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Defenseless: Settlers, backed by Israeli authorities, vandalize Palestinian property in the West Bank

June 2018

Settler violence is par for the course for Palestinians in the West Bank. When a Palestinian woman leaves her house in the morning, she might find her car’s tires have been slashed. When a Palestinian farmer goes out to his land, he might find his olive grove vandalized or his sheep slaughtered. In April 2018 alone, we documented 14 settler assaults across the West Bank.

Israel both enables this reality – by its deliberate lack of law enforcement and by sending soldiers to guard settlers who attack Palestinians and even help them – and reaps its benefit. Under its policy, no house, no car, no field is safe, and settlers can do as they please without suffering any consequences. The policy’s impact far exceeds the specific harm to individuals and their property. It creates a chilling, nerve-wracking effect on life in general, as people live with the knowledge that there is no law and no justice, that they and their property are free game. Living in constant fear of what is to come is an inherent part of daily life under the occupation.

The photographs below depict nine of fourteen attacks carried out in April. Reports on scores of other incidents, including video footage of settler violence, are available via our topic page

On 13 April 2018, settlers attacked Nizam Ma’tan, 43, who lives in the village of Burqa, Ramallah District, while he was grazing his herd with his 13-year-old son. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Mu’tan recalled: “They [the settlers] have attacked us many times before. They have no mercy, no compassion. I couldn’t fend them off because I was there alone with my young son. They chased us and threw stones at us. When we ran, we didn’t manage to take the whole herd with us. One sheep fell behind. The settlers beat it on the head and back with metal bars until they killed it.
On the night of 20 April 2018, settlers entered the village of Burqa, Ramallah District. They slashed the tires of forty vehicles and spray-painted hate graffiti in Hebrew on the walls of five homes. Photo by ‘Ali Mu’tan, Burqa, 21 April 2018.
Before dawn on the morning of 4 April 2018, three settlers came into the village of Far’ata, slashed the tires of five cars and spray-painted hate graffiti and slogans in Hebrew on some of the cars and on the fence of a home. The incident was captured on the security camera of one of the homes in the neighborhood. The photo shows Basel Saleh checking his car’s tires. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 4 April 2018.
Graffiti the settlers spray-painted on the fence of Mahmoud Salah’s home in Far’ata. The text reads, in Hebrew: “No more administrative orders.” Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 4 April 2018.
Graffiti the settlers spray-painted on Ribhi a-Tawil’s car in Far’ata. The text reads, in Hebrew: “No more administrative orders.” Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 4 April 2018.
Early on the morning of 25 April 2018, settlers entered the village of Deir al-‘Ammar, Ramallah District, slashed the tires of eight cars and spray-painted graffiti. The photo shows Muhammad Hussein’s pickup truck with its slashed tires. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B’Tselem, 26 April 2018.
Graffiti settlers spray-painted on a home in the village of Burqa, Ramallah District. The text reads, in Hebrew: “Supporters of terrorism live here. Deport or kill.” Photo by Iyad Hadad, B’Tselem, 21 April 2018.
On the night of 25 April 2018, settlers entered the village of Jalud, Nablus District. They slashed the tires of four vehicles, including a bus, and spray-painted graffiti in Hebrew on the walls of homes. Photo shows the text “Let us handle them”, spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of Muhammad Hamud’s home. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 26 April 2018.
Early on the morning of 29 April 2018, before dawn, two settlers were seen slashing tires in the village of Turmusa’ya, Ramallah District. The two settlers got into a car and headed in the direction of the settlement of Adei Ad. The tires of nine vehicles in the village had been slashed and graffiti spray-painted on three walls. The photo shows the text (in Hebrew) “Take revenge against the gentiles” that had been spray-painted in the village. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B’Tselem, 29 April 2018.
“Regards to Abraham Rabin.” Graffiti settlers spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of a home in Jalud, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, 26 April 2018.
“Deport or kill.” Graffiti settlers spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of a home in a-Sawiyah, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem 18 April 2018.
On the night of 17 April 2018, settlers entered the villages of a-Sawiyah and a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah, Nablus District, slashed the tires of 26 vehicles in each of the two villages and spray-painted graffiti on the walls of homes. Photo shows Muhammad Khdeir, who lives in a-Sawiyah, next to the graffiti “No more administrative orders” settlers spray-painted in Hebrew in the village. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 18 April 2018.
‘Omar Mu’tan’s dead sheep, killed by settlers in the village of Burqa, 13 April 2018.
“Kill or deport.” Graffiti settlers spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of a home in a-Sawiyah, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 18 April 2018.
Car with tires slashed by settlers, the village of Jalud, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 26 April 2018.
“Let us handle them.” Graffiti settlers spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of a home in the village of Jalud, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 26 April 2018.
“We’ll take control of our fate.” Graffiti settlers spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of a home in the village of Jalud, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 26 April 2018.
“Let us handle them.” Graffiti settlers spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of a home in the village of Jalud, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 26 April 2018.
On 27 April 2018, Jamileh Shehadeh, 81, from the village of ‘Urif, Nablus District was told by another local resident that her fourteen olive trees, which grew in a plot 500 to 800 meters away from the settlement of Yitzhar had been cut down. In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i she said: “The settlers didn’t leave a single tree on our land. I haven’t been able to get there because I’m scared to go by myself due to the settlers’ presence. I’m afraid they’ll hurt me. I’m afraid also for my sons. I told them not to go there alone. Because they work in Israel, they don’t want to file a complaint so that their permits won’t be taken from them. They have families to provide for. I have nothing left. This is the plot I inherited from my father.”
“Fight the enemy. Price Tag.” Graffiti settlers spray-painted in Hebrew on a water tank in the village of ‘Urif, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 29 April 2018.
On 27 April 2018, settlers chopped down 54 trees on land belonging to families in the village of ‘Urif, Nablus District. The photo shows a tree settlers broke on Hiyam Sabah’s land. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 29 April 2018.
“Fight the enemy. Price Tag.” Graffiti settlers spray-painted in Hebrew on a water tank in the village of ‘Urif, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 29 April 2018.
A tree settlers sawed through on Hiyam Sabah’s land, village of ‘Urif, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 29 April 2018.
Another tree vandalized by settlers on Hiyam Sabah’s land, village of ‘Urif, Nablus District. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 29 April 2018


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