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Muhammad Jarara at his home after being released from the hospital. Photo by Salma a-Deba'i, B'Tselem
From the field

Route 60: Settlers throw stones at three Palestinians, injuring one seriously in the head

On 5 October 2017, at about 10:00 PM, three Palestinians were traveling in a car along Route 60: Thaer Obeidi, 43, married and father of three, a resident of Bruqin; Ghasan Qasrawi, 23, a resident of the village of Misiliyah; and Muhammad Jarar’ah, 29, a resident of ‘Asirah a-Shamaliyah. As they were driving close to the settlement of Shilo, settlers attacked the car with stones, injuring Muhammad Jarar’ah seriously in the head, above his right eye.

The three men were on their way back from the wedding of Obeidi’s cousin in the village of Bruqin, in the Salfit District, to their work at the Palestinian police in Bethlehem. Qasrawi, the owner of the car, was driving. Obeidi was sitting next to him, while Jarar’ah was sitting in the back. As the car approach the settlement of Shilo, they noticed headlights a few dozen meters ahead of them. Assuming that soldiers or police officers were on the scene, Obeidi asked Qasrawi to slow down. Then, from a distance of a few meters, the three men saw three or four youths in civilian clothes who began to throw stones at them. One of the youths was holding a flashlight that he turned on and off intermittently. 

In testimony taken on 12 October 2017 by B'Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Muhammad Jarar’ah stated:

I was preoccupied with our conversation and didn’t imagine that we might be attacked, so I wasn’t concentrating on the attackers. As we approached and were right next to them, they suddenly threw large stones at us from a very short distance, one or two meters. One of the stones struck the door on Thaer’s side.

The window next to me was open and I managed to see that the attackers were young and wearing civilian clothes. One of them was wearing a white shirt, had long sideburns, and was holding a projector. The second one was wearing a green or blue shirt and holding a stone. I don’t remember what the third one looked like.

The stone, which was the size of a grapefruit, hit me on the head. The blow was so hard that I felt as though sparks were coming out of my eyes. My first thought was that I was about to die, because when I felt my head I could feel that a large area – bigger than my palm – was totally smashed. It was like my hand was fitting into this dent in my head. I held the place where I had been injured with both hands and screamed in pain.

Ghasan didn’t stop, because we realized that we’d been attacked by settlers. We could tell this from their clothes and from the fact that no Palestinian would dare to stand at night in this area, where the settlers have vineyards.

In testimony taken on 7 October 2017 by B'Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Thaer Obeidi described what happened:

ת'אאיר עביידי. התמונה באדיבות העד.

One stone broke the window next to me. Another one hit Muhammad, who was sitting in the right-hand rear seat. I heard him shouting and I could see that his face was bleeding. I tried to calm down Ghasan and asked him to keep on driving.

I moved to the back seat and sat next to Muhammad, who was bleeding heavily. I used a coat on the back seat and tried to dress the wound and soak up the blood so that I could see the injury. When I lifted the coat, I was surprised by the extent of the injury. There was a gaping wound on his forehead, above his right eye. His window had been open so he had taken the full force of the blow. Muhammad was shouting and groaning in pain and said that he was going to die. I was very worried about him, but I tried to calm him down. I asked Ghasan to drive to the village of Turmusaya, because there is an urgent medicine clinic there. I didn’t know how to stop the bleeding because the wound was so large and deep and was in a delicate area. I was afraid to apply pressure, because I didn’t want to press something and cause harm. The person who did this wanted to kill. If the driver had been hit, we could all have died.

Muhammad Jarar’ah was taken by ambulance from the medical center in Turmusaya to al-Istishari Hospital in Ramallah. X-rays taken at the hospital showed that he was suffering from skull fractures and a dislocated upper jaw. Three days after his injury, Jarar’ah underwent surgery to close the fractures and set his jaw. He was then held in intensive care until 10 October 2017, when he was transferred to the neurosurgical department. On 14 October 2017 he was discharged, but he continues to come to hospital for checkups. 

In testimony taken on 8 October 2017 by B'Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Ghasan Qasrawi described the aftermath of the attack:

Muhammad is like my brother. We have a very close relationship. We work together and don’t look for trouble. We just want to make a living and live in security. He is a simply and polite guy who only wants to build a stable life for himself, like any young man. In order to save money so that he can get married, Muhammad worked in construction after his shifts working for National Security. 

The day after the attack, Thaer Obeidi and I submitted a complaint at the Palestinian DCO and gave our testimonies. I don’t believe that any good will come of the complaints or that they will change the situation, but it’s the least we can do.

Then I went home. I checked my car and found some dents on the right side. The wing mirror was broken. I didn’t care about the damage and the expense. All that matters to me is that Muhammad will be able to go back to his family and to come back and work with us, safe and sound like he was before.

As of 24 October 2017, almost two weeks after the incident, the police have not even bothered to take testimonies from the victims of the attack. This behavior is consistent with experience, which shows that the chances that anything will be done to advance an investigation when settlers attack Palestinians, or that an investigation will lead to the prosecution of those responsible, are very slim. This reality forms part of the longstanding policy of the Israeli authorities who generally allow settlers to attack Palestinians without holding them responsible for their actions. In so doing, the authorities permit such acts to continue undisturbed.