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From the field

Daily attacks by settlers on the Abu Armila family, Hebron

Fawzi Abu Armila, 53

Fawzi Abu Armila

I've been living in the same house for the past thirty-two years. The settlement of Givat Haharsina is located five meters from the house. The road leading to our house is blocked by a pile of rocks. Thirty-five people live in the house - my twelve children, eight daughters, and four sons. My oldest son, Hamza, is married and has a baby. On the top floor, my brother Fawaz, 45, lives with his wife and their eight children. My daughter and son-in-law, Ashraf Zohir Yunes, 35, and their four children, also live with us. Also living with us is my pregnant daughter and her three children.

Since the start of the first intifada, we've been suffering because of the settlers. The problems got worse with the present intifada. They use all sorts of methods to attack us. They throw stones at houses and passersby. My children and my neighbors' children have been hit by stones, as have scores of other children. Two years ago, settlers threw stones at my son, Hazan, who is now sixteen and a half, when he was on his way home. He fell and broke his hand. My daughter Arij was hit in the head with a stone six months ago while she was on her way home. When it happened, I went over to the army jeep and tried to tell the soldiers about Arij's injury. One of the soldiers answered me in Hebrew: "Go away."

During the month of Ramadan, a seventy-five-year-old relative, Umm Yunes al-Qawasmi, wanted to visit us. As she passed by the guard's post, settlers threw a rock at her that hit her in the head. She needed to go to the hospital for treatment.

The army blocks traffic on the road leading to our house for a distance of 300 meters, north and south. The only way we can reach our house is by foot. Two weeks ago, the army opened the entrance to settlers that is close to the hill on which a settler was killed about four years ago [Netanel Ozeri, "Hilltop 26"]. The settlers had a party there.

Because of the road closure, we use a cart to get things to the house: food, gas canisters, flour. Sometimes, we carry things on our shoulders. When they throw stones at us, we're forced to go through the hills and walk about a kilometer to get home.

Twenty days ago, a group of more than fifteen young settlers, aged 16-19, threw rocks at our house. They usually throw stones between 2:30 and 4:00 in the afternoon. When this happens, we stay inside the house. They stand behind the fence when they throw the rocks, a distance of five meters from the house. When the incident ended, I spoke with the army. The soldiers responded by saying, "Go back to your house."

Once, an army jeep came over to us, and a soldier told me to give him my camera. I told him that the police said I should take pictures of the settlers who attack me. He called the police and changed his mind.

On Sunday [7 January 2007], I went to the police to give testimony about recent attacks by settlers.

On Thursday [11 January 2007], at 2:30 in the afternoon, I was at home sitting in the yard with my family and with my brother Fawaz and his family. We were more than twenty people, and there were a lot of babies and women among us. Settlers standing on the other side of the fence started throwing stones into the yard, dozens of them. I helped the babies and women move inside the house quickly. Forty-five minutes after the attack began, I took my camera and climbed up a ladder in the yard. I tried to photograph what was happening through a hole in the fence that surrounds the yard, but I couldn't do it. I went into the street and photographed the settlers throwing rocks and swearing. While taking the pictures, some stones hit me. I managed to continue hold on like that for about ten minutes. Then the settlement guard aimed his M-16 rifle at me and ran toward me together with a group of more than fifteen settlers. He shouted to the settlers, "Throw rocks," and "War." I heard him say the name, "Uri." He shouted "Maniac," and "Muhammad is a pig" at me. When the guard and the settlers were a distance of fifteen meters from me, I got scared and started to run. And then I tripped and fell in front of my house. My two oldest daughters came to help me into the house. I hurt my right hip and felt a sharp pain. It was already an hour after the assault. I called the Israeli police, and they said they would come quickly. They arrived a half an hour later. I left the house and walked to the guard's post, which is about fifty meters south of the house. When the policeman saw me, he called to me, and then the settlers stopped throwing rocks. The policeman asked, "Who attacked you?" and I pointed to the group of settlers. The policeman counted them. There were seventeen. I told him other settlers were also involved in the assault. The policeman asked if I wanted to file a complaint, and I said I did. They took me in the police car to the station in Kiryat Arba. While giving my testimony, I started feeling pain, and one of the policemen tried to examine me and help me. He also photographed the injury. I was at the station until 8:00 P.M. The police still have the film of the pictures I took during the assaults.

At 9:30 Friday morning [January 12, 2007], I returned to the Kiryat Arba police station, at the police's request. Two policemen accompanied me to my house, investigated the incidents, and took photographs.

Fawzi Ahmad Yehiye Abu Armila, 53, married with twelve children, is unemployed, and aresident of Hebron. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness's house on 14 January 2007.