AL BWEIREH, PALESTINE: Settlers “heat up the air”; outpost dismantled

11 August 2010
AL BWEIREH, PALESTINE: Settlers “heat up the air”; outpost dismantled

Israeli soldiers and police dismantled a settlement outpost in this town in the early morning of 5 August.  Arriving at 3:00 a.m., they forcibly removed some settlers from Hill 86 outpost, an offshoot of the Harsina settlement, a nearby resident reported.

CPTers alerted after the eviction arrived to see evidence of settler reaction: boulders and glass on the Palestinian road and part of a grape field burned.

The ousting follows a long period of military oppression and settler abuse of the local Palestinian population, which has heated up over the last six months.

About ten years ago, the Israeli Military and settlers erected a series of barriers blocking the road into Al Bweireh. As a result, 56 families representing 560 people can no longer bring groceries home by car, drive children to and from school through rain or ship grain and grapes to market without passing a settlement and military tower. Palestinian cars must travel an extra six or seven kilometers on a very bumpy detour road.

In Nov. 2009 villagers invited CPT to accompany children from eight schools past the settlement and outpost on their way home.  Settlers had been throwing stones at, cursing and chasing them.  Some of their bicycles were stolen.  

Over the last six months, settlers from Harsina and the outpost have been “heating up the air” in Al Bweireh with acts of provocative violence. Every Friday settlers enter the village to reach a lone tree on the hill opposite the outpost, where they say their leader, Neti, was killed some years ago. Palestinian residents said settlers tried to pick fights with Palestinians as they walked through the village.

During spring planting season settlers stole a family’s horse. This put the farmer behind in his plowing and forced him to borrow money to buy a new horse until the settlers returned his former horse one month later for a 1200 shekel ransom.

In July, settlers broke two Palestinian car windows and set fire to a lawn.  They also threw stones at farmers and cut water pipes in a grape field. One day, a large group of settlers gathered on the Palestinian road leading through the village.  Fearing something was happening to a Palestinian, the CPTers approached settlers at the outpost and were told to leave. As they were leaving, settlers kicked them and attempted to steal one of their cameras.

Since then, members of CPT or the International Solidarity Movement have been present in the village for some hours most days. Every Sunday CPTers, with their translator Hani Abuhaekel, visit the families, build relationships and monitor settlement outpost growth. One Sunday, before the outpost eviction, Al Bweireh’s former Sheik reflected: “Why do they [the settlers] come here and do this to us? We all – Jews and Muslims – lived as one family before 1928.”

Also before the eviction, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation accepted a proposal from CPTer Paul Rehm to help Al Bweireh residents remove the road blockades and will send it to all 320 member organizations, opening avenues for creative collaboration.

One roadblock the campaign may not prioritize is the earthen mound the military piled on the road to the dismantled outpost, making it inaccessible to the settlers.

That may not deter them, however.  Typically, settlers begin rebuilding almost immediately.