A demonstration against the occupation of the Palestinian territories will be held today, Friday, August 31, in the South Hebron Hills. The protest was called after settlers from the area brutally attacked Israeli activists belonging to the peace group Ta’ayush last weekend. The activists were documenting illegal construction in the unauthorized Jewish outpost of Mitzpe Yair.
The activists arrived Saturday, August 25, at Mitzpe Yair outpost to photograph illegal construction there. They reported that upon their arrival at the site, at least ten settlers assaulted them, throwing them to the ground. Guy Butavia, who was among the Ta’ayush activists, estimated that 15 settlers began attacking them, throwing stones. The activists reported that they were subsequently beaten by the attackers with iron bars, which were scattered on the ground of this construction site. As a result of the attack, four Ta’ayush activists were hospitalized at the Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.
The activists were carrying cameras and documented the incident, but the attackers absconded with all six of their cameras, leaving the victims with no documentation of the incident itself. Following the incident, the activists distributed photos taken by a B’Tselem Palestinian fieldworker who lives in the area and who arrived at the scene after the attack.
The Ta’ayush organization issued a statement on its Facebook page saying that “Jewish terrorists from the Mitzpe Yair settlement attacked four members of our organization by throwing stones and bars at them… The soldiers present at the scene were too frightened to intervene.” The statement added, “We dread to think what would have happened if the activists were Palestinian”.
Earlier this month, activists from the organization were attacked by an Israeli reservist soldier while escorting Palestinians to harvest olives in the South Hebron Hills. For more than 15 years, Ta’ayush activists along with colleagues from abroad have accompanied Palestinian farmers and shepherds in the South Hebron Hills when the latter go out to farm or herd their flocks. These activities are conducted in particular on Saturdays in an attempt to avoid harassment and violence by settlers who ostensibly are observing a day of rest on the Jewish Sabbath; often, as in last week’s attack, to no avail.