BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces arrested three teenage shepherds in the south Hebron hills on Friday after settlers complained to Israeli police that the boys had damaged a settlement fence, an international peace group said Saturday.
The boys, aged 14, 15, and 16, were grazing their sheep near at-Tuwani village, located opposite Maon settlement, when two settlers approached them in a car and began filming them, Operation Dove said.
Shortly afterwards, Israeli forces arrived in the area and arrested the boys, telling them that settlers had accused them of damaging the fence of a cherry tree field.
The boys were taken to Kiryat Arba police station.
An international observer accompanying the teenagers testified that they did not damage the fence.
Israeli police have issued a bail of 500 shekels ($135) for each teenager, which the boys’ parents say they will not pay on the grounds that there is not a valid reason for their arrest.
Israeli authorities have outlined plans to demolish and evacuate eight villages in the south Hebron hills area to make space for a military training zone.
Operation Dove released a Press Release
Israeli police arrested three Palestinian teenagers while grazing their sheep on Khelly hill, South Hebron Hills
At-Tuwani – In the morning of March 15, 2013 Israeli police arrested three minors, aged 16, 15 and 14 years old, on Khelly hill near the South Hebron Hills village of At-Tuwani. The officers acted after two Ma’on settlers accused the boys of damaging a fence of a cherry trees field.
The Palestinian boys were grazing their flocks on Khelly hill, near a cherry tree field of the nearby Ma’on settlement. At 9:40 am two settlers in a car approached the boys, videotaped them and drove off. At 10:30 am a police car arrived and an officer told the boys they were accused by the settlers of damaging the cherry tree field fence. The teenagers were taken to Kiryat Arba police station.
An international, who was accompanying the Palestinian boys during the incident, testifies that they did not damaged the fence. The teenagers are still detained at Kiryat Arba police station and also their parents have been called in for questioning. The police officers asked a bail of 500 NIS (New Israeli Shekel) for each teenager. The parents refused to pay it because there was no valid reason for their detention and arrest.
The young Palestinians arrested participate to the initiatives of the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee, active in nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation policy.
Since the beginning of 2013 Ma’on settlers, often in coordination with the Israeli army, chased Palestinian shepherds away seventeen times from Khelly hill and Khelly valley. This land is Palestinian privately-owned land and the Israeli army’s Civil Administration District Coordination Office gave Palestinians permission to work it. Moreover, the land on which the fence is built is also Palestinian-owned private land. Ma’on settlers took possession of it, preventing Palestinians from working it.
Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.
Pictures of the incident: http://snipurl.com/26m8zgm
For further information:
Operation Dove, 054 99 25 773
[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]
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