national residing in the Netherlands calling himself Volcker Naneen, Passport Number 1775139320 who said that he was from the German NGO who would provide money for ‘humanitarian relief’ purposes. He then approached the Palestinian civilians and gave them the money (US$1000) on condition that they sign a blank piece of paper, providing their ID number, printed name and signature. Fourteen representatives of families from the area signed the paper.
Around 1730 yesterday a white GMC jeep containing three Israeli settlers, as well as an Israeli-Arab lawyer who called himself ‘Esam Hamdan’, came into al Ma’ani, to the east of the Israeli settlement Kfar Darom. He claimed to be acting on behalf of Volcker Naneen.
Hamdan informed some Palestinian civilians that he would distribute more financial assistance donated by the German NGO. He then began to distribute the sum of US$1000 for each family.
After giving each person the money he then asked them, individually, to sign papers that he produced. Hamdan claimed that the papers were thank you letters. 14 families signed all the pieces of paper provided by Hamdan. However, upon being asked to sign the documents one of the Palestinian civilians insisted on reading all the documents. At this point Hamdan tried to leave and he burst through the crowd of people and got into his jeep with the other Israelis.
The jeep began to move quickly and drove through the crowds of people who were attacking the jeep trying to get back their signed papers. Eleven Palestinian civilians were injured by the jeep - two of them critically. However they managed to retrieve 12 of the 14 signed sets of documents.
Significantly, Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) came to the area and protected the path of the jeep from al Ma’ani to the settlement. Furthermore, the IOF didn’t allow Palestinian ambulances to access the area to tend to the wounded for more then two hours. Finally they called Israeli ambulances, an acknowledgment of the serious nature of the injuries. The Israeli ambulances took three of the people - two of them were transferred to a nearby Palestinian Red Crescent Ambulance while the third was transferred to Saroka hospital in Beer She’va, inside Israel. The other injured civilians were transferred to al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah.
Shortly after the incident the Israeli police arrived into the area and launched an investigation of the actions of the Palestinian civilians. Later on the Israeli army raided the homes of Palestinian civilians seeking the papers which had been retrieved.
One of the Palestinians who was injured in the hit and run attack by settlers was Yahiyaa Ioub Abu Sumra. He was able to keep one set of the papers after the Israeli soldiers burned the other documents and has described the incident and handed over copies of the documents to PCHR.
The documents which the Arab-Israeli lawyer gave to Palestinian civilians consisted of three documents consisting of 5 pages. These documents include a contract consisting of the following stipulations:
1. That the Palestinian civilian is the owner of a certain area of land, that they have no debts and that they agree to sell their land to the named German citizen and his lawyer Essam Hamdam has power of attorney in this matter;
2. That the seller commits to evacuating their property within one day of the sale;
3. The buyer will pay US$6900 for the property;
4. US$1000 will be paid to the seller upon signature of the contract.
PCHR is shocked by the latest attempt by Israeli settlers (illegally residing the in the Occupied Palestinian Territory) to appropriate land from Palestinian civilians for their own self gain. PCHR believes that any individual involved in the development or supporting such activities are involved in grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and should be prosecuted as such including foreign nationals. PCHR demands that a thorough and impartial investigation be conducted into this latest attempt including by the German and Dutch governments into the involvement of a national and resident of their countries respectively.