Ta’ayush video: A settler attacked a B’Tselem field researcher and broke his camera in the South Hebron Hills. Soldiers present did not intervene.

22 May 2012

B’Tselem submitted a complaint to the Judea and Samaria district police against a settler who smashed a camera grabbed from one of its field researchers earlier this week in the South Hebron Hills. The incident was caught on video by a Ta’ayush activist.

Earlier this week, in the afternoon of 21 May 2012, a group of Palestinians began harvesting grain on their land not far the Mitzpe Yair outpost. This outpost is illegal even under Israeli law. The farmers came to the land after discovering on 18 May 2012 that an earlier order making the area a closed military zone was set to expire on 20 May 2012, hence they assumed they could harvest the next day. Soldiers who arrived at the area in the early afternoon told the farmers to stop working. The famers stopped and waited for permission from the Civil Administration to resume their work.

Just after the army’s arrival, a few settlers from the Mitzpe Yair outpost appeared and began taunting the Palestinians, shoving and cursing them. In the video one settler can be seen picking up a sickle from the ground and waving it around while shouting at an Israel activist: “If you film me I’ll kill you, you jerk, get out of here.” The settler is seen grabbing the video camera from B’Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj’ah and smashing it against a rock. The same settler is then confronting a soldier. The smashed camera was later found without its memory card.

The documentation of the incident shows that the soldiers at the scene did nothing to protect the Palestinians who were attacked or prevent the violence. Insofar as B’Tselem knows, the soldiers did not detain the attackers until the police arrived and did not provide testimony about the incident to the police.

This was the second documentation within three days of soldiers standing by while settlers attacked Palestinians. On 19 May 2012, settlers coming from the direction of Yitzhar to Asirah al-Qibliyah wounded Palestinians with gunfire while soldiers were present.

B’Tselem’s researcher Nasser Nawaj’ah submitted a complaint to the Hebron police about the attack, the theft and the broken camera. B’Tselem calls on the Military Police Investigation Unit to immediately open an inquiry into the suspicion that the soldiers did not fulfill their duty to defend Palestinians from violence by settlers.