A settler became tangled in barbed wire after he climbed on to the roof of a Palestinian apartment building in Hebron to remove two Palestinian flags, as seen in a video published on YouTube by B’Tselem.
The incident last Saturday began when a bearded settler, wearing Shabbat clothing – black pants, a white shirt and a large white skullcap – set up a wooden ladder and climbed up it.
He tried to scale a wire fence around the roof of a Palestinian home next to Beit Hadassah, a Jewish apartment complex, in an area of the city under Israeli military control.
Shadi Sidr, one of the Palestinian home owners and a volunteer for the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, filmed the incident. The video opens as the settler, breathless from the climb, gets caught on barbed wire woven into the fence.
“Why are you on my roof?” asked Sidr in broken Hebrew.
The settler, who had a Russian accent, also spoke in broken Hebrew as he answered Sidr.
“I’ve come to talk with you,” the settler said. As he spoke, he hung onto the building’s stone ledge, his shirt stuck in the barbed wire and his feet still on the ladder.
His antics attracted the attention of Hebron’s Jewish community, which gathered below to watch the spectacle.
The settler, undeterred by his precarious position, asked Sidr to remove the two Palestinian flags.
Sidr refused and asked the settler how he would feel if Sidr attempted to climb onto his roof to remove an Israeli flag.
“Would that be good?” asked Sidr.
“But this roof is my roof.
This is all mine, this is my country and my land,” said the settler.
“No. This is my house.
Why are you here?” asked Sidr.
“You just think it’s yours.
But this whole country is the Land of Israel,” said the settler.
“Hebron is not in Israel.
This is Palestine. I am not in Tel Aviv,” said Sidr.
“What is Palestine? It is only what the Romans called it. This is the Land of Israel. This is my country.
And everything that is here is mine,” said the settler.
A soldier arrived at that moment to rescue the settler from the barbed wire and to assure him the flag would be taken down. The soldiers told Sidr he is not allowed to fly the flag.
Sidr did not heed the soldier’s command and the tale of the flag did not end there.
A short time later three armed soldiers with helmets and flak jackets arrived at Sidr’s home to push him to remove the flags. They used the stairs to climb up to the roof, where they found Sidr, his brother, a few other family members and observers from the Temporary International Presence in Hebron.
This incident was also caught on video.
“Why are you in my house?” asked the brother.
“You have to take the flag down or we will arrest you,” the soldier told Sidr and his brother. “The order that is on this house is that you are not allowed to put up the [Palestinian] flag. You either take down the flag or we have to place you into custody and I don’t want to do that.”
In response, Sidr’s brother said “This is a Palestinian house and I placed a flag [here] for my house,” pointing out that he painted a flag, now faded, onto a wall on the roof.
“Just take down the flags and there won’t be any problems,” the soldier said.
“This is my house,” Sidr replied. He wanted to know why the soldier was threatening to arrest him and not the settler.
“We don’t want any problems, show me a court order and I will remove the flag,” he added.
The soldiers then conferred with their superiors by phone and spoke among themselves about what to do next.
“This is completely crazy,” said one soldier. “There is no reason to remove him [Sidr] by force in front of the cameras.”
The soldiers then told Sidr they would return with a court order with regard to the flags, but no such order has been forthcoming.
The IDF said on Thursday there was no regulation mandating Palestinian flag removal.
“The IDF does not have a policy of removing flags and has no intention to adopt such a policy,” the IDF said.
It added that the soldiers’ statement about the flag removal was part of “a local initiative and the matter will be examined.”
According to B’Tselem, which published the videos, Sidr found on Thursday that the flags on his rooftop had been torn.