Two settlers arrested on suspicion of attack on Palestinian shepherds

8 Jun 2008

Today [17 June 2008], the Israeli police arrested two settlers suspected of attacking Palestinians in the Southern Hebron Hills. On 8 June 2008, four masked settlers with clubs attacked three members of the Nawaj'ah family who were grazing their flock on private Palestinian land south of the Susiya settlement. The victims suffered severe injuries and required hospitalization. A fourth member of the family documented the beginning of the assault with a video camera she had received from B'Tselem.

The Nawaj'ah family lives in Khirbet Susiya, a small encampment in the Southern Hebron Hills just south of the Susiya settlement. They live in tents and support themselves by grazing their flock and working their land. As they are the object of  frequent attack by settlers, B'Tselem has given the family a video camera as part of its Camera distribution project.

On 8 June 2008, ‘Imran a-Nawaj'ah, 32, went with two of his children to graze his flock south of the settlement, on a plot of land belonging to a resident of the nearby Samu' Village. Although an Israeli court has declared the land a military zone closed to Israelis, two settlers drove up to the shepherds on a tractor and tried to drive them off the land. When a-Nawaj'ah refused and told the settlers he had court permission to be on the land, they threatened him and then drove off toward the settlement. Fearing an attack, A-Nawaj'ah sent his son to the encampment to call for reinforcement. Khalil, 61, Tamam, 60, and Rabiha A-Nawaj'ah, 29, came quickly to the spot along with Muna, 25, who managed to film the settlers leaving the site:

About ten minutes later, she captured on camera four settlers marching toward the family, with clubs in their hands and their faces covered. The footage shows Tamam (in brown, on the right), Khalil (in white) and ‘Imran (in red, with a hat). The settlers then began attacking ‘Imran with their clubs:

Muna then dropped the camera and ran for help. Meanwhile, the settlers severely beat Khalil, Tamam, and ‘Imran and left the spot. About half an hour later, ‘Imran's sons managed to stop an army jeep on the main road, a few hundred meters from the scene of the assault, and asked the soldiers to call for help. Another half hour passed, during which the soldiers did not provide the injured with first-aid, and then an army ambulance and police patrol van arrived. Tamam was taken to Soroka Hospital, in Israel, and another family member filmed the other victims waiting for a Red Crescent ambulance to arrive. The footage shows Muna sitting with the wounded Khalil and ‘Imran:

While they waited, a policeman took Muna and Khalil's testimony, as well as the video tape documenting the incident. Tamam was released from the hospital four days later and described the event to a B'Tselem worker: