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Affidavit No. 4526/2008

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Jamal Jamil Suleiman Abu-S'eifan, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 902605039, born on 8 September 1970, a bulldozer driver and a resident of the Wadi al-Husein area, Hebron city, Hebron Governorate, would like to declare the following:

I live in the area of Wadi al-Hussein, east of the city of Hebron. There are two blocks of very small, adjacent houses that belong to my family, who is also known by the family name of "Matariyya." These houses are located to the west of the settlement Kiryat Arba’. The closest house is only about eight metres away from the settlement
fence. My father and my uncle ‘Abd al-Hayy, bought the land on which our houses are built. Though very close to them, the land was outside the borders of the Hebron Municipality. In 1963, they built two houses on this land. Later, other small houses were annexed to these two houses, one of them north of the other, with my father’s house being the southern one and my uncle’s house the northern one. My father's nuclear family and the families of my married brothers live in the southern houses, though my father died about two and a half years ago. All together we are 19 family members, including nine children under the age of 13 years old. My uncle Abd al-Hayy’s nuclear family as well as the families of his married sons live in the northern houses, which are only about five metres from the southern houses. They number 49 family members, of whom 30 are children under the age of 18 years old.

In 1972, the settlement of Kiryat Arba' was expanded and reached the boundaries of our land and houses. Since then, we have been suffering from frequent settler attacks. We have filed hundreds of complaints against the settlers with the Israeli police. Despite this, the assaults have not stopped.

On 19 March 2007, settlers occupied a house belonging to the al-Rajabi family that is approximately 400 metres west of our housing block. They gave it the name "House of Peace." A small valley, in which several houses are located, separates us from this house. At about 2:30 pm on Thursday, 4 December 2008, the Israeli occupying forces began to evacuate the settlers from this house. At that time, I was in our house. I grabbed a video camera and went to my neighbour Majdi al-Ja'bari's house to film the evacuation, as his house faces the al-Rajabi house to the east, with the street running between them. In the minutes after the evacuation began, about 50 settlers gathered near the settlement fence, which they had previously cut, behind our houses.

About seven minutes after the evacuation began, my neighbour Majdi al-Ja'bari told me that the settlers had left the settlement of Kiryat Arba' and were gathered around the perimeter of our house. So I started filming what was going on around the house.

I saw and filmed two settlers, one of whom carried a pistol in his hand, as they approached the houses of my uncle and his children. Many of my uncle’s family members were on a balcony overlooking the al-Rajabi house, watching what was happening. From a distance of about eight metres, one of the settlers began throwing stones at my relatives on the balcony. The other settler got as close as three metres away and attempted to climb the balcony via a staircase that leads up to it. At that point, my cousin Husni, who is about 45 years old, repelled the settler and chased him away from the house waving his hands and threatening him. Following Husni in an attempt to drive the settler away were his father ‘Abd-al-Hayy, about 67 years old, and his two nephews who were visiting the family, Rashid Muhammad Yousef Ziyada, about 19 years old, and his brother Radwan, about 16 years old, along with his son Baha', 12 years old.

The settler carrying the pistol backed up about ten metres from the balcony stairs. There, from a distance of no more than one metre, the armed settler fired a bullet towards Radwan. However, the bullet missed him, passing  near his face. The settler immediately fired a second bullet, this time at my cousin Husni, also from a distance of only one metre. The bullet hit Husni in the chest and he fell to the ground. The settler then fired a third bullet towards Rashid, from a distance of about two metres, but it did not injure him.

Then, I saw the settler fire a shot towards my uncle. However, my uncle pushed him to the ground and dropped down on top of him. I stopped filming and immediately went back to my uncle and his children’s houses with the camera. As soon as I arrived there, a growing number of settlers had also arrived at the scene. I saw a number of settlers, including a settlement security guard wearing a special uniform, holding my uncle ‘Abd-al-Hayy beside the settler. The settler was also injured from stones which my relatives had thrown in order to repel him from the house and defend themselves. I also saw a settler kick my uncle’s wounded arm with his foot and throw three stones in his direction. Along with two other settlers, the settlement security guard standing near my uncle opened fire towards the houses. My brother Hisham, who is about 39 years old, along with the women of the family, including my cousin Fida', who is about 22 years old, and Hisham's wife, tried to rescue my uncle from the settlers. I filmed all of this from a distance of approximately 40 metres from my uncle.

One of the settlers, who had been firing an M16 automatic rifle, saw me filming. Hestepped nearly four metres towards me and fired at my feet, but did not injure me. I stopped filming for a few moments. Meanwhile, a settler had arrived, holding a pistol in his hand and driving an all-terrain vehicle of the kind which they call by the name “tractoron.” He approached me until he was about eight metres away, at which point  he screamed and fired seven bullets in my direction. As a preventive measure, I dropped down flat on the ground. Then, he left for the area where my uncle was located. His family members rescued my uncle from the settlers and the women of the family were gathered around him, trying to get him out of the area. The settler who drove the all-terrain vehicle stopped about four metres east of the group and opened fire, but did not wound anyone. The settler riding the all-terrain vehicle left northwards, heading back towards the settlement. While he was leaving, I resumed filming. I filmed both his departure and his return, as he sped back towards my injured uncle who was, as I noticed at the time, lying on the ground to rest a little. The settler was only about 20 centimetres away from my uncle and tried to run over him with the all-terrain vehicle. However, large rocks in front of him prevented him from doing so.

Neighbours arrived and helped my relatives transport my uncle to our neighbour Ghaleb al-Ja'bari's house, which is near the street, to wait for ambulances. My uncle stayed there next to his son Husni, who had been moved to the same house about 15 minutes before his father. At about 5:15 pm, both were transported from there to the hospital. When my uncle was moved to Ghaleb al-Ja'bari's house, settlers were still throwing stones and firing indiscriminately. After my uncle had been moved, I went to our neighbour Muhammad ‘Ali Nasr al-Ja'bari's house, about 200 metres west of my uncle's houses, to finish filming. Radwan Muhammad Ziyada followed me there. At about 3:10 pm, when I was in Muhammad ‘Ali Nasr al-Ja'bari's house, I saw settlers set fire to our neighbour Fadel al-Razem's house, which is only 12 metres northwest of my uncle and his children’s houses. They threw burning objects inside the house. Through the window they had broken, settlers threw a mattress into the house and set it on fire. I also saw settlers gather around al-Razem's house. They carried sticks, measuring about half a metre in length, that were wrapped on one end with pieces of cloth or sponge. Then, they dipped them into a flammable liquid, which they had in cans. Once they were burning, they threw the sticks inside Fadel al- Razem's house. Fadel’s family consists of six members, including four children.

Meanwhile, about ten press photographers and correspondents, most of whom if not all, were Israelis, gathered around al-Razem's house. A camera man from the press who was not standing close to his colleagues was taken by the settlers. A large number of masked settlers beat him and I saw them take his equipment from him. They assaulted him for about five minutes, but left him when two Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene. While I was in our neighbour Muhammad ‘Ali Nasr al-Ja'bari’s house, soldiers saw me filming. Consequently, the soldiers came into the house and examined the ID cards of all present. According to what a soldier told me, I was not allowed to film,
because the area was a closed  military zone. The soldiers left and locked the door on us from the outside with what seemed to be a metal wire. About five minutes after thesoldiers left, and in sight of them, dozens of settlers gathered around the house crowded with residents and threw stones at it. It became clear that the families of the
house owner's sons who lived nearby had come to the same house seeking protection. The settlers continued throwing stones at the house for about five minutes.

Then, I, along with other men in the house, forced open the door that the soldiers had locked from the outside and started to throw stones at the assailants. As we were leaving the house, a stone hit Nassar Muhammad ‘Ali al-Ja'bari, about 42 years old, in his left ear. Therefore, he went to Ghaleb al-Ja'bari's house, where my injured uncle and his son Husni were. Also, Nassar’s brother 'Adel, about 18 years old, sustained a wound to his right hand and broke his little finger. Thus, 'Adel followed his brother Nasser and went to Ghaleb al-Ja'bari's house as well. After a stone hit Radwan Muhammad Ziyada on the right side of his face, breaking a number of his teeth and damaging a silver dental bridge on his front teeth, he also went to Ghaleb al-Ja'bari's house.

Meanwhile, settlers attacked my uncle and his sons’ houses, my house, and my brothers’ houses. They climbed on the roofs of our houses as well as knocked down water tanks, satellite dishes and everything else present on our roof tops. They also set fire to a room in my uncle's house. His family members managed to extinguish the fire, which had already damaged furniture, including mattresses and a carpet. They burned the laundry that was hanging outside the bathroom in Husni's house and the settlers spread the fire inside the bathroom. They tried to burn down my brother Hisham’s house by throwing burning torches inside. I also saw individuals dressed in military uniform participating in the settlers’ attacks.

Later, I learned that the Hebron Municipality fire trucks had been denied access to extinguish the fires. I also learned later that the Israeli journalist Avi Zacharov from Haaretz newspaper, along with his colleague and other media photographers and correspondents, who had arrived to cover the events after the burning of al-Razem's house, sought protection in our houses. Some of them sustained wounds from the settlers' stones and one of them was injured in the head. These journalists contacted Israeli authorities, who dispatched Israeli Special Forces. A little while after 5:00 pm, Israeli forces drove the settlers away, back towards the settlement. I should note that
the settlers' attack on our houses and on all of those houses neighbouring ours took place while a large number of Israeli occupying security forces was deployed in the area. Israeli Special Forces had to intervene to provide protection to the Israeli journalists who were crowded inside our houses alongside my relatives.

At about 8:00 pm, settlers gathered again and attacked Sa'id Da'na's house. They threw torches and fired shots towards the house, causing external damage. They continued their attack there for about ten minutes until occupying security forces evacuated them from the area. At around 9:30 pm, the settlers came back and burned sofas which had been put behind my brother Hisham’s house. After that, the situation calmed down. Several days later, the occupying police announced that in light of video footage shot on the day of the al-Rajabi house evacuation which showed a soldier joining the settlers in stoning a Palestinian house and which showed another soldier throwing stones at an Israeli police officer who was evacuating settlers from the house, these soldiers were transferred to the Israeli Military Police.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 4526/2008
  • Field researcher: Hisham Sharabati
  • Affidavit Date: 18 December 2008
  • Name: Jamal Jamil Suleiman Abu-S'eifan
International Law Orientation Course, 26-28 November 2018
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