This is a testimony of A’, a 61 year old peace activist, who was beaten badly with clubs on his head and entire body by Jewish settlers during an olive harvest in the Palestinian village of Jalud; his ribs and several fingers were broken, and his camera and personal belongings were robbed:
“I told him: “Aren’t you ashamed? Why do you act violently? I’m old enough to be your father!”. As soon as these words came out of my mouth, I felt a blow to my head, followed by the feeling of blood gushing out of the wound. I fell to the ground and they continued to beat me with clubs. I yelled at the top of my voice: “Help! Someone stop this!”, but no one heard me.”
Last Friday we arrived at the Palestinian village of Jalud to participate in an olive harvest with a group of Palestinian farmers from the village. Joining us were a group of international peace activists and a group of members from a Palestinian agricultural cooperative from the Hebron area. We climbed a hill in order to begin with the harvest; it is about a kilometer from the village. We went to the terraces where the olive trees were – some ladders and a tractor which came before us to unload the equipment required for the harvest were already there.
No more than five minutes passed from the time of our arrival, when four or five masked Jewish settlers arrived on the scene, accompanied by an armed guard in civilian clothes. Except for the guard, they all covered their faces with cloths – all white except one who covered his face with a black cloth. Seeing the direction that they came from, I assumed that they came from the illegal Jewish outpost of Esh Kodesh (“Holy fire”).
Upon their arrival, I immediately started filming them. They started arguing with the Palestinian farmers and shouted: “Get out of here! This is our land!”, “You haven’t been here for 10 years, haven’t farmed the lands, now they belong to us”. A shouting match developed, but at that point it did not become anything more than that.
After the shouting ceased a bit, the farmers returned to the olive harvest. I continued filming, when suddenly I saw the armed guard and one of the masked men approaching me. I heard a sudden, loud explosion and I realized that one of them threw a shock grenade to where the people were harvesting. Immediately after the explosion I heard a round of shooting. At this point people started to disperse and I too began walking in the opposite direction. Stones were being thrown by both sides and the masked men started to cruelly beat the people left in the area. I distanced myself to about 20 meters from the area and went to a lower terrace, to avoid being in the range of the rocks being thrown, after I felt a rock hit my backpack. At this point I was about 50-60 meters away and quite far from the harvest area. In any case, everyone was already escaping in the direction of the village.
At this point three or four of the masked men approached me quickly. I was convinced that when they would realize I was an older man and that if I would identify myself as Israeli, nothing would happen. When they approached me, they initially thought I was Arab and told me: “Jib al-hawiya” (“Give your I.D”). I tried to tell them: “Calm down, guys, I’m Israeli, no need for violence”. At this point the man with the black cloth pulled my camera and tried to take it. I argued with him: “Aren’t you ashamed? Why do you act violently? I’m old enough to be your father!”. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I felt a blow to my head, followed by the feeling of blood gushing out of the wound. I fell to the ground and they continued to beat me with clubs. I yelled at the top of my voice: “Help! Someone stop this!”, but no one heard me.
The masked men managed to grab the stills camera from my hand, and took my backpack which had the video camera, cassettes and my glasses in it. When I tried to fight back to take my camera, I was again beaten, this time on my wrist. At this point they ran away with my belongings, while I was left bleeding and beaten, but with full consciousness and completely aware of my situation and of what had just happened. The truth is that at this point the actual beatings didn’t hurt as badly, and I was more worried about the amount of bleeding. In addition, I was completely in shock, and was in disbelief that this had just happened to me.
I got up and started running up the hill. On the way I met A’ and M’, who was also covered in blood, and I realized that she had been beaten by the masked men at the beginning, right after the shock grenade exploded. After we met, we started walking down the hill, towards the village, while tear gas grenades were falling all around us, shot from a military jeep which was parked under the hill. I believe a second jeep was firing at us from the left side of the hill; we saw this other jeep only later on.
“When we arrived at the edge of the field, close to the road which leads to the village, the second military jeep approached. It was a border police jeep with the word “Police” on it, and it stopped about 20 meters from us. E’ or A’ yelled: “Come help us, there are wounded people here!”. A soldier emerged from the jeep, I was sure he was coming to help us. But instead, he walked to the back of the jeep, extracted a tear gas grenade and shot it at us.”
Somehow, between the falling grenades, we managed to get of the hill and we stopped about 50 meters from the military jeep. A’, who was with us, kept yelling at the IDF soldiers to stop firing at us and that people were wounded – but they just kept firing. When we arrived at the edge of the field, close to the road which leads to the village, the second military jeep approached. It was a border police jeep with the word “Police” on it, and it stopped about 20 meters from us. E’ or A’ yelled: “Come help us, there are wounded people here!”. A soldier emerged from the jeep, I was sure he was coming to help us. But instead, he walked to the back of the jeep, extracted a tear gas grenade and shot it at us. The grenade fell about five meters from us, but the wind was blowing in the other direction and the Palestinians told us to stay where we were and let the gas blow in the other direction. At this point I was continuing to bleed from the wound in my head and one of the Palestinians tied his kaffiyah (head cloth) around my head in order to stop the bleeding. M’, who was standing next to us, was also bleeding profusely.
After the gas blew away, we continued walking towards the village and A’ hurried forward in order to bring his vehicle from the village. We entered his car and M’, H’ and I drove to look for the Palestinian ambulance which was in the village. The ambulance took us to the clinic in the Palestinian village of Qablan, where they disinfected our wounds, cleaned the blood and the Palestinian paramedic instructed me to call Madah (Israeli emergency medical services) and to call an ambulance for ourselves. We called, and Madah instructed us to reach the Tapuach junction and that the ambulance would be waiting for us there.
When we arrived at the Tapuach junction, we waited for some time before the military ambulance arrived. An Israeli police car arrived with it and the policeman started to ask questions about what happened. The military paramedic tried to speed up the questioning, so the policeman came on to the ambulance with us in order to continue with the questioning until we arrived to the Ariel junction. The policeman, accompanied by an officer, followed us in a car to the Ariel junction and informed us that an investigator had already been sent to the area of Esh Kodesh to investigate. One of the policemen said that after we receive medical treatment, they will contact us to continue collecting our testimonies. From there we were evacuated to Belinson hospital in the Madah (= Israeli) ambulance.