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Umm Safa

Especially horrifying events might make one forget the more routine kind. The violent suppression of Friday, July 17th’s protest demonstration at the Palestinian village of Umm Safa, which ended with the murder of 17-years-old Hamoudi, is merely a climax of ongoing violence that has always been present there, and has exacerbated during the recent month, when colonist Tzvi decided to erect an outpost on the villagers’ land.

Says Faez, a villager:

“Everything going on here is because of one person, Tzvi. He used to live a bit further away, near the colony of Halamish, and then one day he decided to erect a tent here and bring his cattle along. Since then, for a month now our people cannot enter their own fields and olive tree groves.

Once they took down his tent and the soldiers said everything would be alright. Telling us this is like giving us sedatives. The next day, at 8:30 a.m., he and his cattle were here again. The cattle eat the trees.

No one can tell them to leave. The army is with them. Did you see how they incinerated a house here a month ago? One of the people who did this was a soldier. Ever since, we never sleep at the same time at home. Someone always stays awake to keep watch.

The windows in Faez’ home are smashed. The garden is beautiful and filled with plants and flowers, but the synthetic lawn is full of black holes.

The house is exactly opposite the spot from which the soldiers throw stun and teargas grenades at the demonstrators. About 40-50 such bombs have exploded on our house. That’s why it’s ruined. My neighbor’s daughter runs to hide under the bed every time she hears shooting or bombing. My house has often been invaded. They say they’re looking for arms and enter. Once they broke the door. I placed a new lock. After being broken twice, I no longer place a lock. I had large loudspeakers on the roof. During one of the invasions, soldiers simply pushed them off the roof, from the third floor. Just like that.

There are two entrances to the village. They used to put up a checkpoint at one of them. About a year ago, when the soldiers saw young men, they ordered them down on the ground and beat them up. At the second entrance, when they put up a checkpoint, they would ask the passersby to take off their clothes. They said it was in order to make sure they were not carrying arms. What kind of armed person comes to a checkpoint with soldiers?

And after all of this, they still call us terrorists."

While Faez speaks, there is a protest demonstration going on outside. Explosions sound the whole time. His 2-years-old grandson is frightened and approaches his grandmother, looking confused and frightened. “It’s not the army” she tells him, to calm him down. The conversation is cut by terrible screams sounding after one of the explosions. Two people have been shot outside, one in the belly, the other in the head. The village boys and medics carry him urgently to the parking lot, shouting for an ambulance. “Make way!”.

Between the site of shooting and the parking lot is a trail of blood dozens of meters long. The medics’ and boys’ hands too are filled with blood. Dozens of people are in the parking lot, all screaming as loud as they can. The wounded men are placed inside a car and it speeds off to a Ramallah hospital.

The soldiers are still inside the village. Shouts at one of them are heard: “You just shot a boy in the head!” He begins to laugh and takes photos of the shouting men with his personal phone. Within a short while we learn that Hamoudi is dead.

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