Early in the evening, while the stubborn sunlight still flooded the Shabbat day, a group of teenagers departed Shadmot Mehola. Being masked and armed with clubs and iron rods - their intentions were clear. They went out to attack, and they attacked. They jumped the Palestinian shepherd and the three Israelis who accompanied him, tried to kidnap the flock, and completed their Holy Sabbath "Mitzvah" by beating the shepherd up with the iron rod. They broke his arm.
So much for the incident that resulted in the arrival of military and police forces, as well as an ambulance, at the scene. Hence are important details brought forth by Gali Hendin and Amir Pansky, two of the attacked escorts:
1. Shadmot Mehola: The attackers definitely arrived from Shadmot Mehola. It is a long-standing and calm settlement, allegedly considered to be consensual, unlike the new violent settlement communities. Its population showed no sign of raising a younger generation in the likes of the messianic hilltop youth. Such an attack to emerge from this community clearly marks a change for the worse.
2. Conduct of the security forces: The settlement's head of security, Menachem Tzur, watched the incident from a safe distance the whole time. He could have put an end to it at any point. He saw the youngsters go up the hill and saw them returning to the settlement, but he didn't lift a finger. It wasn't until the police and army arrived that he joined in, and when asked who he was, he replied: "I'm a paramedic on call."
The female soldiers who arrived asked: "What happened before that?" Doubting the escorts' report. The policemen instructed the escorts to file a complaint with the police - as if the shepherd had lost his wallet on some rock or something like that. Policemen who police nothing! Whose services are for settlers only! Every Israeli knows what would have happened should a Palestinian was to injure a settler in the field. It was, therefore, no surprise to see the police and army simply go, just as they came, leaving behind the vast desert to bear silent witness as the violence continued to echo in the distant dry wind. Despite the attempts of the escorts to stir the law enforcement's interest by indicating that the assault weapon - the iron rod – was still there, near the beaten up Palestinian who was still lying on the ground groaning in pain. The officers nodded and said they would take care of the evidence. They ordered them not to touch it, yet left without taking it, or calling for a forensic team.
3. The Israeli ambulance and its crew provided the wounded man with care. Since they were not allowed to pass through Shadmot Mehola on their way to the clinic in Tubas, they were forced to go through long, rough, and rocky dirt roads - due to the presence of an injured Palestinian in the ambulance. Needless to say (or is it?) the injuries were at the hands of attackers from that same settlement.
4. Amir Pansky telephoned Jordan Valley Council Director David Elhayani after the incident to report it. Elhayani responded with a verbal attack and accusations. He said he is aware of all that goes on in the area and concluded by saying that it is the escorts who are the warmongers and inciters. "When you don't arrive," he added, "everything is calm and quiet." The facts, in contradiction to this foul claim, are that just the day before, that same shepherd was attacked by rioters from Shadmot Mehola when he took his herd to the pasture - unaccompanied.
Well, this is what actually happened in the Jordan Valley early Saturday night. The photos show the occupation and its terrible deeds, which, even when masked, are evident.
Photos: Amir Pansky