On the morning of Thursday 7 January 2010, Israeli soldiers attacked and injured Palestinian shepherds from the Musa Raba’i family, as they grazed their sheep in Humra valley, near the village of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. The soldiers also attacked the CPTers accompanying the shepherds and broke a video camera. Before leaving the area, the soldiers arrested one of the shepherds, Musab Musa Raba’i.
At around 10:30 a.m., Palestinian shepherds were grazing their sheep on Palestinian land, for which they have legally-recognized deeds of ownership, when they saw Israeli settlers observing them from the outpost of Havat Ma’on. A short time later, an Israeli army jeep came to the area. After stopping to speak with one of the settlers, three Israeli soldiers approached the shepherds and ordered them to leave the area. The shepherds explained that it was their land, but agreed to move further down into the valley. The soldiers followed them and grabbed at one of the shepherds, so they all tried to leave the area quickly with their sheep. A second army jeep came to the area, and a further three soldiers joined in the attack. Soldiers hit the shepherds with their rifle butts, pushed them, and kicked them while other soldiers held them to the ground.
Other members of the family came to the area, and the women tried to intervene, hoping to de-escalate the situation. However, the soldiers also forcefully pushed the women to the ground. CPTers trying to videotape the violent attack were roughly pushed and a soldier grabbed and broke one of their video cameras.
Other villagers came to the area and tried to calm the situation by talking with the soldiers, but the soldiers ignored all pleas for calm and instead fired sound grenades and tear gas into the small group of women and children gathered nearby on the hillside.
Israeli police reported to the scene after receiving numerous calls from internationals, but arrived as the soldiers were leaving the area. The police told CPTers that there would be a military investigation into the actions of the soldiers.
During the incident, a spokesperson from an Israeli human rights organization called the local Israeli Army Brigade Operations Room and the Israeli Army Coordination Office to find out what was happening. She told CPT, “I called several time and they had no information and no idea that something was going on in At Tuwani.”
The military kept Musab Musa Raba’i at the army base beside Susiya settlement, where they beat him severely and then took him to Kiryat Arba police station. The police held him for half hour and then threw him–while he was still blindfolded and handcuffed–from a jeep near the city of Yatta. One elderly woman, Umm Juma’ Raba’i, and a young woman, Umm Ribhi Raba’i, who is two months pregnant, had to be taken to hospital, suffering from the effects of tear gas inhalation. Three of the shepherds, Kamaal Raba’i, Majde Raba’i and Juma’ Raba’i were hospitalized for their injuries, and a young boy, Ramze Jamaal Raba’i, had his tooth broken.
The Raba’i family, along with the rest of At-Tuwani villagers, has for the last five years waged a strategic nonviolent campaign to retain their lands at risk of confiscation by the Israeli government and local Israeli settlements.