Von Ziona Snir
Übersetzt von George Malent
Last Saturday about 50 people from different organizations and a number of unaffiliated individuals went to the village council of Funduq in order to hear about the events that have occurred in the village since the murder of the settler on the highway that passes the village.
When we came we saw soldiers stationed on the highway. We told them the reason for which we were coming and we continued on our way.
We were hosted by the council head, several council members, and village residents in the new council building – the construction of which was paid for by an American organization.
Over the course of the meeting we also learned of the complete control to which the villagers’ lives are subjected, above and beyond recent events.
A council member described to us what had transpired.
On 19 November at 8:00 in the evening, hundreds of settlers streamed into the village accompanied by soldiers, and they began to conduct a pogrom that lasted until 1:00 in the morning. Not one of the villagers’ cars was left without a smashed window. The settlers slashed dozens of tires, threw stones into houses and shattered windows, and also tried to break into houses. A number of people were struck by stones, but they were unable to get help because who whoever went out the doors of their houses encountered a soldier, who threatened him to shoot them if they did not immediately go back into their houses. The settlers also harmed animals and broke pipes, so that floods occurred in various places in the village.
All this was done with the help of soldiers who are supposedly entrusted with the preservation of law and order in the Territories.
In the meantime, soldiers were also stationed at checkpoints at all the exits from the village.
After the councillor spoke, we heard harrowing testimony from other villagers about the violence and the terror that they had experienced.
Below are the accounts of some of them:
“The settlers threw stones into my apartment. My wife was seriously hurt by a stone that went into our apartment. I decided to defend us and I began to throw things at the rioters. The result was that I was detained for two days.”
“In the evening, at the hour when all my children normally gather in the house, a stream of settlers suddenly arrived near our house. We hastened to lock the doors, they tried to break into the house. Fortunately for us the doors were locked, so they only threw stones and shattered windows. Whoever wanted to leave the house came across a soldier, who said to him: go back in or I’ll shoot you. My nephew who tried to defend himself was arrested”.
“A few kilometres from here I have a large marble-works. Even the settlers buy marble from me to build their houses. Settlers along with soldiers broke into my factory. One of the soldiers lit the way with a flashlight, and directed them towards the marble so they could smash it. I heard them saying to the settlers: break it, but do it carefully. Don’t endanger people’s lives. A young settler, age 16, was unable to break the marble that she was “working on”. The soldier that was beside her said: ‘I’ll help you’, and smashed the most expensive marble that I had in the business. The harm to my business – half a million shekels. Only towards one in the morning did the Central Unit [of the Israeli police] arrive, and removed the settlers from there. But since then settlers keep coming every night. I cannot get to the place.”
Over the course of the meeting the guests asked many questions, especially regarding photographs that could serve as evidence. It turned out that at the time it was very difficult to photograph, both because of the lack of good cameras and because the terrified residents were afraid that they would shoot anyone who produced a camera. Nevertheless, there are photos from the days after the big pogrom, that were taken both by local residents and by people who came from outside.
Afterwards began a discussion regarding the quality of the aid that we could provide. It was proposed that all possible avenues should be explored. Among the attendees were Nora Rash and Yehudit Avidor, who are also members of “Yesh Din” [an Israeli human rights organization that focuses on legal issues in the Occupied Territories ]. Npra Rash announced that if anyone is prepared to testify, “Yesh Din” is prepared to record their statements for the purpose of pressing charges (two statements have already been taken in the week that passed; also, efforts will be made to contact the press, to publish on the Internet, on the “Panet” website, and meanwhile everyone will speak to people in their immediate surroundings. In addition two clinical psychologists from among the guests offered their help to those who felt they had been harmed by the trauma.
The immediate operative decision was that the council would convene for about 10 minutes and formulate its needs, and then people would break up into work groups in order to come up with concrete ideas for assistance.
The councillors withdrew to consult among themselves, and returned with a long list of needs, that was presented in a translation by Zakaria Sadeh.
The guests broke up into groups, on the basis of their volunteering interests or on the basis of their abilities. It was decided that every group would formulate proposals for concrete assistance.
It was decided that the Funduk council head would be the coordinator for the local residents, and Yaakov Manor for the Israelis.
The list of requests compiled by the local residents also included requests that are not directly connected to the pogrom. There was a request to help them in marking a crosswalk. As you know, the main road from Qalqilya to the eastern West Bank passes through the village, and vehicles pass through at great speed. Two weeks ago a child was killed there. The council wanted to mark a crosswalk, but it seems that it is not authorized to make such a decision. They are obliged to request permission from the army. And in fact they did appeal to the Office of Coordination and Liaison at Kedumim, but the army did not give permission.
I have related here nothing but the facts without commentary; but the army’s collaboration with the pogrom is distressing, and constitutes an extension of what was expressed in detail by many of those who spoke in the film “A Million Bullets in October”. Local commanders holding the rank of brigade commander, battalion commander, company commander or lower arrogate to themselves unlimited authority. And if they are sympathetic to the settlers, or long for “action”, hair-raising consequences ensue. These accounts also illustrate the degree of control that the army exercises over the daily lives of the residents. The council’s hands are tied even from taking minimal measures for the safety of the residents.