An Israel Defense Forces soldier hurled rocks on Tuesday at an Haaretz crew (the paper's photographer and correspondent) that was reporting on the dismantling of the temporary site that was intended to house residents of the West Bank village Khan al-Ahmar after their evacuation from their illegal encampment.
The rocks were hurled as Haaretz photographer Emil Salman started taking pictures of the dismantling of the site, and after he identified himself as the newspaper's photographer to a soldier at the site.
The soldier hurled five rocks, which did not hurt the crew and did not cause damage.
The IDF said the soldier “acted in violation of IDF values and what is expected from him. The incident will be investigated and dealt with by his commanders.”
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This reporter and the photographer were documenting the dismantling of temporary mobile homes in Azzariyeh, east of Jerusalem. The work began after a freeze was put into effect on Saturday on the evacuation of the Bedouin residents, due to their objections to moving to the new site.
The civilian contractor working at the site asked the Haaretz team to leave the site, and they moved to the nearby road. The soldiers from the IDF’s Etzion regional brigade who were guarding the site asked the team to identify themselves, and they did. These combat soldiers were not involved in the stone throwing incident.
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While Haaretz was photographing the site, two civilian employees approached them and cursed them. One of the men identified himself as an employee of the IDF’s Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, but the Civil Administration later denied he was an employee and said he was an outside contractor. A few minutes later, a soldier wearing uniform pants and a non-military shirt approached the Haaretz team and began throwing stones. The soldier hid behind one of the mobile homes at the site in an attempt to avoid being photographed, but he was photographed later.
The workers at the site were very tense because they had recently received threats from Palestinians in the area, including officials of the Palestinian Authority, which has opposed the construction of the alternate site for the residents of Khan al-Ahmar, said a source in the defense establishment.
The Defense Ministry and Civil Administration in the West Bank are continuing to dismantle the structures at the site, following several weeks of construction at the site near Azzariyeh. The freeze on the evacuation was approved this week by the security cabinet. Officially, the move was postponed because of the desire to reach an agreed-upon arrangement following talks with the villagers.
In recent weeks, as security forces prepared for a forced evacuation, major diplomatic pressure was exerted on Israel to abandon its plan, from the German government as well as from the chief prosecutor of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.