At least four activists from the Israeli-Palestinian anti-occupation group Ta'ayush were attacked Saturday in the South Hebron Hills. The activists were documenting illegal construction in the unauthorized Jewish outpost of Mitzpe Yair.
According to the Israeli police, settlers are suspected of the attack and an investigation is accordingly being opened. Four activists were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, suffering from bruised ribs, arms and ankles, and have since been released from the hospital.
According to the activists, they arrived Saturday at the Mitzpe Yair outpost in order to photograph illegal construction there. The activists report that when they arrived at the site, at least ten settlers attacked them and threw them to the ground. Activist Guy Butavia said he estimated 15 people attacked them, and that the settlers threw stones at them. Since the area is a construction site, the activists reported that they were hurt by iron pipes that were present on the ground.
The activists were carrying cameras and documented the incident, but the attackers stole their six cameras, leaving the activists with no documentation of the incident itself. After the incident, the activists distributed photos taken by a B'Tselem fieldworker who lives in the area and who arrived at the scene after the attack.
In the photos, soldiers and first-aid personnel are seen evacuating the activists to ambulances. At least one of them is seen unable to walk during the evacuation.
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MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Saturday that she will appeal to the defense minister following the attack to request an "urgent and comprehensive investigation."
Rozin said that this is "more proof that the 'extremists on both sides' paradigm does not exist. Violence against left-wing activists has become routine, fueled by incessant incitement. Most of the security forces 'turn a blind eye' and the government is silent and continues with its incitement. The result is a violent attack on left-wing activists in the South Hebron Hills, which joins the violent attack on three civilians in the Kiryat Haim beach, who were attacked only because they are Arabs. It is no longer a slippery slope but a dangerous reality."
Earlier this month, the organization's activists were attacked in the South Hebron hills by a reserve soldier while escorting Palestinians to harvest olives. The soldier, who slapped the activists and tried to hit their camera, was suspended from operational activity following the incident.
For more than 15 years, Ta’ayush and activists from abroad have accompanied Palestinian farmers and shepherds in the South Hebron Hills when they go out to farm or herd their flocks, especially on Saturdays because of harassment and violence by settlers.
Yochai Damari, who heads the Hebron Mount regional council, said in response to Saturday's attach that "the activists of the anarchist Ta'ayush organization chose to disrupt the Shabbat peace of the residents of Mitzpe Yair, entering their private homes and filming there while violating a closed military zone order, all in order to create a provocation. Any person in their right mind would act to protect his home and his family and remove the invading criminals when they came into their house."
Damari also said that the activists faked their injuries in order to make headlines and that "every settlement they arrive at later suffers from burglaries, theft and massive Arab illegal construction."