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Terrorism & Security

Israeli settlers' attack on Palestinian family captured on video

The recording's release comes as the UN Security Council prepares to discussa resolution demanding the halt of Israeli settlement construction.

By / June 13, 2008

A Palestinian family's brutal beating by Israeli settlers has been captured on video and aired just a week before the UN Security Council is set to consider a resolution condemning construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

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The BBC reports that the video, recorded last Sunday, shows four men attacking an elderly shepherd, his wife, and his nephew after the four told the shepherd to move his flock, which was grazing near the settlement of Susia in the West Bank. The BBC describes the film, which is available on its website:

Over the brow of the hill walk four masked men holding baseball bats. To the right of the screen, in the foreground, stands a 58-year-old Palestinian woman.
Thamam al-Nawaja has been herding her goats close to the Jewish settlement of Susia, near Hebron in the southern West Bank.
Within a few seconds, she, along with her 70-year-old husband and one of her nephews, will be beaten up.
As the first blows land, the woman filming - the daughter-in-law of the elderly couple - drops the camera and runs for help.

The BBC writes that Mrs. Nawaja was hospitalized for three days after the attack with a broken arm and fractured cheek. After returning home, she told the BBC that her attackers "don't want us to stay on our land. But we won't leave. We'll die here. It's ours." Agence France-Presse reports that an Israeli police spokesperson says an investigation has been opened, but no arrests have been made.

The International Middle East Media Center, a joint media effort between Palestinian and international journalists, reports that "Attacks by extremist Israeli Jewish settlers against the indigenous Palestinian population of the West Bank are common, and the incidents have increased as Israeli settlements have expanded on Palestinian land over the last 15 years."

The recording of this particular attack was made possible by the "Shooting Back" project launched by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. On its website, B'Tselem writes that by handing out more than 100 video cameras to Palestinian families in the West Bank, it hopes to provide them with a tool to prove illegal abuses they suffer at the hands of settlers.

Citizen journalism – a phenomenon that has garnered much attention of late – is particularly relevant in the context of the Israeli occupation, in which various types of abuse occur on a frequent basis and impact the daily lives of Palestinians. The ever-present violations of human rights constitute the mundane, ongoing reality of military occupation and settler enterprise, and are too often overlooked.
B'Tselem also uses this footage as a powerful tool for filing complaints with the army and the police, and as supporting evidence in court cases. In the West Bank, victims of abuse by settlers or soldiers are often discouraged from lodging complaints by weighty bureaucratic obstacles. B'Tselem now uses video as one way to promote accountability and seek legal redress for Palestinian complainants.

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