[Note: The following release was written by members of Operation Dove, who, along with CPT live as an international presence in At-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills.
According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]
Umm al Kheir, South Hebron Hills, West Bank On Sunday, 23 January 2011, two volunteers from Operation Dove, who were accompanying shepherds of the village of Umm Al Kheir, were attacked by two settlers from Karmel settlement.
At about 9:00 a.m. the volunteers arrived in Umm Al Kheir village to escort the Palestinian shepherds across a nearby hill. Previously on 21 January 2011, settlers from Karmel, under the protection of the IDF and the Border Police, planted a row of trees on the top of the hill, thus obstructing Palestinian shepherds’ access to the land where they usually graze their flocks.
The Palestinians villagers asked for an international presence to monitor the situation and to help prevent incidents with the settlers.
Ten minutes after the beginning of the accompaniment, two settlers from the Karmel outpost attacked the volunteers, kicking and punching the. The settlers succeeded in grabbing one volunteer's video camera, but the other volunteer managed to take pictures of the event and of the two settlers' faces.
After the attack, the volunteers headed for a Border Police jeep that was in the area but had not witnessed the event. After explaining what happened, the Border Police retrieved Operation Dove's video camera from the settlers. The police arrived later.
One of the settlers, who did not physically take part in the attack, came close to the internationals as they stood next to the Border Police and Police. He said that he would give back the video camera, if the internationals deleted all the pictures of the attack and of the settlers' faces.
The volunteers refused to accept the deal and after about one hour, they had their video camera back. The camera was not broken, but all the video had been deleted. Accompanied by the police, the Operation Dove members went to the Israeli police station in Kiryat Arba to make a complaint.
Episodes like this are frequent in the South Hebron Hills, where the national-religious settlers from the settlements and the outposts attack Palestinians and internationals with impunity, to force farmers and shepherds to leave their lands. Many attacks of them occur with army and police complicity.
Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.