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Shooting, assaulting, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at cars and homes, raiding villages, torching structures and fields, vandalizing property and crops: settlers exercise harsh daily violence against Palestinians, with state support, to drive them out of their land. Launched in early 2020, this blog gives voice to the people exposed to this violence. Background on the topic

March 2021

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Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers uproot trees in Palestinian farmer’s plot, planted their own trees in another’s and used soldiers to help them drive him away.

On 20 March 2021, at around 2:00 P.M., Shenar ‘Amer, a 37-year-old married father of five from Qaryut, arrived at a plot of land he leases from another village resident. The plot lies south of the village, several hundred meters from where the settlements of Shilo and Shvut Rachel were built.

When he arrived, ‘Amer saw settlers had planted about 20 citrus trees in the plot and put up metal barrels around them. He began removing the barrels, and then the security coordinator of the settlement of Shilo showed up and told him to leave. In the meantime, a car with three other settlers arrived along with a military jeep. The settlers claimed they owned the land, and the soldiers ordered ‘Amer to present them with ownership documents, which he had not brought with him. Fearful of confronting the settlers and soldiers, ‘Amer had no choice but to return home. The next day, the settlers put the barrels back around the trees they had planted in the plot. ‘Amer asked the plot owner to file a police complaint.

Three days later, Bilal Badawi (44), a father of four, arrived at his plot, which lies about a kilometer southeast of the plot leased by ‘Amer (and about 300 meters from the settlement of Shvut Rachel). When Badawi arrived, he discovered settlers had damaged the fence encircling his plot and uprooted about 50 young olive trees he planted several months earlier. Badawi informed the Shvut Rachel security guard, who arrived at the plot, as well as the Qaryut Village Council and the Palestinian DCO. He also filed a complaint with the Binyamin police.

B’Tselem documented another case of settler interference with farmland belonging to a resident of Qaryut in early March 2021. Residents of Qaryut suffer from repeated settler harassment in this area. Multiple settlements and outposts have been established around the village - Shilo, Shvut Rachel, Eli, Ahiya, Nof Harim, Hayovel, Hakaron and Giv’at Harel.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Shenar ‘Amer recounted the attempted takeover of his plot and how the soldiers had backed the settlers:

I came to the plot I’ve been leasing for years from another village resident. I grow wheat and barley there, and was going to plow that day. When I got there, I saw metal barrels had been put up around about 20 citrus saplings in the plot. I realized right away that settlers had put them up and started removing the barrels and throwing them aside.

Suddenly, the security coordinator of the settlement of Shilo, which is located 300 meters away from the plot, showed up and asked me what I was doing and why I was there. I told him it was my plot, and he told me to get lost or there would be trouble. Meanwhile, three settlers came by car, escorted by a military jeep that had been standing on the Shilo settlement “security road.” One of the settlers said he owned the land. I told him: “No way is this your land! It’s our land!” What I meant was that the land belongs to Palestinians, because someone from the village owns it. I’ve been working in farming with my father since I was a child, and I know all the plots and their owners.

The settler and I got into an argument and eventually, the soldiers demanded I show them ownership papers, which, of course, I didn’t have on me. It never crossed my mind to bring the papers to plow. I had to go because I was scared and I was facing the settlers, the security coordinator, the settlement and the soldiers all alone.

I told the owner of the plot what had happened and asked him to file a complaint, out of concern that the settlers would take over the land and deny us access to it.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Bilal Badawi spoke about the damage the settlers had done to his fence and about the trees they uprooted:

I came to the plot to tend to the olive trees I planted in November 2020. At the time, I bought 75 five-year-old trees, and I put a fence up around the plot to protect them from settler aggression and wild animals. I discovered the fence had been cut in several spots and that some of the tree trunks had been broken and others had been uprooted. I froze on the spot and didn’t know what to do. Two days before that, on 21 March 2021, I went there and saw footprints and signs that someone had tried to damage the chicken wire fence.

While I was standing there, the security coordinator of the settlement of Shvut Rachel drove up and asked me what happened. After I told him, he left. I called the council and told them what happened, and then two members of the council came to the plot. I filed a complaint with the Palestinian DCO and went to file a complaint with the Israeli police too, at the Binyamin station, even though I know they won’t take it seriously. I still wanted what happened to be documented.

If a Palestinian tried to get into the settlement security area, they would have turned the world upside down. He’d be caught or maybe even shot. But they belittle anything the settlers do to the Palestinians and don’t consider it important at all.

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Hamad Krishan's cars on fire after being torched by settlers. Beit Iksa, 19 March 2021. Photo by Hamad Krishan
Hamad Krishan's cars on fire after being torched by settlers. Beit Iksa, 19 March 2021. Photo by Hamad Krishan

Beit Iksa, al-Quds District: Settlers torch cars belonging to local resident and graffiti wall

On 19 March 2021, at around 2:00 A.M., Hammad Krishan, a 46-year-old father of eight, was woken by noise outside his house. When he went outside, he saw both his cars, which were parked out front, on fire. Krishan called the Palestinian fire department, but it took them more than half an hour to arrive, as they had to coordinate passage through the checkpoint at the entrance to the village. The Israel Police arrived and collected statements from Krishan and other residents. After a sweep of the area, the residents and the police found “Regards from Ahuvia” spray-painted on a wall in the village.

Since 16-year-old Israeli Ahuvia Sandak died during a police chase near the settlement of Kochav Hashachar on 21 December 2020, the number of violent settler attacks against Palestinians – a matter of routine in the West Bank – has sharply risen.

The Palestinian village of Beit Iksa is located northwest of Jerusalem, inside the West Bank and just outside Jerusalem’s municipal borders. In 2010, the military put up a permanent checkpoint at the only entrance to the village, and have since allowed entry into the village only to individuals whose IDs indicate they are registered as local residents or by special permit.

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Burin, Nablus District: Soldiers escort settlers stoning residents and fire tear gas and “rubber bullets” at residents who try to make them leave

On 13 March 2021, Burin resident Muntasser Mansur was working on construction of his house along with another village resident. At around 2:30 P.M., some 20 settlers arrived escorted by about six soldiers, and started throwing stones at the house. Mansur and his friend went outside and tried to make them leave by throwing stones, yet to no avail. One of the settlers fired two shots with his gun, one of which hit the wall behind Mansur, and the two men had to flee towards the village homes.

Meanwhile, village residents gathered round the house. Some of them, along with Mansur and his friend, tried to drive the settlers away by throwing stones. At that point, some of the settlers continued to throw stones at the house while others started chasing the residents. The soldiers, by then joined by more forces, fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas at the residents, who had no choice but to retreat.

The house the settlers stoned lies several hundred meters east of the other houses in the village, and the settlement of Har Bracha and the settlement outpost of Sneh Ya’akov (Giv’at Ronen) were established about a kilometer from it.

The residents of Burin, which is hemmed in by the settlements of Har Bracha and Yitzhar, have been suffering settler attacks for years. In the 1980s, the settlement of Yitzhar was established about a kilometer south of the village and the settlement of Har Bracha was established about a kilometer northeast of the village – both on land belonging to Burin and to neighboring villages.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Muntasser Mansur (31), a father of one and a bus driver, recounted how the settlers attacked his half-built house with army backing:

On 13 March 2021, at around 2:30 P.M., I was working on construction of my house together with another resident of the village. Suddenly, about 20 settlers showed up and started throwing stones at the house. I immediately called my family to tell them what was going on, because I was afraid. There were a lot of settlers there, and about six to eight soldiers guarding them who did nothing to stop them. We tried to defend ourselves and threw stones back, but they outnumbered us and one of them had a gun.

One of the settlers fired two shots with his gun, and one of the bullets hit the wall behind me. I realized our lives were in danger. We went outside and started running towards the village. After we went some way, we stopped and watched the settlers. Then some other residents arrived, and together with them we tried to make the settlers leave by throwing stones. Some of the settlers continued throwing stones at the house, and others started chasing us along with the soldiers, who fired “rubber” bullets and tear gas at us. Meanwhile, four military jeeps arrived and more soldiers got out. They also fired “rubber” bullets and tear gas at us. The residents had to draw back. I stayed on the lookout, to watch what they were doing to my house, and saw they were damaging it.

This isn’t the first time they’ve attacked the house. It’s happened several times before, and every time I’ve had to fix what they destroyed. It’s cost me tens of thousands of shekels. They clearly want to expand the settlement of Har Bracha on our land, and therefore want to prevent any new construction in the area. I can’t take these losses any more. I have a family to support and rent to pay. No one can stand these attacks. Every time they attacked and destroyed something in the house, I felt it in my body. It’s an injustice that no one can tolerate – watching your home under attack by settlers guarded by armed soldiers who fire at anyone who comes close. They are free to do as they please. They build houses and roads and create parks wherever they want, and we can’t even build on our own land.

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The al-Haj family’s car, damaged by settlers in Bruqin, 6 Mar. 2021
The al-Haj family’s car, damaged by settlers in Bruqin, 6 Mar. 2021

Bruqin, Salfit District: Settlers vandalize car of family spending time on their farmland

On 6 March 2021, at around midday, Hatem al-Haj (66), his wife and their children went to their plot, which stretches over 11 dunams of land [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters]. The settlement of Bruchin was established south of the plot.

While the family was spending time on their land, about five settlers arrived and began to vandalize their car, which was parked about 200 meters away. The settlers punctured the tires, smashed the windows with stones and damaged the chassis. Al-Haj, who heard and saw the settlers vandalizing his car, ran towards them to drive them away, and the settlers fled towards the settlement of Bruchin. The family had to call a tow truck to transport the car back to the village, and the repairs will be expensive. 

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The agricultural structure destroyed by settlers in Shadi Sai’d’s grove, Kafr a-Dik, 4 Mar. 2021
The agricultural structure destroyed by settlers in Shadi Sai’d’s grove, Kafr a-Dik, 4 Mar. 2021

Kafr a-Dik, Salfit District: Settlers destroy agricultural structure recently set up in villager’s grove

On Thursday, 4 March 2021, during the daytime, Shadi Sai’d (41) went to his grove north of the village and discovered that settlers had destroyed an agricultural structure he had put up about a month ago. During the construction, several settlers had come to the site and photographed the works.  

The settlement of Bruchin was established about 500 meters east of Sa’id’s plot.

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Fence destroyed by settlers in Qaryut, 2 March 2021. Photo by Muhammad al-Boum
Fence destroyed by settlers in Qaryut, 2 March 2021. Photo by Muhammad al-Boum

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers invade plot, damage fence and irrigation lines, cut down olive saplings and uproot vegetables

On 2 March 2021, at around 12:30 P.M., father of five Muhammad al-Boum (45) arrived at his plot with his two sons, aged 5 and 12. Al-Boum grows vegetables and olive saplings on the land, which lies on the southern side of the village. Upon arrival, he was surprised to discover the water lines and some of the barbed wire fence he had put up around the plot vandalized, 13 olive saplings cut down, and dozens of vegetable seedlings uprooted.

The settlement of Shilo was built about 500 meters south of the plot.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Muhammad al-Boum spoke about the damage caused by settlers who are trying to drive him off the land:

We went to the plot to pick some spinach. I planted 16 olive saplings there in 2018, and every season I sow vegetable seeds in it, too. This year, I sowed spinach, fava beans, cauliflower, red cabbage and lettuce.

When we arrived, I saw that the iron fence I’d put up around the plot to protect it from wild boars had been cut. When I entered the plot, I discovered that 13 of the olive saplings had been cut down and many of the vegetable seedlings had been uprooted. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve been waiting and looking forward to the trees’ yield. This year or next year, they were supposed to start bearing fruit. The vegetable seedlings had also grown and should have been ready for harvesting in about two weeks. They even cut my irrigation lines.

I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to tell my young son, Hamad, when he asked me who had done it. The plot is close to the settlement of Shilo, and no one but the settlers could have done such a thing. I don’t know what to do or whom I can turn to for help. They left nothing. They ruined three years’ worth of work. I called the village council and took photos of the damage. After that, I couldn’t bear to stay there anymore and went home.

We live and provide for ourselves under difficult conditions, without anyone’s help. We have no roads, no assistance, no compensation. In fact, we put most of our efforts into continuing to work the land and holding on to it, even though we don’t really have the financial means to do that. Holding on to the land so settlers don’t take it over is the most important thing for me. Now I have to plant new olive trees. I’ve lost some of the vegetable crops, and I’ll have to replace the irrigation lines and the fence, too.

 

Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers again attack homes and damage parked cars

On the night of 2 March 2021, about five settlers entered the southern neighborhood of the village. They stoned two homes, smashed the windshields of two parked cars, and fled when residents came out of their homes to defend their property. This is not the first time settlers have attacked these homes. On 23 December 2020, dozens of masked settlers raided the village, threw stones at the two homes and smashed the windshields of three cars parked on the street.

The settlements of Shilo and Shvut Rachel and the outposts of Ahiya and Esh Kodesh were established about a kilometer from the village. Since October 2020, B’Tselem has documented seven cases in which settlers damaged residents’ property;this is the fifth published on our blog.

A car window smashed by settlers under the Dmeidi family home, Huwarah, 2 Mar. 2021. Photo courtesy of the Dmeidi family
A car window smashed by settlers under the Dmeidi family home, Huwarah, 2 Mar. 2021. Photo courtesy of the Dmeidi family

Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers invade yard, pelt it with stones and vandalize parked cars

On 2 March 2021, at around 11:00 P.M., dozens of settlers invaded the yard of the Demeidi family home, located in the southwestern side of the town of Huwarah, and pelted it with stones.

The settlers smashed four of the home’s windows, splashed paint on its walls and broke roof tiles installed above the front door. In addition, they severely vandalized a car parked in the yard: smashing its windows, puncturing its tires, breaking the headlights and the sideview mirrors, and damaging the chassis.

Later that night, a resident of the town, whose car was parked about 100 meters away from the Demeidis’ home, discovered that settlers had smashed its windshield.

Since the beginning of 2020, B’Tselem has documented 12 settler attacks on residents, homes, and property in the town of Huwarah.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Ghaleb Demeidi (48), a married father of five, described the attack on his home by settlers:  

I was sitting in the living room with my wife Sanaa, our four children, and Karam, my daughter Raghad’s (21) fiancée. Suddenly, we heard a commotion outside and sounds of stones landing like heavy rain. We didn’t understand what was going on. We heard glass shattering. Glass flew into the house and we heard pounding on the front door, which is made of metal. It was terrifying! I didn’t know what to do. I looked out the kitchen window and saw about 20 to 30 settlers in our yard. Some of them were wrecking my daughter’s fiancée, Karam’s car, and others were throwing stones at the house.

I went up to the roof with Karam and we yelled at the settlers from there and called the neighbors. My wife called our relatives and friends to come and protect us because when the settlers see people gathering, they get spooked and leave. And that’s exactly what happened – when they saw our relatives, friends, and us, they started moving away towards the settlement of Yitzhar.

We were totally shocked by what happened. The quantity of stones that were in the yard and on the front steps was unbelievable, and the noise they caused was terrifying.

After about half an hour, the settlement security coordinator drove up with two military jeeps. They must have arrived because villagers who’d come to help us had gathered there with their cars. The settler and the soldiers asked us what had happened. We told them about what the settlers had done, but they didn’t care and left right away.

This wasn’t the first time settlers attacked our neighborhood. A few months ago, they attacked our neighbor’s house, and destroyed his car.

The settlement of Yitzhar was established about a kilometer from the attacked home.

February 2021

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A settler from Kfar Adumim trying to drive out shepherds from Khan al-Ahmar, 28 Feb. 2021
A settler from Kfar Adumim trying to drive out shepherds from Khan al-Ahmar, 28 Feb. 2021

Khan al-Ahmar school community, East of Jerusalem: Settlement security guard throws stones at shepherds and their flock

In the morning hours of 28 February 2021, two shepherds from the community were herding their flock about 400 meters northwest of the community’s homes. At around 9:00 A.M., a security guard from the settlement of Kfar Adumim arrived in his car and drove alongside the flock, frightening and scattering it. The guard got out of his car with a dog and began throwing stones at the shepherds and the flock. The shepherds were forced to gather the flock and return it to the community.

The settlement of Kfar Adumim was established about a kilometer from the community of Khan al-Ahmar.  

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher ‘Amer ‘Aruri on 13 March 2021, Muhammad Abu Dahuk (16), a shepherd from the community, recounted his harassment by Kfar Adumim’s security guard:

Every day at 8:00 A.M., My friend and I take our sheep to pastureland near our Bedouin community. A month and a half ago, the security guard of the nearby Kfar Adumim settlement started harassing us and preventing us from reaching the pasture on the pretext that the valley separating the settlement and our community is the settlement’s territory.  

The settler usually comes in his car and drives around the flock, scaring and scattering the sheep. Sometimes he even gets out of his car and throws stones at us. The guard is armed, of course, and that scares me a lot because it could develop into a situation where he’ll open fire, God forbid.

My friend and I run away as soon as we see him coming and then return after he leaves. But he comes back every time and drives the sheep and us away on our way back to the community. One time, he chased us until the sheep entered the pen. A lot of times he also drives his car into our community, even when we’re inside our homes. I don’t know why.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher ‘Amer ‘Aruri on 13 March 2021, Qassem Jahalin (15), another shepherd from the community, related:

I’m scared to go out to graze the flock. I really feel my life’s in danger, mainly because this settler is armed. But I don’t have anywhere else to go to because the areas that are more than 400 meters away from the community have been defined as firing zones. If I go there, the Nature and Parks Authority workers might come and drive us away. It happened to my father and other people from the community in the past. That’s why the current pasture, which is 400 meters from our community, is the only place left, especially since we can bring water from the community in case the sheep are thirsty.

Purim 2021 in central Hebron: Settlers from Beit Hadassah harass family and throw objects at nearby house. Later that day, settlers violently raid Wadi a-Nasarah neighborhood, smashing windows and trying to break into apartment

On Sunday afternoon, during the Jewish holiday of Purim, 28 February 2021, about 10 settlers, including men, women, and children, stood on the balcony of the settlement of Beit Hadassah in central Hebron. Some of them began throwing stones and bottles at the nearby Abu Haya family home and swore at its residents. Routine.

About an hour later, about 10 settlers, some holding liquor bottles, tried to enter the Palestinian neighborhood of Wadi a-Nasarah, which lies several dozen meters away from the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Dozens of soldiers came to the scene and tried to block the settlers’ way without using any force. The settlers rioted and clashed with neighborhood residents who had come out of their homes and threw stones at the settlers to fend them off.

The settlers smashed the windshield of Thaer Da’na’s (21) car, and climbed over the gate of his family’s home in an attempt to break in. Immediately after, some 10 settlers entered the house next door and went up to its second floor. Wafa Da’na (44) and her nine young children were there at the time. The settles smashed a glass window in the front door with an iron bar, while other settlers standing on the street hurled stones at the house, smashing two of its windows and the glass door of the balcony. The settlers’ attempt to break into the apartment was ultimately unsuccessful and they were removed from the building by several soldiers about 10 minutes later.

The settlers remained in the neighborhood, rioting until around 6:30 P.M., and only then were they cleared out by the police.

That night, at around 3:00 A.M., several soldiers came to the neighborhood, entered homes, and arrested three residents, claiming settlers had filed complaints against them: Thaer Da’na, whose car was vandalized, Adham Da’na (33), a father of three, who was away from the neighborhood at the time of the incident, and Mustafa Da’na (20).  The following day, at around noon, the three were taken for interrogation at the Kiryat Arba police station and released a few hours later. Thaer Da’na was released on bail and a court hearing in his case was scheduled for about a year from now. The other two were released without charge.

The following testimonies were collected by B’Tselem field researchers Manal al-Ja’bari and Musa Abu Hashhsash regarding the severe incidents on Purim:

In her testimony, Narmin Abu Haya (39), a mother of five from central Hebron, spoke about how the harassment of her family by Beit Hadassah settlers, the hurling of objects, and the swearing:

On 28 February 2021, at around 3:00 P.M., we were sitting with my family at home, when we heard loud music and voices in Hebrew coming from the settlement of Beit Hadassah. I looked out the window and saw several settlers: men, women, and children of all ages, who were on the balcony of the settlement. When the settlers saw me, they started swearing at me, and Arabs in general, and throwing empty bottles at our house. All of this happened in front of the soldiers that were at the guard post near the settlement.  

For about four hours, the settlers threw stones, bottles and trash at our home. In the end, more soldiers came and approached the area, and then the settlers stopped throwing objects at us. But still, they continued dancing, screaming, and playing loud music into the night. It terrified my young children and bothered us all. We couldn’t sleep until late at night.

In her testimony, Wafa Da’na (41), a mother of nine and resident of Wadi a-Nasarah in Hebron, recalled the settlers’ violent attempted invasion of her home:

We constantly suffer from attacks by settlers from Kiryat Arba, who throw stones at our house and at the children on the street, especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays. The last incident happened on 28 February 2021, at around 5:30 P.M. I was at home and heard shouting. My children, Diaa (12) and Hamid (7) were outside, so I went out quickly and saw about 10 settlers in their twenties who were attacking homes on the street and damaging our neighbor’s car. I saw that the settlers were holding bottles, some empty and some full, and a few young guys from the neighborhood who were trying to drive them away.  

I gathered my children, we went inside, went up to the second floor, and closed the door. I was so scared that I pushed one of the sofas and blocked the door with it. I saw through the door’s glass window about 10 settlers who had come up the stairs and started hitting the door with an iron bar. They broke the door’s window. At the same time, stones hit the window facing the street, shattering the glass and the glass door of the balcony. The children started crying and screaming and trembling with fear. I tried to calm them down and took them to their room. I also started screaming from inside the door and calling for help. The settlers tried to open our front door for a few minutes until some soldiers went up and took them down to the street. They stayed in the street until the evening and then the soldiers and the police officers drove them away.

In her testimony, Thaer’s mother, S. (46), a mother of six from the Wadi a-Nasarah neighborhood of Hebron, recounted the moments of horror she experienced after the settlers’ attack:

I went out of the house with the children when I heard shouting in Hebrew. Neighborhood residents and about eight settlers in their twenties were out in the street. I think they were drunk because some of them were holding empty liquor bottles. I saw them breaking some masonry and throwing stones at the windshield of my son’s car, which was parked in front of our home. I saw several settlers fighting with my son Thaer, while others tried to attack my son Bilal (18), but I managed to get him away from them. Four soldiers tried to arrest Bilal and tore his shirt, but I wrestled him away from them, too. I took him inside the house and closed the door.

At around 3:00 A.M., I woke up to loud knocking on the door. I woke up my three sons and told them to get dressed because I assumed these were soldiers raiding our home. I opened the door and about 10 soldiers went in and spread out in the house. They didn’t find the boys because they ran out the back door after I woke them. A few minutes later, three soldiers came, holding my three sons, and then they led Thaer out of the house. My sister-in-law and I tried to wrestle Thaer away from them and followed them out into the street, but we were unsuccessful. I saw that the soldiers had arrested more young men. I was worried about Thaer. He’s nearly blind in one eye and about a week ago, he fell and broke his hand.  

The soldiers took him and the other young men to the police station in Kiryat Arba, even though the police officers saw Thaer’s car that the settlers had vandalized.

In his testimony, Adham Da’na (33), a father of four from the Wadi a-Nasarah neighborhood of Hebron, described his false arrest following a complaint by settlers who raided his neighborhood:

On 28 February 2021, at around 6:30 P.M., I came back from work. The neighbors told me that settlers had attacked homes and cars. I went home and went to sleep early. At around 3:00 A.M., I heard knocking on the door and soldiers shouting, “Open up!”. The soldiers asked if I was Adham and told me to bring my ID card, and then a soldier told me that they were going to arrest me. They led me outside and put me in a jeep with two people in it – at first, I didn’t recognize them because of the blindfolds they put on them, but later I realized it was Thaer and Mustafa Da’na. The jeep drove us to the police station in Kiryat Arba.

They kept us at the station until the next day, and only started interrogating us at around noon. I was interrogated first – they accused me of attacking the settlers that came into the neighborhood. I denied it, of course, and told them that I didn’t get home from work until 6:30 P.M., and when I arrived, everything was calm and there were no settlers. The interrogator didn’t believe me and said that settlers had filed a complaint against me. I again explained to them that I wasn’t there during the incident and that they can look at the photos and videos that the residents had filmed. After more than an hour, I was released without charge. I waited until 5:00 P.M., and then they released the other two. I understood from Thaer that he was released on bail, without depositing money, and that they’d scheduled a trial for him in a year.

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A spike scattered by settlers on the road to 'Ein Samia, 26 Feb. 2021. Photo by Muhammad Ka'baneh
A spike scattered by settlers on the road to 'Ein Samia, 26 Feb. 2021. Photo by Muhammad Ka'baneh

Ein Samia, Ramallah District: Settlers scatter spikes at junction, puncturing tires of Palestinian tractor

On 26 February 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., Muhammad Ka’abneh (72) who lives on a farm in the ‘Ein Samia area, was driving his tractor on an agricultural road, which is used by Palestinians only, leading from ‘Ein Samia to the Alon Road. When he approached the junction near the village of Kafr Malik, his tractor drove over spikes that settlers had scattered on the road, puncturing two of its tires.  

Ka’abneh got out of the tractor, picked up about 10 spikes he found scattered on the road, and reported the incident to the Palestinian DCO.

This is the second time this year that B’Tselem has documented settlers scattering spikes on a Palestinian-only road in Ramallah District.

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Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers invade livestock enclosure, damage it, and make off with eight lambs

On Wednesday morning, 24 February 2021, Hisham Hamud (62), a married father of nine, came to his livestock enclosure, which lies about 300 meters away from the village. Upon arrival, , he discovered that settlers had cut the barbed wire fence he stretched around the enclosure and stole eight lambs.

Over the past six months, B’Tselem has documented six settler attacks against residents of Jalud. This time, the damage caused to Hamud’s enclosure is estimated at 10,000 NIS (~3,032 USD).

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Hamud recounted the invasion and the theft:

When I came to the enclosure at around 4:15 A.M., I heard bleating and found one lamb walking around the olive trees. I was amazed that she got there because the enclosure is surrounded by barbed wire. I discovered that the barbed wire fence had been cut and that the enclosure itself had been damaged. I went in and found out that all eight of my lambs, who were born a few months ago, had been stolen. I called the head of the village council and told him what had happened. At around 8:00 A.M., representatives of the Palestinian police, the Palestinian DCO, and the Israeli police arrived, took my statement, and photographed the scene. They told me they’d update me on the investigation developments and asked me to file a complaint at the Binyamin police station. The next day, I went to the station and filed a complaint, and they again told me that they’d update me, but to this day, no one has gotten back to me.

My sheep cost me a lot of money, and I invested a lot of work in them. I always wait for Ramadan to sell them, and I expected to sell the lambs that were stolen for at least 10,000 shekels.

The settlement outpost of Ahiya was established about 300 meters away from Hamud’s livestock enclosure.

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Settlers destroying cars of Palestinian workers parked outside Shilo to work in the settlement, 18 Feb. 2021
Settlers destroying cars of Palestinian workers parked outside Shilo to work in the settlement, 18 Feb. 2021

Settlement of Shilo, Ramallah District: Settlers vandalize Palestinian workers’ cars parked in lot outside settlement

In the morning hours of 18 February 2021, about 10 settlers were recorded on the security cameras of the settlement of Shilo as they smashed the windshields and punctured the tires of about 10 cars. The damaged cars belonged to Palestinians who work in the settlement but are not allowed to enter it by car.

At around 2:00 P.M., the workers were called to the parking lot outside the settlement. after, Shilo’s security coordinator arrived there as well, and claimed he did not know when the cars were vandalized and by whom. This was despite the fact he had access to footage of the incident, which was later published in the media. Police officers who were called to the scene assessed the damage, ordered the workers to remove their cars, and suggested they file a complaint at the Binyamin police station.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, one of the workers recounted what happened:

On 18 February 2021, I came to work as usual and parked my car in the lot, as other Palestinian workers and I do every day because we’re not allowed to bring our cars inside. I started working, and everything was normal. At around 2:00 P.M., the Jewish contractor called me and asked me to come to my car in the lot because there was some problem. When I got there, I discovered that my car had been damaged. The windshield and the rear window were destroyed, and all four tires were punctured. The settlement security coordinator was there, as well as several Jewish contractors and Palestinian workers. I asked the coordinator what happened. He said that he didn’t know, and it was probably young guys who came from outside the settlement and damaged the cars. He didn’t say when it happened exactly, although it turned out that there’s footage of the incident on the security cameras. It must have taken them a while to damage all the cars, and the guard didn't stop them!

The Israeli police came, and the officers checked the damage and asked the car owners to take them away. They said whoever wanted to file a complaint should go to the Binyamin police station. I asked the other workers for help, and they drove me to the village to get spare tires to take my car away. I cleaned the glass shards strewn inside the car as much as I could and found four stones, each the size of an orange. It took me two hours before I was able to get out of there with the car and drive back to the village. Repairing the car cost me 4,000 shekels (~1,212 USD).

I didn’t file a complaint with the Israeli police because my car was also damaged at the same spot about two years ago, and then I went to the police and wasted a whole day. In the end, they closed the case for lack of evidence.

On top of the financial losses, I was fired from my job two days ago. I don’t know if it’s related to the incident or not, but now I’m unemployed, too. I’m married and don’t have children yet, but I help my parents. And now I don’t know how I’ll make a living. 

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A shed settlers set up near Sati Abu Fkheidah’s plot, al-Janiyah, 15 Feb. 2020. Photo courtesy of the witness
A shed settlers set up near Sati Abu Fkheidah’s plot, al-Janiyah, 15 Feb. 2020. Photo courtesy of the witness

Al-Janiyah, Ramallah District: Settlers uproot and break 15 olive trees after erecting roofed shelter nearby

On 15 February 2021, Sati Abu Fkheidah (66), a father of nine, discovered settlers had uprooted and broken 15 olive trees he had planted seven years earlier. His land lies on the slopes of a hill about two kilometers northwest of the village.

Several months ago, settlers put up a roofed shelter at the foot of the hill.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Abu Fkheidah described the damage the settlers caused him:

When I went to the land to check on the trees, I saw two settlers in dark clothing, covering their faces with shirts. I saw them heading away from the groves towards the shelter they put up. I was afraid to chase them because sometimes they’re armed.

I held back and kept quiet, even though I felt terribly frustrated when I saw all my work gone down the drain. I bought seedlings that were 5 to 6 years old, and each cost 60 to 70 shekels (~18-21 USD). They’d grown and were about to yield fruit. I put iron rods around each one and stretched an iron net between them to protect them from deer and wild boars. The settlers uprooted the rods and nets, too.

I couldn’t do anything. I called the Palestinian DCO and told them what happened. They apparently informed the Israeli DCO, who called me in the afternoon and told me they were planning to come inspect the damage and investigate the incident. Right now, I’m waiting for them to arrive, even though I have no expectations from the pointless investigations by the military or the Israeli police. They usually have connections with the settlers and they cover up their crimes.

Since they put up that shelter, the owners of nearby plots and I have lived in fear of damage to our crops and physical assaults against us if we go to our land. We keep hearing reports about settler attacks everywhere.

The settlement outpost of Neriya was established about 500 meters away from Abu Fkheidah’s plot. Since then, residents of the village of Ras Karkar, whose lands lie next to the outpost, have also reported settlers damaging their crops.

Sa'id Kuk's razed plot of land, Turmusaya, 15 Feb. 2021. Photo by Sa'id Kuk
Sa'id Kuk's razed plot of land, Turmusaya, 15 Feb. 2021. Photo by Sa'id Kuk

Turmusaya, Ramallah District: Settlers rake and destroy farmland belonging to local resident, as part of a gradual takeover of his land

On 15 February 2021, Sa’id Kuk (61), a married father of eight from the village of Turmusaya, discovered that settlers had raked, razed and damaged about 60 dunams (1 dunam = 1,000 square meters) of land he and his family own.
Kuk filed a complaint at the Binyamin Police station on 11 March 2021.

Over the past year, as of April 2020, B’Tselem has documented 18 settler attacks against Turmusaya residents and their property.

In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Kuk spoke about the settlers’ gradual takeover of his land:

On 15 February 2021, I discovered settlers had raked a large part of my land. They razed the entire plot – probably ahead of the outpost’s expansion and the takeover of our 60 dunams. I contacted the Palestinian DCO to file a complaint and applied to human rights organizations and the ICRC for help, but no one helped me. On 11 March 2021, I filed a complaint with the Israel Police. They registered my complaint but I’m not putting too much stock in it. I have filed complaints before, to no avail.

That’s the way it is – they’re taking over our land. It’s an ongoing ordeal of aggression and unending settlement expansion. The land they took over is the thing that’s dearest to us. They destroyed my dream and my sons’ dream to return to the land for construction or recreation. This situation is why my sons prefer to emigrate and work in the US, because they’ve been left no option to work the land or build on it here. The actions of the settlers limit their hopes and aspirations here.

Whenever the settlers do something more to take over the land, it feels like amputating parts of my body. They sever the memories, my history with the land. We grew up in this land. We lived off it, and spent our childhood and youth there. We have beautiful, sweet memories with our parents and relatives during the harvest. We’d spend weeks and months there, sometimes. They destroyed our way of life and wiped out our plans for the future.

In 1981, I went to work in the States with my family, but I came back to the village every summer, to spend the summer holiday here and improve the soil in my plot. Five years ago, I moved back here, even though I have seven married sons and daughters who work and live there with their families. They come to visit every once in a while, but I want to stay here now, to be close to my land, and to try and protect what’s left of it as much as I can.

All the residents of this area suffer daily. The settlers and the settlements have become a nightmare that mars every moment of our lives. We have nothing left to do but put our faith in God and pray that they leave.

The settlement outpost of Ami Hai was built about 500 meters away from the Kuk family land in 2018. It is located near the older settlement outpost of Adei Ad.

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Naser ‘As’us with his minibus, which settlers pelted with stones near ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 14 February 2021. Photo courtesy of the witness
Naser ‘As’us with his minibus, which settlers pelted with stones near ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 14 February 2021. Photo courtesy of the witness

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers stone Palestinian minibus that took a wrong turn [due to roadworks]

On 14 February 2021, at around 4:30 P.M., four settlers stoned a Palestinian minibus with 15 passengers onboard near the ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah water tower. The minibus driver had taken a wrong turn onto the dirt road leading to the spot, as the main road was blocked due to roadworks. The settlement of Yitzhar was built about 700 meters away from the water tower.

As the driver tried to turn the minibus around, the settlers smashed one of its windows and damaged the body. The driver stopped the minibus and got out along with several passengers. The settlers then fled toward Yitzhar.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 7 March 2021, the minibus driver, Naser ‘As’us, 51, a married father of six from the village of Burin, spoke about the attack on his minibus:

I own the Bisan transport company together with a resident of the village of ‘Urif. I also work for the company as a minibus driver on the ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah – ‘Urif – Nablus line.

On Sunday, 14 February 2021, at around 4:30 P.M., I was driving from Nablus to ‘Urif and went through ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah to drop off passengers. I let them off and was planning to continue to ‘Urif on the road I take every day, but I discovered it was closed for roadworks. I took a side road and at some point, realized I had taken a wrong turn. There was no way to turn around and go back, so I kept driving until I got close to the ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah water tower on the south side of the village, where I started turning around to head back.

Suddenly, four settlers came out of the generator room near the tower and started throwing stones at the minibus. The sound of the glass shattering was like an explosion. The passengers shouted and screamed. There were 15 passengers on the bus, mostly women and children, and only five men. I stopped the minibus and the passengers and I got out and started running away. Then the settlers ran away towards the settlement.

We got back in the minibus and I drove on. When we were far enough from the area, I stopped and checked the minibus. Thank God, the damage wasn’t serious – one window was broken and a few stones hit the body, but thank God, none of the passengers were hurt because the seat next to the broken window had been empty. I drove the passengers home to ‘Urif and returned to my village, Burin. Tomorrow I’ll have to fix the window, because you can’t leave an open window in this cold weather.

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Wadi Ejheish, South Hebron Hills: Armed settlers invade community and threaten families under pretext of seeking stolen item

On Friday afternoon, 12 February 2021, four settlers came to the community of Wadi Ejheish. They parked and got out of their car. One was bearing a rifle and the other a taser baton, and they had a large dog with them. The armed settler threatened to shoot anyone who came near and released the dog. He declared that people riding in a resident’s car had stolen something from his car. The settlers searched the car in question and when they did not find the allegedly stolen item, left the area.

The next day, several community residents went to the police station in Kiryat Arba to file a complaint. After the officers did not allow them in and ordered them to wait outside for about two hours, they returned home. The following day, the residents again went to the station, and this time the officers allowed them to file a complaint.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem researcher Musa Abu Hashhash, Raed Rawashdeh (39), a community resident and father of six, recounted what happened that day:

I was at home when I suddenly heard shouting in Arabic and in Hebrew. I went outside to see what was going on and saw four settlers standing around one of the cars. They were arguing with relatives of mine. One of the settlers accused them of stealing something from him while riding in that car.

The settler said he wouldn’t leave until he found what they’d stolen. He waved his weapon in our faces and threatened to shoot, even though there were women and children standing around us. Another settler, who was holding a taser baton, waved it at the kids when they tried to come near. The settlers searched my relative’s car and didn’t find anything. They left after a heated argument that lasted about an hour.

The community of Wadi Ejheish lies southeast of the town of a-Samu’, and the settlement of Susiya was established about two kilometers east of it.

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Masafer Yatta, South Hebron Hills: Settlers attack shepherd and stone residents coming to her aid

On Thursday morning, 11 February 2021, Fatima a-Nawaj’ah (45), a resident of Khirbet Susiya, was grazing her flock on pastureland about 500 meters south of her village. Suddenly, the security coordinator of the settlement of Susiya arrived and ordered her to leave the area. When she refused, he returned to the settlement. At that point, two settlers arrived and began throwing stones at her from a position near a military tower, where a soldier was posted on that day. Several residents who heard a-Nawaj’ah’s cries for help came to the scene, but the two settlers managed to escape. Minutes later, five more settlers showed up from the settlement's direction and started throwing stones at the residents using slingshots, causing the latter to flee the area along with a-Nawaj’ah.  

The residents called the Israeli police, which arrived after the settlers had left the area. The officers suggested that the residents file a complaint, and one of them went to the police station in Kiryat Arba and filed a complaint.  

The settlement of Susiya was established about 200 meters away from the pastureland of Khirbet Susiya.

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Sh.R.’s four-year-old son, who was attacked by settlers while picking herbs in his company, Al-Fandaqumiyah, 10 Feb. 2021. Photo courtesy of the family.
Sh.R.’s four-year-old son, who was attacked by settlers while picking herbs in his company, Al-Fandaqumiyah, 10 Feb. 2021. Photo courtesy of the family.

Al-Fandaqumiyah, Jenin District: Settlers violently attack Palestinian women picking herbs with 4-year-old

On 10 February 2021, at around 2:00 P.M., S.R. set out to pick wild herbs along with her four-year-old son and her sister-in-law, Sh.R.

 At around 3:30 P.M., dozens of settlers came to the area where the women were picking the herbs. About 10 of them approached the women and began attacking them with stones and clubs. The settlers forcefully removed one of the women’s headscarves and attacked her until she fell down. The settlers left about 15 minutes later, stealing the herbs the women had gathered.
 
The injured women walked home, about a kilometer away. They were taken to the village clinic, where their bruises was examined and they were discharged.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researchers, S.R recounted the attack:

At around 2:00 P.M., I went with my sister-in-law and my four-year-old son, who’s on the autistic spectrum, to a hill near our neighborhood. I wanted to gather wild herbs such as Arum, Za’atar (Hyssop) and Cyclamen leaves we use for cooking.

About an hour and a half later, we saw about 40 settlers climbing the hill. Most of them were holding sticks or stones. They shouted at us and threw stones at us. Then about 10 settlers with shirts wrapped around their faces came over and started beating us with sticks. I was hit in the arm and the left thigh and fell down, but got up very quickly because I was worried about my son, who was scared and had started screaming.  

When I got up, there were four settlers around me. They all hit me with their sticks and kicked me, but they didn’t attack my son. I started calling for help in the hope someone would hear me.

At the same time, several settlers attacked my sister-in-law. I saw them take off her headscarf and try to strangle her with it while they hit her with sticks. She fell over and almost fainted.

After the settlers left, my sister-in-law barely managed to get up. She had bruises all over her body from the merciless beating by the barbaric settlers. My sister-in-law, my son and I went back home. My sister-in-law was barefoot because her shoe straps were torn when the settlers attacked her.

The settlement of Homesh was established near al-Fandaqumiyah in 1980. The settlement was evacuated in 2005 and a yeshiva now operates on the site.

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Nawal Isma’il in a grove where settlers uprooted olive seedlings, Qaryut, 7 Feb. 2021. Photo: Isma’il family
Nawal Isma’il in a grove where settlers uprooted olive seedlings, Qaryut, 7 Feb. 2021. Photo: Isma’il family

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers uproot some 20 olive seedlings in senior’s plot

On 7 February 2021, Nawal Isma’il (68), a widow and mother of seven, discovered settlers had uprooted some 20 olive seedlings she had planted two years ago in her land south of the village.

The security fence of the settlement of Shvut Rachel was erected near the plot.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Nawal Isma’il recounted the settlers’ damage to her property:

I come to my land every morning. That morning, when I arrived, I discovered that settlers had uprooted and broken all the olive seedlings. I went mad! They didn’t even leave a single little seedling. I planted them, and they just uprooted them and threw them away. I later found the uprooted seedlings tossed away far from the plot. I called my cousin, and his son Amir arrived and called Shvut Rachel’s security coordinator.

The security coordinator arrived about an hour later and spoke to Amir in Hebrew. He told Amir that he saw the people who uprooted the seedlings on the security cameras, and they weren’t from their settlement. He asked us not to report the incident because it would cause problems and said that he’d make sure it won't happen again if we didn't tell anyone.
I was hoping to replant the seedlings, but they broke them, and it wasn’t possible. I cared for and nurtured these seedlings like children. I felt sad for them and all the work I’d put into this plot.

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