Video: Police go undercover to identify attackers of Palestinians

"We are attempting to gather intelligence quietly to place a name to at least one of these people," police spokesman says.

BTselem vid 224 88 (photo credit: B'Tselem)
BTselem vid 224 88
(photo credit: B'Tselem)
Police have opened an undercover investigation to identify the masked men who were videotaped beating three members of a Palestinian family with sticks a week ago, a Judea and Samaria Police spokesman said Sunday. "We are attempting to gather intelligence quietly to place a name to at least one of these people," the spokesman said. "This is an undercover investigation aimed at getting hold of a lead." The assault took place near Sussiya in the southern Hebron Hills. In the video, shot by a teenage Palestinian girl, four individuals who appear to be young men march toward the family while holding sticks, with one man wielding a stick at a Palestinian farmer. The film then ends, as the camera girl fled to summon help. Double click on Play icon below to watch clip: Tamam Nawaja, 58, was hospitalized with fractures to her hand and cheekbone, according to Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman for the B'Tselem organization, which provided the video camera used to document the attack. The other two victims were lightly wounded, Michaeli said. Soldiers arrived and provided first aid before an ambulance evacuated Nawaja to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. B'Tselem has distributed some 100 video cameras to Palestinians who regularly complain about harassment by settlers, in an effort to capture the incidents on film. Michaeli believes the attackers caught on video were settlers. "The question is, do they come from Sussiya or are they guests there?" she asked Sunday. Michaeli said the southern Hebron Hills were marked by high tensions and ongoing friction. "I think this looks like a hate crime," she said. "The only people who live in this area are Palestinians and settlers. There are constant confrontations between Palestinians and settlers here. There is also violence against settlers by Palestinians." According to Michaeli, "The settlements in this area are viewed as extreme. There are attempts to push Palestinians out of farming areas and to take them over. Our criticism isn't against the settlers but against the army, which allows this to happen, and which takes the settlers' side. "The settlers have a strong political lobby. The [IDF] commanders don't explain to soldiers that their job is to defend all civilians. The soldiers understand their role as defending Jews against Arabs, and the police are very understaffed in this area." A spokesman for Sussiya denied that any residents were linked to the assault. "We have nothing to say," he said. "This incident is not connected to us. We totally reject the suggestion that the attackers came from Sussiya."