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Over Passover, Settlers Attacked Three Grandmothers.

I Was One of Them
We, three women in our 60s and 70s, wanted to see the settlement reality for ourselves. We got a smaller but bitter taste of the violence and hatred Palestinians in the area experience as routine.

During Passover, I traveled to the West Bank with two other women, all of us members of Machsom Watch, an Israeli human rights group. Our goal was to visit two Palestinian villages: in one, Kafr a-Dik, settlers had recently cut down some olive trees; in the other, Urif, residents had tried to work in their olive groves, but, even though they had arranged this with the army, settlers stopped them from doing so. We wanted to see with out own eyes, rather than reading about, the places where all this had happened. Both villages are less than 10 kilometers east of the Green Line, about 30 miles from either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
Accompanied by a resident of Kafr a-Dik, we got as far as the settlement of Alei Zahav, on whose outskirts another settlement, Leshem, is being built. Tractors were working and some kind of a tour was going on, possibly for prospective buyers of what indeed appears to be what will be a lovely neighborhood. (A promo for Leshem on the settlers’ Arutz 7 website calls it “one of Israel’s fastest growing communities…situated on the charming Samarian hilltops…a haven of fresh air and serenity…affordable, top quality homes.”)
But we could not go any farther to reach the village farmlands, because a closure had been imposed on the territories for the duration of Passover, the Feast of Freedom, and our Palestinian guide would not be allowed in.
So we proceded to Urif, a few kilometers northeast. There we met Adel, a young field worker for B’tselem, a human rights organization that works in partnership with Machsom Watch for these tours, and drove to the outskirts of the village, whose lands border the infamously hardline settlement of Yitzhar.
Besides Adel, we were three women in our 60s and 70s. Together we walked up a gentle slope covered with low shrubs and wildflowers to the edge of a ridge overlooking an olive grove below. On the opposite ridge stood the homes of Yitzhar, whose radical yeshiva is a beneficiary of the Kushner family’s charitable donations. We stood there for about 10 minutes, while Adel told us what had happened in the grove about a week before, when Palestinian farmers arrived there by prior arrangement with the IDF. Settlers had come down and threatened them, a clash ensued, the army fired tear gas and the farmers were forced to leave.
We were ready to go back to the car when we saw several figures emerge from the bushes and rocks on the hill opposite – first one, then two, then three people, apparently young men or older teens.
As we watched, some put on masks and started coming down the hill toward us. Knowing Yitzhar’s reputation as one of the most extreme West Bank settlements, with a long history of violent harassment of their Palestinian neighbors, as well as numerous incidents of assaults on the Israeli army and police, I was definitely not interested in any encounter with them. I had come to learn and observe, not to engage in deliberate heroics. Two of us started walking quickly toward the car, while the third, more defiant, stood her ground and watched as they made their way down the hill.
As they came closer, I could see that the leader, who seemed older than the others, had a club or heavy stick in his hand. Then, suddenly, they started throwing stones at us. All three of us women now ran to the car. But Adel picked up a stone, threw it back at them, and made a phone call.
By the time we reached the car, several men he had apparently summoned by phone from the Palestinian village – including an older man with a white beard, two younger men and a couple of kids – were arriving at the hilltop. This ended the incident; the settlers, seeing reinforcements, and with no soldiers around to intervene, apparently decided it would be best to withdraw. They retreated up the hill, and we quickly got in the car and drove home.
This had been a routine visit by Machsom Watch, its aim being to witness and bear witness to Israel’s settlement project. We came away with a small but bitter taste of what the Palestinians in the area have to face on a regular basis – in a place where the mere presence of one Palestinian and three women easily identifiable as “leftists” was enough for the neighboring settlers to arm themselves with sticks, stones and hatred.
We returned to Israel through the Shomron Crossing (for Israeli vehicles only), where the suspicious female security guard opened the car door and scrutinized our Israeli ID cards carefully, asking: "Where do you live? Where have you been?" I am still considering my answer.
Carol Cook is a journalist and editor at Haaretz.

Carol Cook

Haaretz Contributor

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.784491

Schermata 2017 04 20 alle 17.37.53

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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