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Soldiers expel 200 Palestinians from pool to allow settlers to bathe

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A report from the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem [link]: “IDF soldiers expel Palestinians from pool in Palestinian village to Enable Settlers to Bathe”

On 7 April 2015, during Passover holidays, a group of hundreds of settlers accompanied by Israeli security forces came to Birkat al-Karmil – a natural pool close to the village of al-Karmil, which lies in the southern Hebron Hills within Area A. In 2011, Yatta Municipality renovated the site, creating a park there and restoring an ancient pool at its center.

B’Tselem’s investigation found that at about 2:00 P.M., hundreds of settlers arrived at the pool accompanied by dozens of soldiers, Border Police, and representatives of the Civil Administration (CA). The security forces ordered the Palestinian bathers to leave the pool and remain on the edge of the park. They allowed the settlers, however, free and exclusive use of the rest of the park. At about 5:30 P.M., the settlers and the security forces left the area.

“According to media reports, reveal that the settlers came to the pool on the initiative of the Susiya Tour and Study Center. In its publications, the center described the pool as the historical site of the Biblical settlement of Carmel and emphasized that the visit was authorized and accompanied by the military. The center reported that some 1,000 people had taken part in the tour, including Chief Military Rabbi Rafi Peretz, and that similar events have been held at the site for several years, particularly during the festivals of Sukkot and Passover.

According to testimonies collected by B’Tselem, when the settlers arrived at the pool there were almost 200 Palestinians there. Some were bathing in the pool, while others were relaxing in the park. Muhammad Mahaniyah, 20, a resident of Yatta, told B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash that when the settlers arrived, accompanied by the security forces, he was bathing in the pool with friends:

A Border Police officer ordered me to get out of the water quickly. At first I refused and told him that I wanted to be in the pool and had a right to be there. I said that I had no problem with the settlers swimming along with me. He threatened to use force if I didn’t get out of the water quickly, so my friends and I had no choice but to get out. The soldiers ordered the Palestinians who were around the pool to move back to the edge of the park, to stay there, and not to approach the settlers.

Ibrahim Abu Tabikh, 15, from the village of al-Karmil, told Abu Hashhash:

At about two o’clock I went to swim in the pool, which is about 500 meters from my home. When I got there, I saw groups of settlers moving towards the pool. There were dozens of soldiers and Border Police officers with them. The settlers began to undress and jump into the water. I also jumped in with my brother Muhammad, 16, and we began to swim. The settlers complained about our being in the pool and three young settlers started swimming towards us. Some soldiers intervened and asked them to move away from us. After they swam away, one of the soldiers ordered us to get out of the water. I refused and stood by the edge of the pool. Another soldier came up to me, pointed his gun at me, and shouted at me to get out of the water quickly. Muhammad and I got out of the water because I was afraid of the soldiers. As I got out, dozens of Palestinian residents around the pool shouted slogans against the settlers being there. The soldiers moved the residents away from the pool to the northern section of the park and prevented them from wandering around the park. In the meantime the settlers continued to swim while the soldiers guarded them. I stayed in the park until the settlers left at about half past five.

During the incident, the mayor of Yatta came to the pool and protested to the CA representatives who were with the settlers. One representative informed him that the visit had been coordinated with the Palestinian DCO. B’Tselem contacted representatives of the Palestinian DCO, who denied any coordination and claimed they had submitted an official complaint to the Israeli DCO. In fact, whether the visit was coordinated is immaterial, as the Palestinian DCO is not free to refuse such requests by Israeli security forces.

This incident is yet another example of how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank. Almost any desire expressed by settlers, however capricious, is automatically facilitated at the expense of the Palestinian population. In this case, the military used its force and authority solely in order to allow settlers the pleasure of bathing at that particular location. This purpose is unjustified in its own right, and certainly cannot justify the entry of soldiers into Area A or any disruption to Palestinians’ lives.

B’Tselem wrote to the IDF Spokesperson requesting a response to the incident, including a series of detailed questions. The IDF Spokesperson replied with a laconic response that offers no explanation for the authorities’ conduct in the incident.

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43 Responses

  1. just
    June 10, 2015, 10:27 am

    This is blood- curdling.

    Thank goodness for B’Tselem.

    “Almost any desire expressed by settlers, however capricious, is automatically facilitated at the expense of the Palestinian population. In this case, the military used its force and authority solely in order to allow settlers the pleasure of bathing at that particular location. This purpose is unjustified in its own right, and certainly cannot justify the entry of soldiers into Area A or any disruption to Palestinians’ lives.”

    Never forget for one moment that the ‘settlers’ are illegal, they are thieves, and they are rabid racists with IOF enablers that are pretty much the same brand. The response by the IOF was less than “laconic”.

    The Occupation of Palestine is an abomination and an affront to humanity.

    • Marnie
      June 12, 2015, 2:42 am

      This carries the same stink as white privilege in the US. The US and the zionist state are one in the same.

  2. Citizen
    June 10, 2015, 10:32 am

    Gives new meaning to the lifeguard at the pool. Yet our politicians continue telling us American & Israeli values are the same, & continue to give Israel more US taxpayer money.

    • Froggy
      June 11, 2015, 11:48 am

      Citizen : “Gives new meaning to the lifeguard at the pool. Yet our politicians continue telling us American & Israeli values are the same, & continue to give Israel more US taxpayer money.”

      Israeli and American values are the same, if the American values are those of the South ca 1952.

  3. eljay
    June 10, 2015, 10:50 am

    It’s not enough for Zio-supremacists to practise their form of supremacism within the (Partition) borders of their “Jewish State”. It seems that they aren’t happy unless they’re doing it on both sides of the border, shoving it down the throats of the people they’ve been oppressing for almost 70 years (and counting).

    Zio-supremacists are a truly hateful and immoral lot.

    • Kay24
      June 10, 2015, 11:45 am

      They need to cleanse their meanness from their souls, and their arrogant actions to make sure their supremacist bodies get a cleaning, is going the wrong way. Every such action simply makes them look more evil.

  4. just
    June 10, 2015, 10:57 am

    via Max Blumenthal

    “Two pools, two worlds of news coverage: … #Palestine #McKinney #Discrimination”

  5. amigo
    June 10, 2015, 11:59 am

    What are these Palestinians complaining about.They will get to swim when the chosen people are finished .The Nazis never allowed Jews to swim.


    What,s wrong with a little sharing as long as Israeli Jews do not have to risk their security while relaxing.Hell , a Palestinian might pee on one of them.

    Does Jim Crow come to mind.

    My suggestion to the Palestinians is to spray lots of skunk juice into the pool.

    • just
      June 10, 2015, 12:09 pm

      Yes, it does remind me of Jim Crow, but it’s 2015 in Palestine.

      “My suggestion to the Palestinians is to pour lots of skunk juice into the pool.”

      Though I understand your sentiment, that would be decidedly un- Palestinian. They worked hard to restore the ancient pool.

      Muhammad Mahaniyah: “I said that I had no problem with the settlers swimming along with me.”

      • amigo
        June 10, 2015, 1:20 pm

        Though I understand your sentiment, that would be decidedly un- Palestinian.” just

        Noble sentiments just but sometimes you have to fight skunk juice with skunk juice.

        And yes the Palestinians worked hard to restore the pool but not for illegal squatters , backed up by the IOF to come along and kick them out.These scum do not understand peaceful overtures.They scoff at such a response and heighten their criminal actions.We are not dealing with “Humans” here.

        Not that I am suggesting going to back to violent resistance.

      • ziusudra
        June 11, 2015, 2:47 am

        Greetings just,
        That was mighty White of the Israelis soldiers & settlers.
        In a southern state not too long ago, they would have drained the pool & clean it after a Black American used it. Now that’s genuine JIm Crow!
        PS At least they were asked to leave.
        As a lapsed Catholic, we Boys swam mornings, the Girls afternoons & the the Nuns in the evening in our Boarding School. We all used the same water.

    • John O
      John O
      June 10, 2015, 12:20 pm

      I don’t suppose any of these settlers have heard of Groucho Marx. When told he could join an exclusive club so long as he didn’t use the swimming pool, he quipped, “My daughter’s half-Jewish. Can she go in up to her knees?”

      I don’t know if that was the same club that prompted him to remark that he didn’t want to join any club that was prepared to have him as a member.

  6. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    June 10, 2015, 12:25 pm

    Coming right on the heels of the Mckinney pool incident this is a good time to highlight this. And we should make sure to include that picture of the white guy pouring acid into the pool black activists were trying to integrate back in the sixties.

    Stay classy, Israel!

  7. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    June 10, 2015, 8:55 pm

    “The Palestinian DCO is not free to refuse such requests by Israeli security forces.”

    Do the Oslo Agreements specifically say that the PA must accede to all demands of the IDF even in Area A, which is supposedly under the PA’s “civilian and security control”? (“Request” is the wrong word if they are really not free to refuse.)

  8. RoHa
    June 11, 2015, 12:40 am

    Jewish settlers are prepared to swim in a pool that has had [shudder] Palestinians swimming in it?

    How astonishingly broad-minded of them!

    Most of us would have had the pool emptied, gamma-ray sterilized, refilled with clean water from a West Bank Judea-Samaria well, and blessed by an appropriate holy man before we entered it.

    I can’t help thinking that the settlers are getting slack.

    • Stephen Shenfield
      Stephen Shenfield
      June 11, 2015, 7:45 am

      They may believe that they themselves are so holy that the water is purified by their own contact with it.

  9. Down under girl
    Down under girl
    June 11, 2015, 8:14 am

    Suppose if you are thick and gullible enough to believe what B’Tselem tells you, you’d believe anything.

    B’Tselem received close to 6 million dollars from some of the worst Israel/Jew haters on the planet.

    European Union, France, DanChurch Aid (Denmark), Diakonia (Sweden), Norway, Christian Aid Ireland, EED (Germany), UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services (US), World Vision, NDC (joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), ICCO (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), UK, the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund.

    • talknic
      June 11, 2015, 9:28 am

      @ Down under girl

      “Suppose if you are thick and gullible enough to believe what B’Tselem tells you, you’d believe anything”

      Rrrrright …. so tell us, is the report wrong? Not true?

      If you are thick and gullible enough to believe illegal Israeli settlers are allowed in Occupied Territories under Israeli military control, you’ll believe anything

    • diasp0ra
      June 11, 2015, 9:44 am

      Do you have any proof that can refute this report? Or any of their other reports? You know they have a youtube channel where they document these things?

      Typical, instead of addressing the facts presented not just by them, but by dozens of other NGOs and groups, you attack them with the morally bankrupt assertion that they are antisemitic just because they don’t go along with the downright fascist policies that Israel carries out in the West Bank.

      I don’t think you understand what you and your ilk have been doing to the charge of antisemitism. By calling any criticism of Israel “jew hatred” you’re actually desensitizing people to actual antisemitism. You’re lessening the gravity of its actual effects and it will backfire on you massively. It’s an insult to actual victims of antisemitism.

      Go rethink your life.

      • just
        June 11, 2015, 11:58 am

        +1, diasp0ra!


      • MHughes976
        June 11, 2015, 4:42 pm

        Have there in fact been claims from the Israeli armed forces or the Susiya organisation or anyone else involved that the story is fictional or that the event was seriously misrepresented by B’Tselem?

    • eljay
      June 11, 2015, 9:54 am

      || Down under girl: Suppose if you are thick and gullible enough to believe what B’Tselem tells you, you’d believe anything. ||

      Any moment now, y.f. is going to chastise you for scoffing.

    • Kris
      June 11, 2015, 10:47 am

      Down under girl, instead of making lame ad hominem accusations, maybe you could tell us what is untrue about the info from B’Tselem.

      Discussions, whether pro- or con-, are more interesting and convincing when actual information is shared and debated.

      For example, “Israel/Jew haters” is just name-calling. You should back up your assertion with verifiable examples showing how UNICEF, etc. demonstrate such a behavior or attitude.

      Name-calling and ad hominem attacks fall far short of critical discussion and debate, which is what most commenters are looking for on mondoweiss (see the Comments Policy at the top of the home page).

    • just
      June 11, 2015, 11:02 am

      Seriously, DUG?

      You listed some very well known organizations and assert that they are “some of the worst Israel/Jew haters on the planet.”

      You can’t peddle that junk here~ nobody’s buying. You seem to have landed in the wrong place~ this is no cesspit of lies and hasbara.

      • a blah chick
        a blah chick
        June 11, 2015, 2:54 pm

        Please don’t scare Down under girl away. Ever since my beloved Shuki took a powder I’ve been hoping for another clueless troll to follow.

        I think my prayers have been answered.

      • just
        June 11, 2015, 3:12 pm

        Fair enough.

        (lolololol! Shuki…..)

    • Froggy
      June 11, 2015, 11:58 am

      Down under girl : “the worst Israel/Jew haters on the planet.

      European Union, France, DanChurch Aid (Denmark), Diakonia (Sweden), Norway, Christian Aid Ireland, EED (Germany), UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services (US), World Vision, NDC (joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), ICCO (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), UK, the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund.”

      You can’t be serious! You just can’t.

      Froggy, in FRANCE

      • RoHa
        June 11, 2015, 8:25 pm

        C’mon, Froggy, admit it. You know you lot are a bunch of slavering, wild-eyed, garlic-smelling, anti-Semites, just itching for a chance to slit Jewish throats.

        So are the Norwegians. (Except for the garlic bit.) And the Swedes. And the British. And the Dutch. And the Danes. And just about everyone and everything in Europe, it seems. With or without the garlic.

        Makes you wonder why Israel wants to be in the Eurovision song contest.

      • annie
        June 11, 2015, 8:29 pm

        don’t forget spain!

      • RoHa
        June 11, 2015, 9:27 pm

        With its universally unanticipated and fairly garlicky Inquisition.

      • echinococcus
        June 12, 2015, 12:28 am

        Spain is the worst: instead of forcing all Jews to emigrate to a war zone, it gives RoR 500 years after the fact. This is obviously to sabotage the work of the Jewish Agency!

    • Qualtrough
      June 11, 2015, 2:28 pm

      Down under girl – Checking on Reddit and other forums I see that the go-to Hasbara response to this story is to engage in ad hominem attacks on the sources. Just like your post, not a single post I saw dealt with the facts of the case. The fact that none of you tries to refute anything in this story is a sure sign that the facts presented here must be quite accurate. Thank you for providing that affirmation!

      • annie
        June 11, 2015, 2:38 pm

        plus, to support her claim she links to ngo monitor, the infamous lying hatchet job neocon group whose “International Board of Directors” includes Elliott Abrams and Alan Dershowitz.

      • just
        June 11, 2015, 3:11 pm

        Yep, Annie.

        Thanks, Qualtrough

        Froggy, she is “serious”. It always surprises me that some try to ply their lies here at MW. It’s a crying shame and a waste of their keystrokes, really.

  10. RobertHenryEller
    June 11, 2015, 8:25 am

    Why are they referred to as “settlers?” As if anything has been settled.

  11. CigarGod
    June 11, 2015, 9:00 am

    Well, this issue might have been avoided had a steel revolving door been installed and had the settlers presented their papers to PDF soldiers, allowing them access.

  12. Boo
    June 11, 2015, 10:02 am

    Can something be both serious and pathetic at the same time? If so, this bizarre action certainly qualifies.

    It could be a scene from Animal House: Dean Wormer orders “Everybody out of the pool!” Dean Wormer is the perfect stalking horse for Bibi, after all. But we’d have to make a slight casting change — Bibi’s role demands to be played by John Belushi.

    The fact Belushi’s dead simply makes it that much more apt.

  13. rosross
    June 11, 2015, 10:43 am

    It is an indication of just how brainwashed, deluded, bigoted and out of touch most Israelis are, particularly the fanatical illegal settlers. All grist for the BDS mill though so we should be grateful to them. Israel has perfected the art of the ‘own goal.’

  14. Froggy
    June 11, 2015, 12:29 pm

    Inhumane behaviour on the part of the settlers and military.

    • Bornajoo
      June 12, 2015, 12:52 pm

      “inhumane behaviour on the part of the settlers and military.”

      Yes. This is exactly how apartheid works. They were just acting in line with their apartheid principles

  15. just
    June 12, 2015, 5:28 pm

    Gideon Levy and Alex Levac:

    “Bitter waters: Settlers invade ancient pool under Palestinian control

    It’s a day that won’t be forgotten in the arid, far-flung village of Al-Karmel, in the southern reaches of Mount Hebron. Even now, two months later, the resident are overwrought when they tell the story of what happened, their rage and feeling of humiliation still palpable.

    No blood was shed that day, no one was arrested or beaten, no home was demolished, no disaster occurred. But still, in Al-Karmel they haven’t forgotten. The mayor of the nearby city of Yatta remembers; the lifeguard, the gardener and the eyewitnesses remember. But above all it’s the children who remember: It was they were removed, forcefully and under the threat of rifles, from the water, because the settlers were coming. The lords of the land swept into the park under the aegis of the Israel Occupation Army, which kicked the Palestinians out of the only recreation site in the area.

    It was April 7, the third day of Hol Hamo’ed (the intermediate days) of Passover; the same thing also happened a few days later, albeit on a smaller scale. But everyone in Al-Karmel remembers the day apartheid came to their ancient pool. …

    …Birket Al-Karmel, an ancient water reservoir, was renovated in recent years, at a cost of millions of shekels, and turned into a recreation site. We visited this pool many years ago, when it was still a neglected site dating from the Ottoman period. We watched the children of Al-Karmel jump from high up into the stagnant water, risking their lives with every leap. A series of pictures taken at the time by photographer Miki Kratsman became iconic images.

    The pool was renovated with funds from Yatta and donations, collected from both wealthy West Bank Palestinians and from abroad, at a cost of about 4 million shekels ($1 million), and the place was transformed. The pool is surrounded by a low wall, to prevent from jumping in, and the city now is planning to install a high fence, to prevent access to the site when it is closed. The terraces, decorative landscaping, Hebron stones, washrooms and a spring that gushes from the rock next to the pool – all make this one of the most spectacular outdoor sites in the West Bank.

    The renovations are scheduled to be completed this year. A restaurant and café will be built, at a cost of another 1.2 million shekels, says Yatta Mayor Mussa Mhamra, in addition to the fence. The fence is obviously sorely needed.

    Abu Sabiyah watched as the soldiers rushed into the park. They surrounded the pool and ordered the children, all of them Palestinians, out of the water. Abu Sabiyah remembers that there were about 20 children swimming at the time, and all of them were forced to climb out. There were a few dozen local adults on hand as well. The soldiers, reinforced by a contingent from the Border Police, concentrated them all one corner of the park.

    The troops’ “cleansing” operation was quickly accomplished. Abu Sabiyah called the Yatta municipality, which manages the site, to report on the intrusion. The mayor rushed over immediately, but to no avail.

    Later that day, the lords of the land arrived. Hundreds of settlers. It was the Passover week holiday, and this was, according to the ads, a heritage trip sponsored by the Susiya Tour and Study Center, under IDF protection, as usual.

    Some of the settlers jumped into the water, others stood and listened to the guides, who explained that this place belongs to the Jews. A few prayed – Abu Sabiyah says some of the men also put on tefillin.

    “They even put dogs in the water. Did you ever see dogs in a pool? We don’t do that, but they do,” he adds.

    This week, B’Tselem: the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, posted photographs shot by one of its field investigators of this disgraceful event. Hundreds of settlers, the men in skullcaps, triumphantly encircle the huge pool while a few of them splash about in the water. The Palestinians stand to one side, in the corner allotted to them, shamed and cowed, while armed soldiers secure the settlers.

    It’s important to point out that all this occurred in Area A, which under the Oslo Accords is under Palestinian control. But who cares?

    “If I go now to the [nearby] settlement of Carmel, would anyone let me in?” Abu Sabiyah says bitterly. “Would I be allowed into the settlement of Maon? And why would I go there, anyway? They come here only to make trouble.”

    The settlers’ frolicking went on for about two hours, until dusk. The uninvited guests left at about 5:30 or 6 P.M. The settlers left, the soldiers left, the Border Policemen left, too.

    A similar event occurred again about two weeks ago. The park’s gardener, Yakub Abu Haram, relates that at dawn on May 28, when he arrived for work, he saw a military force there, and about 10 settlers in the pool. The soldiers tried to prevent him from entering the site, even after he told them he works there. The lifeguard, Osama Mhamra, says that he too saw the soldiers from his house, before he left for the pool.

    The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit says that the army has no information about this more recent occurrence.

    As for the event during Passover, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit offered the following response when asked whether it’s the army’s task to secure events in which settlers invade Area A: “On April 7, 2015, specific authorization was given by the relevant personnel in Central Command for settlers to enter a pool in whose area the biblical settlement of Carmel was located in the past and which is now in Area A. Nothing exceptional was recorded during the event. The Palestinians were allowed to be present in the area of the compound, and there were Palestinian attendants there.

    “As a rule, Israelis are not allowed into Area A, and any such entry requires specific authorization of the GOC. After the entry during Hol Hamo’ed of Passover, no additional entry of soldiers into the pool area has occurred that is known [to the IDF].”

    A few children were playing in the pool this week in the middle of a broiling-hot day. There’s still no shade at the site; creating shaded areas will be part of the next stage of development. Mayor Mhamra arrived in his pickup, accompanied by a uniformed security man from the Palestinian Authority and a member of the municipal council. Mhamra and the councilman have saved a video clip of the Passover visit on their cellphones.

    The mayor heads a metropolitan area that covers a huge area and has 110,000 inhabitants. The Al-Karmel pool is its only recreation site. A lawyer and a member of the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Communist Party, he was active on the Committee for the Protection of the Lands, a Palestinian organization. Only after the interview does he reveal that he speaks fluent Hebrew, as does the councilman, Yasser Bader. The two have just come from the village of Susiya, which the Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, visited that day in the company of European diplomats who came to protest Israel’s plan to demolish the village.

    Mhamra, in a white shirt, denies that the settlers’ visit on Passover was pre-arranged with him. “We have bitter experience with the settlers in the region,” he says. “They are undesirable guests here. They are ‘guests with swords.’ We will treat them in the same way they treat us. If we can go to Tel Aviv, if there is peace and equality, then we will host Israelis here. Now we will build a fence here and post guards day and night, so that similar incidents do not recur.”

    To which the muscular lifeguard, Osama Mhamra, adds, “You know, if I were to try to get to Al-Aqsa [on the Temple Mount], I would be shot.””

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