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From the field

29 July '10: Testimony: Settler seen coming from Mitzpeh Ya’ir outpost assaults Palestinian shepherd on private Palestinian land

Khaled Najar after the incident. Photo: Nasser a-Nawaj’ah, B'TselemIn the early morning hours of Thursday, 1 July 2010, Khaled Najar, 57 was grazing his flock on private Palestinian land near the village of Kawawis, in the southern Hebron hills. According to testimony he gave to B'Tselem, he saw a masked person leave the Mitzpeh Ya'ir outpost, which overlooks the area, and walk rapidly toward him. As the man approached, he shouted to Najar. When he was about 20 meters away, he threw stones at Najar and at his flock. According to Najar, when the man reached him he kicked him, knocking him to the ground. He then sat on Najar and hit him in the head with his hands and with a stone. Najar said that when his head started to bleed, the assailant got up and returned to the outpost. Najar watched him return and saw that he went to a soldier standing next to the outpost and spoke with him.

Najar called on his cell phone to B'Tselem's fieldworker in the area, Nasser a-Nawaj'ah, who lives in the nearby village of Khirbet Susiya. When a-Nawaj'ah arrived at the scene, he called the Red Crescent and took video footage of the injured Najar. A Red Crescent ambulance arrived and transported Najar to the hospital at Yatta. From there, he was taken to the government hospital in Hebron. The medical examination showed that he had a broken nose, a fractured skull, and a cut on his head. Najar remained in the hospital for two days.

Map of the area

Map of the area. To enlarge map click here. />

On 4 July, he filed a complaint at the Israeli police department in Hebron.

According to Najar, settlers have assaulted him several times. The most serious assault occurred in 2001, when he was shot in the stomach and hospitalized in serious condition at Soroka Hospital, in Beersheva. In 2008, he and another shepherd were assaulted by two settlers in the same place where the recent attack took place, near Kawawis. In that case, two persons were indicted in Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem for assault with aggravating circumstances. A court hearing is scheduled for 28 November 2010.

B'Tselem has requested the legal advisor for Judea and Samaria to locate the soldier whom Najar said spoke with the assailant, and to refer him to the Hebron police to give a statement about the incident. It should be noted that testimony given by a soldier aided the investigation of the assault for which the abovementioned indictment was filed.