An op-ed by Jessica Montell, first published in the The Huffington Post
On Saturday B’Tselem camera volunteer Shadi Sidr filmed a settler trying to climb onto Sidr’s own roof to take down a Palestinian flag flying there. The settler got caught in the barbed wire that encircles the roof. The two men go to speaking to one another, and the settler informed Shadi that Shadi’s roof actually belongs to the settler, not Shadi, because the roof is part of Land of Israel. An Israeli soldier then came to the house. He too demanded that Shadi take down the flag, trying to justify his order by saying there are no other flags in the area. The footage belies this statement, showing many Israeli flags nearby.
Shortly thereafter, five other soldiers arrived at the house. They ordered Shadi and his brothers ‘Abed and Adham to take down the flag, threatening to arrest Shadi should he refuse. The incident was filmed by B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Jaabari and B’Tselem camera volunteer Mahmoud Abu Hayah.
B’Tselem would like to underscore the fact that soldiers must ensure the safety of Palestinian individuals. They must not abandon a Palestinian to fend for himself in the face of a throng trying to gain access to his private residence. Not only did this particular Palestinian not receive military protection, soldiers came on the scene shortly after and ordered him, on pain of arrest, to take down a flag of Palestine from his own roof. The demand was made while many Israeli flags were flying undisturbed in the immediate vicinity. The soldiers, responsible for maintaining security in the area, are first and foremost obliged to protect Palestinians who constitute the protected population of the West Bank. It goes without saying that soldiers must not aid and abet settlers trespassing on Palestinians’ homes or satisfy the whim of a settler displeased by the sight of Palestinian flag flying in Hebron.
Clip of settler on the roof, filmed by B’Tselem camera project volunteer Shadi Sidr
Clip of soldiers’ on the roof, filmed by Manal al-Jaabari, B’Tselem