Palestinians Say Troops Tracking Missing Goats Searched Their Homes Illegally

Soldiers searching a Palestinian village for stolen goats allegedly broke a housholder's nose, while settlers stoned local people, villagers said.

Ten soldiers accompanied by a resident of one of the settlements in the southern Mount Hebron area searched homes in neighboring Al-Tawani village there. Military sources told Haaretz that the object of the search were goats the settler claimed were stolen from him. Residents said a soldier punched Fadi Rabaii, a villager who demanded to see a search warrant. Rabaii, 41, was taken to the hospital where his nose was found to be broken.

As the search took place about 20 Israelis, who appeared to have come from nearby settlements, gathered near the village.

According to villagers the Israelis threw stones at local people and then at passers by on a nearby road. As the residents congregated to try and stop the search operation, which they said was being carried out without a warrant, soldiers tried to disperse them by firing teargas grenades at short range.

One villager told Haaretz that only when police arrived did the soldiers try to drive the settlers away.

The residents of Al-Tawani have complained for years about abuse by local settlers. The village children have to be escorted to school by a frequently delayed military convoy to protect them from the settlers. Villagers said they are also attacked in fields and olive trees have been uprooted by unknown offenders several times over the past year.

Christian Peace Teams volunteers have documented such incidents. The settlements closest to the village are Maon and the Havat Maon outpost. Elsewhere, settlers near Susia attacked a group of activists from Rabbis for Human rights, team members told Haaretz.

The four activists were patrolling the area when they were called over by a Palestinian resident who wanted them to see settlers herding livestock on his field.

When the team arrived at the scene the settlers were no longer in the field itself and a police vehicle was on the spot. The activists began taking video pictures of Israeli shepherds and the settlers approached them and tried to grab the camera. In the ensuing scuffle the camera was broken, the activists said.

Settlers filed a complaint against one of the team members, while the Palestinian resident was taken to a police station to file a complaint.