On the afternoon of July 27, brothers Ibrahim Abeidu, 17, and Mohammad Abeidu, 19, were carrying water for their neighbor in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. There is a current drought and water is often shared between households. Walking on the hills above the Muslim cemetery, 20 Israeli settlers from a nearby illegal colony appeared on the same path. As the brothers passed by, one settler suddenly turned to them and sprayed a form of nauseating gas in the faces of the two teenagers carrying water. The brothers became dazed, and fell to ground.
The 20 settlers proceeded to throw stones at the Abeidu brothers as they lay on the ground. This attracted a Palestinian crowd who came to intervene, as well as local activists from the organization Youth Against Settlements (YAS) who arrived to document the attack. Ibrahim Abeidu is himself a distinguished volunteer at YAS, who, among other things, works on self-strengthening activities, documentation, and youth education.
Some 60 Israeli soldiers arrived on scene, only to show aggression against the Palestinians rather than the gas-spraying illegal settlers.
Unusually, a Palestinian ambulance was able to get permission from Israeli forces to enter Shuhada Street and help the two brothers who remained in weak condition on the ground. The apartheid-stricken Shuhada Street in the center of Hebron has been closed to Palestinian access for over a decade while Israelis and internationals can walk freely.
Israeli soldiers prevented the two victims from entering the ambulance on the basis that they were not carrying their ID cards on them. Only after being questioned, in a condition when needing medical attention, was Mohammad allowed to enter the ambulance and be rushed hospital. The younger Ibrahim, however, was still forbidden from entering the ambulance. Having been carried downhill to Shuhada Street, he remained on the ground and was refused medical aid. Instead, soldiers arrested him on accusations of throwing stones and attacking the same 20 Israeli settlers that had gassed him.
Having received treatment in hospital, Mohammad is now back at his home. Not having received any known medical aid, his brother Ibrahim remains arrested at the police station in Qiryat Arba.
This latest event is yet another episode in a recent escalation of harassment against Palestinians in Hebron, from the inhabitants of the illegal Israeli settlements, and their friends in the Israeli Occupation Forces.
Hakim Maghribi is a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).