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Testimony: Settlers assault shepherds from Shu'b al-Buttom near the Avigail outpost, 4 July 2009

Khalil Abu ‘Aram, 21

Khalil Abu ‘Aram

I live with my family in Khirbet Shu'b al-Buttom and help my father graze the flock.

Last Saturday [4 July], around 8:00 A.M., I was grazing sheep on my family's land, in the area of our village, together with Salem Yusef Muhammad Jabarin, 23. We were about 100 meters from the electricity poles that mark the border of the Avigail settlement./>

A bit before 9:00, we saw five young men leave the settlement and walk toward us. One of them had his face covered and four of them had pistols. When they were about 50-60 meters away, they started running toward us. I realized they were going to attack us but we couldn't run away, because they were already close. Salem and I stood where we were. When they reached us, they started kicking the sheep and throwing stones at them. A few minutes later, four more settlers came.

One setter from the first group grabbed a sheep and pushed it to the ground, kicking it and stepping on it. Salem pushed him away from the sheep, and then the other four settlers from the first group attacked him. One of them pushed Salem and knocked him to the ground, and then the others joined in. They kicked and beat him. When he tried to get up, they knocked him down again and beat him. When I saw what they were doing to Salem, I went to help. I grabbed one of the settlers and pulled him away from Salem. Then the settlers left him and jumped on me. One of them pushed me hard, knocking me to the ground, and another one kicked me hard on the right side of my body. From far away, the second group of settlers was throwing stones at us and at the sheep.

While we were being beaten, my brother ‘Issa, 12, arrived and saw what was happening. One of the settlers pushed him, frightening him, and he ran away. Later, I learned that he went to tell our father what was happening.

After about ten minutes, Salem and I managed to get up and head home. The five settlers from the first group followed us, throwing stones at the sheep. Once in a while they would stop and kick the sheep, knock them to the ground and step on them. The second group of settlers remained where they stood.

Then we saw people from the village, including women and children, walking toward us. The settlers were still alongside us. The people from the village tried to block their way, and when we got to the village, they threw stones to frighten them. The settlers stopped harassing the sheep, but then they went the tent that our family uses as a kitchen and threw the utensils there onto the floor. When they left, they tried to enter our home, but my father and others blocked their way. They also tried to enter other tents. When they saw that more people were coming, they left and went to the four settlers who were waiting at the place where they had attacked us. Then they all returned to the settlement. It was about noontime.

Salem had bruises on his left hand and my left hand was scratched. One of the sheep that had been hit by the settlers remained in the field, and later we brought it back. Another sheep, which had injured in the leg, died two days ago.

From the beginning of the incident, we tried to contact the police. Salem tried to call them during the attack itself, and my father tried later. He told me that he had called the police a lot of times, but that the conversation was cut off each time. Ziad Yusef a-Najar, a resident of our village, called Nasser a-Nawaj'ah [the coordinator of B'Tselem's video-camera project in the southern Hebron hills] and asked him to call the police./>

Around 1:00 P.M., a police van and an army jeep of the Civil Administration pulled up. I told the two policemen and one policewoman about the attack. At first, they didn't believe me and said I was lying. My father and Salem told them that they had filmed some of the events on their mobile phones and somebody from the Civil Administration saw the videos. Only then did they believe us. They asked me and Salem to go to the police station in Kiryat Arba to file a complaint. The next day, we went and filed our complaints, and on Tuesday we went so ‘Issa could give a statement.

Although we were injured, we didn't go to the hospital or to a doctor, both because of the distance and because we weren't badly injured.
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Khalil Ishaq Mahmud Abu 'Aram, 21, is single, a shepherd, and lives in Shu'b al-Buttom, Hebron District. The testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash on 8 July 2009 at the witness's home.