TEL RUMEIDA, HEBRON — A mob of 30 female settler teenagers rampaged through Tel Rumeida on Thursday, 12 January. Ten of them wore black ski masks to hide their identities, and attacked everyone they encountered, including IDF soldiers and Israeli police officers, with spit, paint bombs and insults, and surrounded a human rights worker, violently stealing the battery of his camera.
Six male settlers have begun attempts to illegally occupy an empty Palestinian home located on the path near a Palestinian girls’ school. Settlers entered the home on Tuesday, 10 January, cleaned out two rooms and broke a hole in a wall to access other rooms. Police were called and made the settlers leave but they have returned periodically to continue their preparations to occupy the house. Palestinian girls are already routinely stoned and harassed on their way to the school located near this home. The attacks will only increase if they had to pass directly in front of a settler-occupied home.
Human rights workers who live in Tel Rumeida witnessed the arrival of approximately 60 settlers on Wednesday, 11 January. These settlers were the first to respond to a call by Hebron’s settlers for Israelis “to flock to Hebron” to resist the planned disengagement of the illegally-occupied Palestinian wholesale market in Hebron’s Old City. Settlers arrived with belongings meant for a long stay in response to the call sent out by email to “bring sleeping bags, warm clothing for an extended stay and a strong spirit.”
Brian, a human rights worker living in Tel Rumeida, said “It is a very dangerous situation. Many of the settlers who live here are members of Kahane, an organization which Israel has declared racist and illegal. We see their violent hatred on a daily basis. We call on the international and Israeli community to pressure the police and IDF to enforce the law against violent settlers immediately; stop them, arrest them and prosecute them.”
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated that the removal of the settlers from the wholesale market will be completed by the 15 February. Settlers were ordered to leave the Palestinian-owned shops by 15 January, or face forcible eviction. Settlers have already clashed violently with police and the IDF when eviction orders were issued on 3 January, injuring four police officers, including a policeman who was hurt by a liquid that burned his eyes. Violent resistance from the settlers between these dates is expected and could be worse than the Gaza pullout due to Hebron’s religious significance to settlers. This is a threat to both Palestinian residents and IDF soldiers in the area.
The Tel Rumeida Project and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) live in Tel Rumeida, where they support Palestinian families by documenting and intervening in settler violence.