rights worker viciously attacked
by Jewish extremists in Hebron
November 18th, 2006
by ISM Hebron, November 18
UPDATE, November 21: Tove is still in hospital where she will remain for the
next few days before returning to Sweden to receive ongoing treatment there. As
well as a broken cheekbone Tove has a fractured skull and damage to her eye
muscles. A complaint was filed with the police in Kiryat Arba where eye-witness
statements and photo evidence was submitted. However, according to a report by
Israeli human rights group Yesh Din 90% of complaints filed against Israelis to
the “Samaria and Judea District” police were closed without indictments being
A 19-year old Swedish human rights worker had her cheekbone broken by a Jewish
extremist in Hebron today. Earlier the same day at least five Palestinians,
including a 3-year-old child, were injured by the settler-supporting extremists,
who rampaged through Tel Rumeida hurling stones and bottles at local residents.
Palestinian schoolchildren on their way home were also attacked. The Israeli
army, which was intensively deployed in the area, did not intervene to stop the
Tove Johansson from Stockholm walked through the Tel Rumeida checkpoint with a
small group of human rights workers (HRWs) to accompany Palestinian
schoolchildren to their homes. They were confronted by about 100 Jewish
extremists in small groups. They started chanting in Hebrew “We killed Jesus,
we’ll kill you too!” — a refrain the settlers had been repeating to
internationals in Tel Rumeida all day.
After about thirty seconds of waiting, a small group of very aggressive male
Jewish extremists surrounded the international volunteers and began spitting at
them, so much so that the internationals described it as “like rain.” Then men
from the back of the crowd began jumping up and spitting, while others from the
back and side of the crowd kicked the volunteers.
The soldiers, who were standing at the checkpoint just a few feet behind the
HRWs, looked on as they were being attacked.
One settler then hit Tove on the left side of her face with an empty bottle,
breaking it on her face and leaving her with a broken cheekbone. She immediately
fell to the ground and the group of Jewish extremists who were watching began to
clap, cheer, and chant. The soldiers, who had only watched until this point,
then came forward and motioned at the settlers, in a manner which the
internationals described as “ok… that’s enough guys.”
The extremists, however, were allowed to stay in the area and continued watching
and clapping as the HRWs tried to stop the flow of blood from the young woman’s
face. Some, who were coming down the hill even tried to take photos of
themselves next to her bleeding face, giving the camera a “thumbs-up” sign.
At this point, a HRW was taken into a police van and asked to identify who had
attacked the group. The HRW did this, pointing out three Jewish extremists who
the police took into their police vehicles. However, the extremists were all
driven to different areas of the neighborhood and released nearly immediately.
When one of the three was released on Shuhada Street, the crowd that was still
celebrating the woman’s injuries applauded and cheered.
A settler medic came to the scene about 15 minutes after the attack and
immediately began interrogating the internationals who had been attacked about
why they were in Hebron. He refused to help the bleeding woman lying on the
street in any way.
Five minutes after the settler medic arrived, the army medic arrived and began
treating the injured woman. When she was later put on a stretcher, the crowd
again clapped and cheered.
Police officers at the scene then began threatening to arrest the remaining HRWs
if they did not immediately leave the area, even though they had just been
The injured woman was taken to Kiryat Arba settlement and then to Hadassah Ein
Keren hospital in Jerusalem.
HRWs were later told by the police that they had not even taken the names of
those who were identified as having attacked the HRWs and that one of the main
assailants had simply told the police that he was due at the airport in two
hours to fly back to France.
The incident was the latest attack by extremist Jews in Hebron. The small group
of Khannist settlers in Tel Rumeida regularly attack and harass Palestinians in
the area. The violence sometimes spills over to the international human rights
workers who accompany Palestinians in an attempt to protect them from settler
The settlers in Tel Rumeida encourage Jewish tourists to come to support them,
as a way of making up for their small numbers. Today, hundreds had come from
tours in Israel for a special event — many from overseas: France, England and
the United States.
For more details and photos contact:
Tove - 054 747 9225
ISM media office 02 2971824 or 059 943 157
Clarified and expanded November 20.
of Hate: a journal entry on attacks in Hebron
November 20th, 2006
Posted in Journals,
Hebron Region by aspiringnomad, November 20th
His panic-stricken little face lights up
when he receives the information that we’ll escort him home, sending him
skipping merrily down the road on an errand to buy potatoes. This is the
Palestinian Authority controlled area of Hebron, and as we cross through Tel
Rumeida checkpoint to the other side in order to wait for the Palestinian boy’s
return, we soon discover the source of his fear.
We are confronted by around 100
ultra-orthodox Jews, who are gathered in Hebron to mark ‘Hebron day’, one of
whom shouts “You know that Jesus is gay?”. None of us really react to this
arbitrary taunt, however it does serve to focus the crowd’s attentions squarely
on our small group of human rights workers. Another shouts “What are you doing
“Tourists” I reply, believing this to be
the safest response under the circumstances. The crowd then begins chanting in
Hebrew “We killed Jesus, we’ll kill you too!” — we are quickly designated the
‘other’. The mob mentality takes on an oppressive and ugly turn; now almost a
single entity justifying almost any excess as long as it is directed towards the
‘other’. The crowd edges forward “You love Palestinians” one of them shouts,
spitting in a human rights worker’s face.
The first stone had been cast: saliva
rains down on us and people jump above one another to be able to deliver their
contempt. We are shoved and kicked repeatedly, and even though it is apparent
that events are spiraling dangerously out of control, the soldiers who are
standing just a few feet behind us at the checkpoint choose to look on
impotently as the attacks intensify.
A man lunges from the crowd, smashing
Tove, a 19 year old Swedish girl across the face with a bottle. She immediately
collapses to the ground clutching her bloodied face in horrified terror. At this
point the soldiers come forward and motion at the settlers, in a “ok… that’s
enough guys…” motion, amid clapping, cheering and chanting from the crowd.
As Tove lay on the hard concrete floor,
blood oozing from her wounds the crowd re-groups, fed by curiosity and growing
in energy “We killed Jesus, we’ll kill you too!” I now felt a growing sense of
apprehension as awareness dawned of the mob’s evil intent and the soldiers’
unwillingness to intervene in any meaningful way.
A religiously dressed Orthodox Jew then
adds insult to injury by posing with a thumbs-up gesture over Tove’s bloodied
face. The sight of this was so obnoxiously contemptuous I never gave the guy the
satisfaction he sadistically craved by taking his picture. The decision as to
whether I should have taken that picture has been discussed over and over by
people I know, though I feel the impact of sharing that disgusting image I have
etched in my mind, can serve no purpose other than that of breeding hatred.
The police arrived and an American girl
who witnessed the event was taken into a police van and asked to identify who
had attacked our group. Meanwhile the remaining police were telling me and
another Englishman that if we didn’t move away from the scene we would be
arrested as we were blocking the street. We remained.
A Jewish settler medic came to the scene
about 15 minutes after the attack and immediately began asking us why we were in
Hebron, telling us pointedly we had no right to be there. He refused to help
Tove as she lay bleeding in the street .
Eventually Tove was helped onto a
stretcher by some soldiers, amid jeers and clapping from the crowd. We escorted
the stretcher through the jeering crowd to a military vehicle in which Tove and
a close friend were transported to the hospital in Jerusalem.
As I walked back down the street I
witnessed the police open the door of a van and release one of the attackers.
Upon seeing this the crowd then began jubilantly celebrating his release. We
were later told by the police that they had not even taken the names of those
who were identified as having attacked us, and that one of the main assailants
had simply told the police that he was due at the airport in two hours to fly
back to France.
Two Englishmen and I then spent another
half an hour or so escorting Palestinian women and children from the checkpoint
to their homes. In doing so it is our aim to protect the Palestinians in such
situations by deflecting the attention and hate away from them.
It was getting dark but the streets were
still busy. We escorted one group of three boys, the oldest of whom was 9 or 10.
We were followed closely along the street by a dozen or so Orthodox Jews who
hissed and berated the Palestinian boys in Arabic with obscenities I am grateful
of not understanding. “You like protecting the animals?”, they taunted us in
English — “Nazis!”.
We reached some steps and turned off the
main street and began to climb, the little boys nervously glancing back to see
if we would be pursued. A couple of hundred metres further on the older boy made
it clear they were OK to continue alone now. I asked the oldest boy if they were
sure, he forced a smile and shrugged his soldiers in defiance as if to say “no
problem this stuff happens every day”. He seemed so strong, but as I put my hand
on his shoulder and looked into his teary eyes they gave out another message and
I saw pain and fear.
I wanted to tell him that the world
wasn’t really like this. But for him and the people of Tel Rumeida it is.
Earlier in the day at least five
Palestinians, including a 3-year old child, were injured by Jewish settlers, who
rampaged through Tel Rumeida hurling stones and bottles at local residents.
Palestinian schoolchildren on their way home were also attacked. The Israeli
“Defense” Force, which was intensively deployed in the area, did not intervene
to stop the settlers.