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Rock, paper, tears Add to ...

There was a moment, on Thursday, as my colleague, Orly Halpern, and I were running across a valley outside Hebron with a couple hundred Israeli settler youth standing above us, some raining rocks down on us, that I wondered what the hell I was doing. Was it really necessary to expose myself to such risks, just to get a story; just to see what was happening inside the Palestinian home to which we were heading? We already had seen - from a safe distance - that many of the settler youth had broken through the fence that safeguards the Kiryat Arba settlement from Palestinians, and descended down the steep valley slope and onto the roof of this house. We had seen them throw rocks down on the family's porch below, set fire to the laundry hanging on racks at the side of the house. We'd even seen a video one man had shot of a settler shooting two male members of the family then making a getaway in a car. And we had seen that there were no police, border police or Israeli soldiers anywhere near the house we were approaching. But Orly had insisted and, once inside, we knew why we had come. An extended family - nine women, three young men and 15 kids - were huddled in fear inside. The older men had taken the wounded to hospital and Israeli soldiers would not let them return. They watched, helplessly, from the other side of the valley as the attacks on their family continued. One woman was lying down crying uncontrollably. Little boys didn't know whether to laugh or cry - the movies and games they'd undoubtedly seen were suddenly come to life. A handful of Israeli journalists had preceded us - in fact, they had run to the house in order to chase away the youths who appeared ready to set the house on fire or drag out the inhabitants. At this point, the reporters were busy interviewing people. The exception was Tess, a photographer from the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. She was sitting down, weeping. She was ashamed that the people carrying out what her colleague, Avi, would describe as a "pogrom," were Israeli, were Jews. Moments later, Israeli forces did arrive: first, in the form of an undercover police officer who assured the family the police would protect them, and then with a hail of stun grenades and tear gas delivered by the IDF for our benefit, driving away the hilltop youth who had continued their attacks.

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