• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Of Olive Orchards and Armed Zealots

Yanoun Village, Occupied Palestine. At 8 o’clock on a sunny morning, a small group of internationals from ISM and other peace organizations accompanied members of a few local Palestinian families as they went into the nearby fields to harvest their olives. Because this village has been under continuous attack from armed zealots of the illegal Itamar settlement, these farmers didn’t dare to harvest from any trees except those close to their village. Recently the entire population of this simple village fled after repeated nighttime attacks from the armed settlers, and only because internationals promised to accompany them did a few of the families gain courage to return.

On this peaceful Sunday morning as I was enjoying the sun and the company of about two dozen villagers who frequently made certain we were well supplied with water and tea, our quiet labors were interrupted by gunfire close by. As the villagers continued picking olives, a few internationals investigated the shots and learned that IOF soldiers were shooting for reasons that were unclear, except that apparently they knew there were settlers prowling the area. The soldiers asked that all of us to move back close to the village, which we immediately did. Perhaps thirty minutes later, we learned there had been a bombing at the Ariel settlement, and it was decided we should stop harvesting and guide the villagers home.

Everything was packed up within a couple of minutes and the Palestinian harvesters quickly climbed out of the valley towards their village. The internationals stayed back to make sure they made it home safely, and all seemed calm. Suddenly I heard shouting beside me and saw that several young armed settlers were attacking the peace activists with rifle butts. I saw one smash his rifle down on the head of Robbie Kelly, an Irish ISM volunteer, and also witnessed them attacking Omer, who is an Israeli member of Tayuush. I continued to climb the path as quickly as I could, hoping to reach the village and perhaps call for help.

 

Then I noticed I was alone, except for James Delaplain, a 74 year old grandfather from Wisconsin, who was hurrying along a lower level toward the village. Suddenly he was surrounded by armed and angry settlers, they set upon him with fists and weapons, pushing him out of my sight behind an olive tree. Fearing for us both, I continued my climb hoping to reach safety and calling for help for James.

Seconds later I was surrounded by four or five of these angry young men who began screaming at me in Hebrew. Two more began to throw rocks at me from the top of the ridge above me. One grabbed the stick I had been using to help me climb along the rocky path and he struck me hard on my left arm with it. I was shocked because I never imagined they would attack someone clearly old enough to be their grandmother–I am 68. The others began to kick me and one knocked me down. I got up quickly because I had been told during ISM training that once you are on the ground you would be beaten more severely. By now, I realized they were planning to hurt or even kill me, and I was really scared. As I pleaded with them to stop, telling them I was there in peace and that I was frightened, they continued striking me on my arm and shoulder with the stick and rifle butts, all the time screaming at me that they would shoot me. I was struck on my back and chest with the stick and I really felt they wouldn’t stop until they killed me.

My backpack which held all my money, my airplane ticket, my US and British Passports, my credit cards and my digital camera, was over my right shoulder and I tried to hide it from their view. Perhaps it was fortunate that one of them saw it because as soon as they had snatched it from my shoulder they stopped beating me. They screamed “Just Go!”, “Go!”, “Don’t come back!”, “Next time you get a bullet!”, and I sobbed and said I wouldn’t come back. I’m afraid I behaved like a total coward, but I just wanted them to stop hitting me.

As the settlers left and I started again up the path, two other young settlers appeared above me. I was afraid they would attack me, so I shouted that the others had told me to go and that I was going. After a few more seconds, I saw several people in front of me and was momentarily afraid, but was so relieved to find some wonderful internationals who were anxious about James and myself. I screamed that the settlers had beaten James, and just seconds later James also struggled to the edge of the village and safety.

It was evident the IOF, which knew there was trouble brewing and ought to have been there protecting civilians, had deliberately stayed away. The soldiers only intervene to protect the settlers–it is unheard of that they intervene to protect Palestinians.

Robbie needed seven stitches to repair the wound to his left ear. James had been hit in the left eye by a rifle butt and had been beaten in the ribs. My injuries were less severe and it turned out I have no broken bones. Poor James, who had pneumonia two weeks before leaving for Palestine, has fractures of one or more ribs and a collapsed lung; he is currently in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

MARY HUGHES-THOMPSON was born in Lancashire in 1933, lived in Canada from 1953 to 1961, when I moved to California, where she worked in the motion picture and television industry. She is a member of the Writers Guild of America and a private pilot.

About ISM: Read the interview with Ghassan Andoni here: audeh1029.html

 

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail