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From Ma’an News Agency on Friday 20 June: …”Israeli forces used a new kind of weapon capable of firing 30 tear gas bombs at once, and dozens of demonstrators suffered from gas inhalation … Tear gas bombs fired by the Israeli soldiers also set a grove of olive trees on fire, burning about ten trees. Israeli soldiers also used another weapon known as ‘the scream’, which they had used three years ago in Bil’in. This weapon makes a terrible sound that affects the middle ear, causing people who hear it to lose balance and fall to the ground. Bil’in residents have held non-violent protests against the Israeli separation wall each week for over three years. In 2007, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in favor of the villagers and ordered the Israeli army to dismantle a segment of the wall so that villagers would regain access to some of their lands. The Israeli army has yet to re-route the wall in the village, refusing to comply with the Court’s order for ‘security reasons’.” The full news report can be read here .

Kristallnach in Al-Funduq

Gideon Levy, the brilliant columnist for Haaretz who regularly denounces the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and lives, wrote last week about an attack by settlers on a Palestinian village after a settler was shot and killed on a nearby road. Levy’s article highlights reports that the Israeli Defense Forces solders not only did not interfere to stop the settler attack on the Palestinian villagers — the IDF personnel present actively assisted.

Levy writes: “The head of the local council, Omar Jaber, presents a report: damage to marble – NIS 111,000; to cars – NIS 76,000; to homes – NIS 6,000; to shops – NIS 10,000. He claims that 16 cars, 15 homes, 15 shops and two marble factories were damaged on the night of November 24. It is almost certain that nobody will compensate them for these hostile acts. Now just fear, fury and frustration remain in peaceful Al Funduq, which paid the price for the killing of settler Ido Zoldan, 29, a resident of Shavei Shomron, who was shot on the road that passes through the village five nights earlier. On that Saturday night, hundreds of settlers stormed Al Funduq under the protection of Israel Defense Forces soldiers – who, according to testimony, even assisted in the destruction – and rioted in the village that was under curfew. Two days later it was reported that Israeli security forces had caught the gang suspected of killing Zoldan: three members of the Palestinian National Security organization, from Kadum. Last week the settlers went there, too.
The group of young settlers recently took over an abandoned Palestinian house overlooking the road leading to Al Funduq, and painted it pink. But the sight on that road, which passes below the rogue outpost of Shvut Ami, is not at all rosy: It is strewn with stones that the settlers now throw at Palestinian cars that use it. The terrifying IDF bulldozer that creeps slowly along the road is supposed to use the massive rocks in its maw to block off the villages in the area – not the outpost, of course. That is Israeli justice. About 500 people live in Al Funduq. It is a village that has not suffered any casualties and is almost without prisoners in Israeli jails – only stonemasons, grocers and garages that serve the settlers in the area. Five days after Zoldan was killed the village was under total curfew. Afterward, for another eight days, it was put under nighttime curfew. The settlers have to be appeased, don’t they? Zakariyah Asade, coordinator of field activities for the Rabbis for Human Rights organization, who lives in the neighboring village of Jit, says that the soldiers illuminated the area with their flashlights for the settlers, so that they could sow their destruction more easily. ‘They showed them where to break things’, says Asade. ‘One thing is as sure as the sun that rises in the east: The settlers would not have entered without army protection‘, says Omar Shari, a resident of a neighboring village, who is doing infrastructure work in Al Funduq, and two of whose tractors were damaged during the rampage. ‘In places where there were cars standing in the dark or behind a wall, the army showed them the way and lit everything up for them‘ … It’s the army that allows the settlers to dominate … In Sakr Bari’s grocery store stands a settler in a large white skullcap, buying vegetables. Bari estimates the damage caused to him as a result of the curfew to be NIS 3,000. He has a notebook where he lists all the debts of the settlers who buy on credit. Usually they pay once every month or two, but NIS 34,000 are permanent debts, since the outbreak of the second intifada. Bari brings special kosher cans of corn and miniature carrots to his Jewish customers. Some of them, he believes, certainly participated in the night of rioting. Since then, only a few of his Jewish customers have returned. They come from all the settlements in the area: Kedumim, Shavei Shomron, Elon Moreh, Ariel, Emanuel, Karnei Shomron and Einav … Naama: ‘We were sleeping in the room; my husband wasn’t home. Suddenly I heard the settlers breaking the windows and trying to enter the house. The door was locked’. She quickly gathered her children from the spacious rooms and together they entered the bathroom, a cubicle at the end of the house, where they hid until things quieted down. They were there for over an hour. Naama’s cell phone was broken and she had no way of calling for help; finally her brother managed to get to the house and rescue her. Naama is crying now. ‘She still cries when she remembers’, says Akram. ‘Yesterday I told her, “Prepare food and we’ll sit the way we used to”, and she said she wasn’t able to do it’. When her brother Mohammed arrived at the house, it was surrounded by a large number of settlers, among them soldiers and policemen. In order to record the event, he activated the recording device on his cell phone, after realizing that he would not be able to photograph anything because of the blackout. Now he plays the recordings for us: ‘Erase this village – erase this house’, one can hear a woman screaming in Hebrew, in a hoarse voice. And then one hears the sound of blows. Mohammed says the intruders banged on the windows with their weapons, throwing stones at them, and that they also had sticks and iron poles in their hands. The soldiers and policemen stood by and watched. The woman continues to scream on the recording: ‘People of Funduq, pay attention: You will suffer, this village is erased. In blood and in fire, this village will be erased. Come out, come out of your homes’. The recording is lengthy and not everything is clear; occasionally one hears the honking of a car horn or the noise of a stun grenade. All this time Naama and her three children were in the bathroom, frightened. Before fleeing, the eldest daughter, Ishra, 14, saw the settler on the horse through the barred window of her room, banging on the windows. ‘Attention, policemen and soldiers’, the voice of the female settler can be heard again. ‘If you don’t provide a suitable response and don’t take this house down, you will be to blame for the next casualties’. Then, only then, can the sound of the policemen be heard, calling for all the Israelis to leave within five minutes. Naama and her three children were rescued unharmed [???] by her brother Mohammed, and spent the following days in the home of Naama’s parents in a neighboring village … The shattered panels in the Hashalom marble factory stand in a row. Fragments of marble are scattered everywhere. Majed Diab, the owner, estimates the damage to his factory at NIS 50,000. He lives in the stone house that rises above the factory; some of its window panes are still shattered. He stood on the balcony the entire time, that night, and says he saw the settlers smashing everything.
When a settler girl tried to destroy a marble panel and was unsuccessful, recalls Diab, the soldiers helped her. He saw it with his own eyes. What did he do? ‘Nothing’, he replies in embarrassment, his face covered with white dust, a pencil stuck behind his ear. He says the rampage continued until 11:30 P.M. He was on the roof, the settlers and the soldiers were in the square in front of the factory. The IDF spokesman, in reply to our query this week, ignored the question of whether the soldiers really helped the settlers, and stated: ‘During the course of the demonstration, mutual stone-throwing erupted between the settlers and the Palestinians, residents of the village. IDF forces, together with forces from the Border Police and Israel Police, dispersed the demonstrators. In addition, during the demonstration the forces arrested two settlers and two Palestinians who were rioting and throwing stones. The detainees were transferred to the Israel Police. It should be mentioned that the IDF is strongly opposed to illegal disturbances of the peace, and that the demonstration was not authorized by the military’.”
Gideon Levy’s report in Haaretz is posted here.