On Thursday evening, 27 February 2020, a car with Israeli license plates blocked the main road in Huwarah (Road 60). Four settlers got out of the car and began shouting at the Palestinian drivers who had stopped behind them. Another car, also with Israeli license plates, stopped next to the first one, and an armed settler came out and threatened Palestinian passersby and drivers with his weapon to prevent them from approaching.
‘Ali ‘Aqel, 30, a resident of Huwarah, has a grocery store on the side of the road. At the time of the incident, ‘Aqel was helping a customer put groceries in his car, which was parked in front of the store. The two approached the settlers and asked them what they were doing. In response, one of the settlers pepper-sprayed them, forcing ‘Aqel and his customer to retreat. The settlers began throwing stones at the customer’s car, breaking its windshields.
The commotion brought four young men out of a nearby office, and the settlers threatened and pepper-sprayed them as well. Local residents gathered at the scene and started throwing stones at the settlers in order to get them to retreat.
At that point, the armed settler pointed his gun at the four men, and another pulled a pistol out of his car and fired several times in the air. The four men ran into the office as a settler chased them. They managed to lock the door and keep the settlers out.
Suhayb Dmeidi, 22, described what happened next to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Dib’i:
We ran back into the office, and then we heard six or seven bullets fired behind us. I heard glass shattering, but there was nothing I could do. I knew that if we went outside, they’d kill us. It was terrifying.
At that point, several military jeeps arrived at the scene, and the settlers got into their cars and left. The soldiers fired tear gas canisters at the Palestinians, forcing them to disperse. When the cloud of tear gas dissipated, the four men came out of the office and discovered that the settlers had shattered the windshields of two of their cars and those of three cars belonging to other residents.
The settlers returned shortly after, this time with a third car and three military jeeps. The settlers exited their vehicles and began throwing stones at Palestinian cars driving on the road, hitting three of them. The soldiers did not attempt to stop the settlers, and even fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters at the residents who exited their vehicles.
Three young men working in a nearby restaurant suffered from tear gas inhalation and were taken to a clinic in the village. Before the settlers left, they threw all the produce on display outside ‘Aqel’s store onto the road, causing damages worth 1,500 NIS.
Huwarah 27 February 2020: Rampage on the road, gunfire, car damage and destruction of goods - with military protection.