Basemah Abu Hatah, mother of nine
I live with my husband and our nine children. The oldest is twenty-one and the youngest is three. We live in an old, two-story house in the a-Saleymeh neighborhood. The house has two entrances, which faces the neighborhood and leads to the first floor, and an entrance facing the path that the settlers use linking Kiryat Arba and the Tomb of the Patriarchs. They call it Worshipper's Way.
On Saturday [27 January], at around eight at night, I was on the first floor of the house, talking with our neighbor, Umm 'Izmat, who had come to visit with her six children. All my children were at home. The small ones were on the first floor and the four big children were on the second floor. They were playing cards with their friends. My husband was not at home.
Suddenly, I heard the sound of lots of people inside the house. I ran to the second floor, where I saw more than thirty settlers - men and women, all of them young. They were beating my children. I shouted for help. My daughter, Haba, who is fifteen, and our neighbor also shouted.
The children tried to push the settlers out of the house, through the door they had entered. The attack lasted about fifteen minutes. While this was happening, I saw two army vehicles that had stopped opposite the house. Some soldiers were standing next to the vehicles. During most of the attack, the soldiers did nothing. Only at the last moment, when my children had already managed to push most of the settlers out, a few soldiers came into the house and helped them. My children left the house and I followed them outside to bring them back into the house.
The soldiers detained my son Muhammad, 19, and took him to a place about fifty meters from the house. In the meantime, my husband arrived home. He went to the soldiers and asked them why they had detained Muhammad. One of the soldiers told him that he shouldn't be worried, and that he would release Muhammad shortly. Muhammad indeed returned in a few minutes.
Not long after that, the soldiers knocked on the door. One of them spoke with my husband. My husband told me that the soldier said that we should not have done what we did to the settlers. A few minutes after that, an army officer came to the house. He stood by the door and spoke with my son 'Abd a-Rahman. My son said that the officer apologized for what happened and wished him a good night.
This was not the first time that settlers had attacked us. Three years ago, following the action in Wadi a-Nasara (the attack on the soldiers on Worshipper's Way, in 2002), our door was open and six or seven settlers came in. They broke the glass pane of the closet in the bedroom. By chance, an army jeep was passing by. We stopped it and the settlers fled. If the army had not come, they might have injured us.
I think that the settlers would not have entered our house if they didn't think the Israeli army would protect them and wait for them by the door. The army interfered in the attack to protect the settlers, not to protect us.
Basemah Muhammad Mahmoud Abu Hatah, 39, married with nine children, is a homemaker and a resident of Hebron. Her testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness's home on 12 February 2007.