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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

July 2021

9

Jaber neighborhood, Hebron: Settlers harass residents for two days and attack them with stones and pepper spray in front of soldiers

On 9 July 2021, at around 8:30 P.M., about five teens from a settlement in Hebron entered the Jaber neighborhood in the city center. They began throwing stones at homes and pounding on doors. The teens shouted and swore at the residents in full view of soldiers, claiming stones had been thrown at them. Within minutes, they were joined by about 15 other settlers, many of them adults and at least two of them armed. The teens continued to throw stones at homes. The two armed settlers threatened resident Suzan Jaber, a volunteer with B'Tselem's camera project, who was filming the incident from her window. A police cruiser and two military jeeps arrived at the scene, but the officers and soldiers did not remove the settlers from the neighborhood or detain any of them.

At one point, five soldiers went up to the roof of Suzan Jaber's house and demanded that four members of her family, including two minors, go down to the street with them. The soldiers questioned the young Palestinians about stone-throwing and let them go after about 10 minutes. They then left the neighborhood along with the settlers.

In this incident, as in many other incidents B'Tselem has documented in Hebron and elsewhere in the West Bank, soldiers escorted violent settlers, allowed them to do as they pleased and threatened and harassed Palestinians.

In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari on 9 July 2021, Suzan Jaber, a mother of seven, recounted what happened that night:

Suzan Jaber
Suzan Jaber. Courtesy of witness.

On Friday, 9 July 2021, at around 8:30 P.M., I was sitting with my family on our balcony, which overlooks the street. We were eating and talking when suddenly, we heard noise and shouting outside. I quickly climbed the stairs to the roof and asked my daughter Hanin to get me my camera. When I got to the roof, I saw about five young settlers throwing stones at the neighbors' houses and pounding on the doors aggressively, including on the door of our neighbor, Wajih Jaber. There were about five soldiers on the street and they were trying to prevent the settlers from pounding on the doors, but not seriously. Instead, the soldiers prevented Wajih Jaber from reaching his house.

Meanwhile, about four young Palestinians started to verbally confront the settlers. More settlers arrived, two of them in their thirties and armed. The settlers started throwing stones in every direction, including at my house. I tried to film what was happening. The two armed settlers aimed their weapons at me. My son Ahmad pulled me inside the house, because he was afraid they'd shoot me.

A few minutes later, five soldiers came up to the roof and started accusing us of throwing stones at the settlers. I pointed to the table and told them we’d been sitting eating ice cream and hadn’t attacked anyone, and that the settlers were the ones who attacked us. One of the soldiers insisted on taking all the young guys who had been on the roof at that time down to the street. I refused at first, but my husband's cousin talked me into it. I kept on filming the soldiers while they led my sons, Muhammad (20) and Ahmad (13), and our relatives Mu'tasem (28) and Safwan (16) out to the street. The soldiers detained them there for about 10 minutes and let them go. Then the soldiers and settlers left the neighborhood.

Wajih Jaber (42), a father of seven, was out on the street when the settlers and soldiers entered the neighborhood. The soldiers prevented him from reaching his house, and a dog the settlers had with them tried to attack his wife, Ramyeh Jaber (37). In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari, Ramyeh Jaber related:

The settlers always attack us, especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays. The last time was on the evening of 9 July 2021. My husband Wajih was on the street with his friends and I was sitting in the yard with our three little girls, who are three, five and nine. I heard shouting and noise outside, and stones started landing in our yard. I opened the front gate, which leads to the street, to see what was going on. I saw a lot of young settlers. Some of them were attacking a young guy from the neighborhood in front of about five soldiers. One of the soldiers started yelling at me to go into the house and close the door. I saw my husband about 50 meters away, trying to get to the young guy and help him, but the soldiers were holding him back. I stayed standing in the doorway and asked the soldiers to allow my husband to get home.
 
Suddenly, a giant dog attacked me. It belonged to the settlers and had no leash or muzzle. I was terrified and tried to go back, but I fell down and was badly hit in the back of my head and in my right shoulder. My girls were screaming and crying in fear. Meanwhile, my husband arrived, picked the dog up and threw him aside. Then he helped me up. My right elbow hurt a lot. The next day, the settlers attacked neighborhood homes again.
 
My shoulder and wrist still hurt, and my girls are anxious and stressed. They're afraid to sleep without me and wet the bed at night.

The following evening, 10 July 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., more than 10 teens from the settlement came to the neighborhood, escorted by about 10 soldiers. They threw stones at homes and provoked residents. Young men and teens from the neighborhood who were sitting on the street swore back at them and confronted the soldiers who were protecting the settlers.
 
That evening, at around 8:30 P.M., about five settlers entered the neighborhood, escorted by a soldier, and verbally confronted young residents. One of the settlers pepper-sprayed Muhammad al-Ja'bari (13) in the face. Some of the spray reached the face of his grandfather, Nasser al-Ja'bari (62), who was standing next to him. A military ambulance and a police cruiser arrived at the scene, and the two were given first aid. One of the officers suggested Nasser al-Ja'bari file a complaint with the police against the settler who had attacked him and his grandson, but he refused.

In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari, Nasser al-Ja'bari recounted the settlers’ attack on 10 July 2021:

On Saturday, 10 July 2021, at around 8:00 P.M., I was on my way home when I saw five settlers between the ages of about 17 to 25, escorted by a soldier, harassing four or five young Palestinians from my extended family who were standing across from a barbershop opposite my house. The settlers were spitting at them. Meanwhile, more settlers arrived and a verbal argument developed. The settlers swore at the Palestinians and shouted that the houses belong to Jews, in the presence of the soldier who was with them and of several other soldiers who were on the street. When the young guys tried to respond, the soldier who was escorting the settlers cocked his weapon in their faces.

I tried to calm the guys down, because I was afraid the soldiers would shoot them. I also tried to persuade the settlers to move away. Meanwhile, my grandson Muhammad (13) arrived. Just then, one of the settlers turned around and pepper-sprayed him right in the face. I tried to protect Muhammad and some of the gas reached my face. I felt my eyes and face burning. Then a fight broke out between the young Palestinians and the settlers. The soldiers drove the Palestinians away and aimed their rifles at them. Many more settlers showed up and attacked the young guys, too. The soldiers tried to separate the guys from the settlers and moved the settlers away.

I went into a grocery store run by my brother, Bassem al-Ja'bari. My grandson Muhammad was already there. Some young guys were trying to help him and were washing his face with yogurt. A military ambulance arrived and the paramedics helped Muhammad. They put ointment on his face to ease the burning. A Red Crescent ambulance also arrived and the crew joined in the first aid. I was affected less badly than Muhammad. Meanwhile, an Israeli police car arrived and one of the officers suggested I file a complaint at an Israeli police station, but I saw no point. Settlers have attacked us dozens of times and I’ve filed complaints, all of which led to nothing. I thanked God it ended as it did. I was very scared when the soldiers, who were very agitated, pointed their weapons at the young guys. I was afraid they'd shoot them. There was no justification for the settlers' attack on the young guys. The night before, settlers had also attacked homes and passers-by in the neighborhood.

In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari, neighborhood resident Muhammad al-Ja'bari (13) described the settlers’ attack on 10 July 2021:

I was sitting in my uncle's clothing store on the ground floor of our building. It’s on the main street of the neighborhood, which leads to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. I heard noises outside and went out to the street to see what was going on. I saw about six of my relatives confronting about five settlers, who had a soldier with them. I crossed the road towards them. When I got close, one of the settlers pepper-sprayed me right in the face. My face and eyes immediately started to burn. Two young Palestinians picked me up and carried me to the grocery store of another one of my uncles. My face was burning and I was crying from the pain the whole time. They put yogurt on my face. Meanwhile, my grandfather Nasser (62), who was also hit by the pepper spray, came in. The young guys in the grocery store treated him. He got less of the spray than I did. A military ambulance arrived and the paramedics sprayed something on my face that helped me. Then a Red Crescent ambulance came, too. After about two hours, I went home and changed clothes. My face and eyes are still stinging.

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Muhammad a-Talhami after his release. Photo by Manal al-Ja’bari, B'Tselem,
Muhammad a-Talhami after his release. Photo by Manal al-Ja’bari, B'Tselem,

Central Hebron: Border Police and settlers attack family in Hebron during argument over crossing a checkpoint, arrest member and demand he not complain against a settler in exchange for releasing him

On 5 July 2021, sisters Rima and Iman a-Talhami were driving home within Hebron in the former’s car, which has Israeli license plates. Border Police officers at Checkpoint 160 inexplicably refused to let them through. In the ensuing argument, settlers joined in and one knocked Iman over. The officers beat her son Muhammad, arrested him and demanded the family not file a complaint in exchange for releasing him. Palestinians depend on the whims of security forces in Hebron and throughout the West Bank, and are familiar with this violent routine. Read more

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A man stands where the soldier stood when he shot Muhammad Hassan, who was on the house’s roof. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 5 July 2021
A man stands where the soldier stood when he shot Muhammad Hassan, who was on the house’s roof. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem, 5 July 2021

Qusrah, Nablus district: Muhammad Hassan attempted to defend his brother's house from an invasion of settlers and soldiers – and paid for it with his life

On 3 July 2021, settlers escorted by soldiers stoned homes in Qusrah, southeast of Nablus. The soldiers did not lift a finger to stop the attack, and the villagers tried to defend themselves by throwing stones. At one point, a soldier shot Muhammad Hassan in the shoulder, who was trying to defend his brother's home by throwing stones from its roof. As in other cases, in this instance too, settler violence is not a local, sporadic initiative but, rather, part of Israel's policy. Read more

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The stitches in Muslem Abu Hameid’s head. Photo courtesy of the witness.
The stitches in Muslem Abu Hameid’s head. Photo courtesy of the witness.

Maghayir al-‘Abid, Masafer Yatta: Settlers attack father and son laying a water line for the community, severely beating them with sticks and iron pipes

On 2 July 2021, at around 2:00 A.M., settlers attacked Muslem Abu Hameid (54) and his son Marwan (18), residents of the town of Yatta, with iron pipes and stones while the elder Abu Hameid was digging a trench for a water line several hundred meters south of the community of Maghayir al-‘Abid in Masafer Yatta, South Hebron Hills. After severely beating the two, injuring them, and smashing one of their car windows, the settlers fled the scene.

Another Palestinian working in the area drove the two in his car to a Red Crescent ambulance that took them to the ‘Alia Governmental Hospital in Hebron, where they were examined and X-rayed. The two suffered severe bruises to all parts of their body. Muslem was also wounded in the head and required stitches. At around 3:00 A.M., they were discharged, but Marwan had to return to the hospital after vomiting and suffering severe abdominal pain. He was hospitalized for observation until 8:00 P.M.

Israel denies residents of Masafer Yatta communities, who had lived in the area before the occupation began, access to running water and electricity. In recent years, B’Tselem has documented the repeated destruction of pipelines laid by the Palestinian Authority to supply water for residents of the communities in the area.

This is the third settler attack on the community of Maghayir al-‘Abid that B’Tselem has documented since early May 2021. The settlement of Ma’on and the outpost of Havat Ma’on were established about 2.5 kilometers northwest of the community. The residents of the Masafer Yatta area have been suffering repeated attacks by settlers and soldiers as part of Israel’s routine harassment of Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, and in Masafer Yatta in particular, in the state’s bid to expel them from their homes and area of residence.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash on 8 July 2021, Muslem Abu Hameid (54), a married father of 10 from the town of Yatta, described the attack on him and his son:

I live and Yatta and work at the Yatta Municipality as a bulldozer operator. In recent days, I’ve been working on a project carried out by the Masafer Yatta Council to lay a water line for the Maghayir al-‘Abid community, east of Yatta. We work at night so that the military and the settlers won’t notice us and stop the project.

On 2 July 2021, we went out to work at around 8:00 P.M. I was with my son Marwan, who came to drive me there and back, the project manager and three other workers. At 1:45 A.M., as I was digging with the bulldozer, I saw a fire on a hill near Maghayir al-‘Abid, not far from us. I aimed the tractor lights there, and at first, I didn’t see anyone. But then I suddenly saw seven or eight settlers coming down from the hill and advancing towards us.

They turned towards our car, where my son Marwan was sitting, about 100 meters away from me. He was waiting for me to finish working. I drove the tractor towards Marwan, but the settlers reached him before me, attacked him, and then fled. When I stopped the tractor to get off, another group of masked settlers suddenly appeared. There were eight of them. They started throwing stones at me while I was sitting on the bulldozer. I fell to the ground, and three of them attacked me with sticks. I got hit in the head and the right hand. Then a fourth settler attacked me from behind, put his stick on my neck and started pressing hard, but I managed to break free from him and escape. The settlers also ran off.  

When the settlers attacked me, the bulldozer’s engine was still running. Apparently, after I fell, they slid it into the valley. It all happened so quickly, within a minute or two, and none of the other workers managed to reach us and help us before the settlers fled. I went over to Marwan and saw that he was unconscious. He was injured in the legs, arms and head. Marwan later told me that the first settlers smashed a window in the car and then attacked him inside the car with pipes.

The project manager drove us in his car to a Bedouin village in the area, where we were met by Red Crescent ambulance that took us to the ‘Alia Governmental Hospital. We got to the hospital at around 3:00 A.M. Marwan and I were examined and X-rayed, and it turned out that I had a deep wound on the top of my head, which was stitched up. I also had bruises on both hands. Marwan had sharp pains in the head, leg, arm and chest. We were discharged in the morning, but when we got home, Marwan had to go back to the hospital because he vomited and had extreme stomach pains.

June 2021

29
Olive trees damaged in Turmusaya, 29 June 2021. Photo courtesy of grove owner
Olive trees damaged in Turmusaya, 29 June 2021. Photo courtesy of grove owner

Turmusaya, Ramallah District: Setters uproot approx. 75 trees in villager’s grove

In the morning hours of 29 June 2021, a resident of Turmusaya in Ramallah District discovered that settlers had uprooted and damaged some 75 trees in his plot on the eastern side of the village. This was the fourth settler attack in a week on residents of the Turmusaya area or on their property.

The settlement outpost of Adei Ad was established about two kilometers northeast of the grove.

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Khirbet Susiya, South Hebron Hills: Settlers stone shepherds twice in two days

On 28 June 2021, settlers set out from the settlement of Susiya and hurled stones at a number of Palestinians grazing their flocks about 500 meters south of the village of Susiya. The shepherds were forced to move away from the area.

Two days later, on 30 June 2021, several masked settlers again came to the area and hurled stones at shepherds from the village. After about 20 minutes, soldiers came to the scene and drove the settlers away.

The military expelled the residents of Khirbet Susiya from their village in 1986 and they relocated to their farmland. Since then, the military and settlers have trying to drive them out of there, too.

Olive seedlings broken by the settlers. Photo courtesy of grove owner
Olive seedlings broken by the settlers. Photo courtesy of grove owner

Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers destroy approx. 125 olive seedlings and steal farming equipment

On 28 June 2021, a village resident discovered that settlers had broken some 125 olive seedlings he was about to plant, and a number of five-year-old trees on his land south of the village. The settlers also stole power cords and a water pump from the plot.

The residents of Jalud have been suffering from repeated attacks by settlers, who assault them and damage their property.

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A-Tuwani and al-Mufaqarah, South Hebron Hills: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack Palestinians with stones and sticks and torch agricultural structure; soldiers fire live rounds and tear gas at the Palestinians

On Saturday, 26 June 2021, some 20 settlers invaded the village of a-Tuwani, stoned residents and beat some with sticks, injuring one. Soldiers then escorted the settlers to other communities. A settler fired at Palestinians and several others torched an agricultural structure of an a-Tuwani resident and damaged his olive grove. After the settlers retreated, other soldiers arrived and fired live fire and tear gas at the Palestinians and their homes. This is life for Masafer Yatta residents, whom Israel works to expel from their land.

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Turmusaya area, Ramallah District: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack Bedouin community
Turmusaya area, Ramallah District: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack Bedouin community

Turmusaya area, Ramallah District: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack Bedouin community

On 26 June 2021, at around 4:00 P.M., settlers came with a military escort to a farm owned by a Bedouin family that lies on a plain east of the village of Turmusaya, and attacked it with stones. Family members, along with area residents who came to their aid, tried to fend the settlers off by throwing stones. The soldiers escorting the settlers fired live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at the Palestinians and hurled stun grenades. Several Palestinians were hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and treated at a clinic in the area. Another was lightly injured in the abdomen by a stone.

In the attack, settlers burned down a parked agricultural vehicle, as well as some two tons of barley crops and about 50 sheaves of straw. Two goats choked to death from the tear gas and two others broke their legs in the panic that broke out among the flock. The soldiers removed the settlers from the scene after about an hour, but continued to clash with the residents until around 7:00 A.M. After police officers came to the scene, soldiers prevented residents from approaching them to file a complaint.  

The settlement outpost of Adei Ad was established about 1.5 kilometers from the Bedouin farm. Since its establishment, residents of the Turmusaya area have been suffering repeated attacks by settlers.

 

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 27 June 2021, Suliman Abu ‘Alia (32), a married father of three who lives on the farm with his extended family, described the settlers’ attack:

My family, which numbers 10 people, lives off farming and shepherding. In winter, we live in the Ras a-Tin area. In spring and summer, we live on our farm east of Turmusaya, so the flock can graze in the fields we’ve already harvested and eat the dry grass remaining there. Near the farm there are extremist settlers who attack us and other area residents and cause damage. In recent months it’s actually been quiet, with no attacks.   

On 26 June 2021, at around 4:00 P.M., we suddenly noticed settlers coming towards us. The women and children on the farm were terrified. We tried to drive the settlers away to defend our families, and tried to protect the flock, tents and fodder as best as we could. A few dozen guys from the area who heard what was happening came to help us fight them.  

The soldiers didn’t really try to make them leave or to protect us. All they cared about was defending the settlers, and they fired at us and threw stun grenades and tear gas. We had to disperse because the gas was so heavy. Only after an hour did the military drive the settlers away. Even then, they continued attacking us, even when the military did try to intervene. After the settlers moved away, the clashes between the residents and the military continued until 7:00 P.M. My brother Ahmad was lightly injured in the stomach from a stone thrown by the settlers. About other 10 people were injured by tear gas or “rubber” bullets. But as far as I know, they were only injured lightly and were treated at clinics in the area.  

The settlers torched a car we used for transporting things inside the farm, well as two tons of barley for feeding the flock (a ton costs about 17,000 shekels [~5,2450 USD]), and about 50 sheaves of straw that were also intended for the flock (every sheaf costs 50 shekels [~15 USD]). They also injured two goats whose legs got broken, and two other goats choked on the gas and died.  

In the end, at a late hour, police officers also arrived. But every time I tried to approach them to file a complaint, the soldiers kept me back at gunpoint 

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Homes in the village of a-Tuwani. Photos: Omri Eran-Vardi, 15 Jan. 2021
Homes in the village of a-Tuwani. Photos: Omri Eran-Vardi, 15 Jan. 2021

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Settler grazing flock in cultivated Palestinian field summons other settlers who attack farmers and their homes

On Saturday, 19 June 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., a settler led his flock into Jum’ah Rab’i’s (48) barley field. When he noticed Rab’i, who was also grazing his flock in the area, he summoned about ten other settlers who arrived, masked, from the direction of the Havat Ma’on outpost and attacked Rab’i with stones in front of several soldiers. Rab’i was forced to move away from the area, and when a number of villagers joined him, the settlers threw stones at them as well.

After about half an hour, the settlers left, but returned half an hour later and stoned the house of Jum’ah’s brother, Amjad Rab’I (38), and his wife Liqyah (32). The settlers injured Liqyah Rab’i, who was standing on her rooftop, and Amjad’s mother, Fatmeh Rab’i (72), who was sitting in the yard and could not escape as she is paralyzed. They smashed the sun boiler panels on the roof of the house and broke several branches of olive trees in the surrounding land. When they saw young men from the village approaching to defend the family’s home, the settlers fled. A Red Crescent ambulance came to the scene and its crew provided first aid to the injured women.

The settlement of Ma’on and the outpost of Havat Ma’on were established about 500 meters and about 200 meters from the Rab’i family’s home, respectively.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari on 28 June 2021, Liqyah Rab’i (32), a married mother of four from a-Tuwani, described the attack on her home:

I live with my husband Amjad (38) and our four children, aged eight months to 10, in a-Tuwani. The settlers attack our home so often that our children’s mental health is suffering. They wet the bed at night and have anxieties. They also refuse to sleep in their own rooms and insist on sleeping with my husband and me. They wake up a lot at night, crying and repeating what the settlers call out.

On Saturday, 19 June 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., I was standing outside the house when I saw about 10 masked settlers throwing stones with slingshots at my neighbors, in full view of about five soldiers who were in the area. The attack lasted about half an hour. At the same time, I saw setters grazing their sheep on another neighbor’s land.

After about half an hour, the settlers left. I went inside to make breakfast, but suddenly heard voices outside. I quickly went up to the roof with my brother-in-law (16) to understand what was going on. We saw about 10 masked settlers coming towards us. They started showering us with stones.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law, who’s partially paralyzed, was sitting on a chair in the yard. I tried to climb down off the roof to take her inside, but I couldn’t because of the number of stones they were throwing at us. It lasted about 10 minutes, and Musa and I were unable to escape from the roof. We started screaming for help. Meanwhile, a large stone hit me in the right shoulder and I felt a sharp pain. My shoulder is still bruised, swollen and sore.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari, Liqyah’s mother-in-law, Fatmeh Rab’i (72), recounted how the settlers injured her:

On Friday, 19 June 2021, at around 8:00 A.M., I was sitting on a chair in my yard when suddenly, I heard my daughter-in-law shouting from the roof, “Auntie, Auntie.” She asked me to run inside, but I’ve been paralyzed since a heart attack I had seven years ago and can’t walk. I leaned on another chair in the yard and tried to hide behind a tree. It protected me from some of the stones that were flying in my direction, but one of them hit me in the right thigh and it hurt a lot.

About 10 minutes later, young guys from the village started coming towards the house to defend us, and the settlers ran away. Then an ambulance arrived to take me away, but I refused to go to hospital because I was afraid the settlers would attack again. The settlers came back in the evening and wandered throughout village land until late at night.

The settlers attack us all the time, especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays. It’s been going on like this for 16 years, but lately the attacks have intensified. They were especially intense during the war in Gaza, in the final days of Ramadan.

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A tree cut down by settlers. Photo courtesy of farmers
A tree cut down by settlers. Photo courtesy of farmers

Burin, Nablus District: Settlers cut down some 60 olive trees in the groves of three farmers

On 15 June 2021, three Palestinian farmers from the village of Burin discovered that settlers had cut down about 60 olive trees in their land. The settlement of Yitzhar was established about 700 meters away from the groves.

Residents of Burin, which is hemmed in by the settlements of Yitzhar and Har Bracha, have been suffering from 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 it – both on land belonging to Burin and to neighboring villages.

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An agricultural plot owned by a Beit Furik resident that was torched by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the witness
An agricultural plot owned by a Beit Furik resident that was torched by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the witness

Settlers violently attack farmers from Khirbet Tana and Beit Furik in Nablus District and threaten them

On 14 June 2021, a fire broke out on pastureland that lies on a ridge south of Beit Furik and Khirbet Tana. The settlement of Itamar was established on the ridge in 1984 on land belonging to Palestinian villages, and later joined by several outposts. The following day, settlers attacked Palestinian farmers, accused them of setting the fire, threatened them and damaged their property. State-backed settler violence has become a routine part of the occupation, leading to the increasing dispossession of Palestinians throughout the West Bank.

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Pipes cut by the settlers in the cucumber field. Photo courtesy of landowner
Pipes cut by the settlers in the cucumber field. Photo courtesy of landowner

Al-Janiyah, Ramallah District: Settlers damage irrigation system and trample crops

On 12 June 2021, around 3:30 P.M., about 10 masked settlers invaded farmland belonging to village resident Amjad Mazlum (45). Farmers working in the area notified Mazlum and other people, who came to the scene and chased the settlers out. After the settlers fled towards the outpost of Zayit Ra’anan, established about a kilometer north of the land, the farmers discovered they had damaged an irrigation pipeline that is hundreds of meters long and had trampled several cucumber crops in the plot.

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Maghayir al-‘Abid, Masafer Yatta: Palestinian shepherd held for four days on false allegations after settlers, escorted by soldiers, try to drive him out of pastureland

On 9 June 2021, while Musleh Makhamreh (24) was out grazing his flock a few hundred meters west of the community, several settlers arrived with a military escort and ordered him to leave. Makhamreh refused and called the police, but the officers who came to the scene arrested him on the grounds that he had threatened to kill the settlers. He asked the officers to watch footage he had filmed on his phone during the incident. They refused to do so or to allow him to call his father so he could gather the flock, which was left alone in the field.  

Makhamreh was taken to the Kiryat Arba police station, interrogated, and then transferred to Ofer Prison. That evening, at around 7:00 P.M., his father arrived at the station to file a complaint against the settlers who had harassed his son, but the officers refused to register the complaint. After waiting until 10:00 P.M, he had no choice but to return home.   

In a court hearing the next day, the judge accepted the police’s claim that they were not done investigating Makhamreh and extended his detention, although the officers admitted they had not watched the footage filmed by Makhamreh, which proves his innocence. Makhamreh was released on 13 June 2021 after an Israeli activist signed his NIS 20,000 bail and after he undertook to appear for further proceedings if summoned.  

About two weeks earlier, settlers stoned another shepherd from the community. The settlement outpost of Havat Ma’on was established about 1.5 kilometers from the site of the attack. 

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The seedlings uprooted in Rami Musa’s plot. Photo courtesy of landowner
The seedlings uprooted in Rami Musa’s plot. Photo courtesy of landowner

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers uproot approx. 160 fruit tree seedlings

On 6 June 2021, settlers invaded the plots of two farmers in the south of the village and uprooted and broke fruit tree seedlings, including olive trees. In 40-year-old Rami Musa’s plot, the settlers broke 84 three-year-old seedlings, and in 60-year-old Muhammad ‘Amer’s plot, they uprooted and broke some 85 seedlings.

The settlement of Shvut Rachel was established about a kilometer from ‘Amer’s plot, and the settlement of Shilo was established about 200 meters to the west.

One of the cars whose window was smashed by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the lot owner.
One of the cars whose window was smashed by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the lot owner.

Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers smash the windows of seven cars in car dealership lot

On 6 June 2021, settlers invaded a car dealership lot by Route 555 north of the town, smashed the windows of seven cars and damaged chassis. The lot owner estimates the damage at tens of thousands of shekels.

The settlement outpost of Givat Sneh Ya’akov was established about a kilometer north of the lot, and the settlement of Yitzhar was established about a 1.5 kilometers to the west.

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Central Hebron: Soldiers assisted by settlers violently arrest young Palestinian man and assault residents in Jaber neighborhood

On 3 June 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., several soldiers arrested an 18-year-old Palestinian from the Jaber neighborhood in Hebron and beat him. During the violent arrest, four settlers arrived, three of them armed. The settlers took an active part in the young man’s arrest and prevented his family from approaching the scene.

Over the course of the incident, settlers pepper-sprayed three Palestinians in the face. At one point, after a Palestinian youth threw an empty glass bottle that hit a settlers in the arm without injuring him, some of the soldiers advanced while threatening neighborhood residents with their weapons. One even fired in the air, causing panic among the adults and children.

Several police officers arrived and began pushing the residents away. A Red Crescent ambulance called to the scene evacuated the victims of the pepper spray attack to the ‘Alia Governmental Hospital. The soldiers put the young man they had arrested into a military jeep, and then they and the settlers left.

‘Aref Jaber (46), a neighborhood resident and father of six, recounted:

I live in the Jaber neighborhood. I’m an activist with Human Rights Defenders and am constantly documenting violations by soldiers and settlers. On 3 June 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., I was at ‘Abed Dib Jaber’s shop, which is 30 meters south of my house, on the road leading to [the settlement of] Kiryat Arba.

A kid from the neighborhood came and told me that soldiers were beating a guy from the neighborhood by the military checkpoint that's in front of my house. I ran over there and started filming what was happening on my cellphone. I saw two soldiers trying to overpower our neighbor Wasim (18). I didn’t know why. Ofer Ohana was also standing there and filming on his phone. After two minutes, four armed settlers arrived, two of them armed with an M-16 rifle and one with a handgun.

I saw the soldiers violently assaulting Wasim and trying to handcuff him. They knocked him to the ground, and then one of them pressed his knee down on his neck. One of the settlers helped the soldiers and tried to grab Wasim's legs. The other three stopped Wasim’s relatives from coming closer. One of the armed settlers also had a pepper spray can, and he was threatening anyone who came near with it. Meanwhile, Wasim’s brother ‘Alaa (26) arrived and tried to help his brother. One of the settlers pepper-sprayed him in the face, and he fell down on the road.

At that point, one Palestinian threw an empty bottle at the settlers. Then I saw two soldiers cock their weapons and start acting hysterically, chasing residents who had come to help the guy and see what was happening. One of the soldiers fired a shot in the air, and I saw other soldiers trying to rein in another soldier who had cocked his weapon while chasing women and children. I tried to film what was happening on my phone. Then a settler pepper-sprayed me in the face.

After I was sprayed, I sat down on the road and screamed in pain. My whole face was burning. My wife and kids started pouring water and milk on it. Another neighbor took my phone and continued filming. A police car arrived, and two officers got out and started shoving people. Another troop of soldiers also arrived, and they helped the other soldiers handcuff Wasim. Wasim looked like he was suffocating from the pressure the soldier was applying with his knee. I saw Wasim’s mother and sisters crying and begging the soldiers to release him after they put him in the jeep.

At that point, the soldiers acted very violently towards all the women there. The soldier who had cocked his weapon pointed it from point-blank range at Suzan Jaber, a B’Tselem volunteer. I was afraid he would shoot her. Her son Mahmoud put his arm around her and led her away from the soldier into their yard. A neighbor of mine arrived and the settler pepper-sprayed him in the face, too. One of the residents called a Red Crescent ambulance that took Fawaz and ‘Alaa to hospital. I refused to go, because I was afraid the soldiers would come into my house and arrest my sons.

May 2021

30
Settlers armed with clubs approaching the spot. Photo courtesy of the farmers
Settlers armed with clubs approaching the spot. Photo courtesy of the farmers

Deir Jarir, Ramallah District: Settlers graze livestock in cultivated Palestinian fields and attack farmers in the presence of soldiers

In the days preceding the fighting in Gaza in May 2021, many Palestinian farmers in the West Bank avoided going to their cultivated land or grazing their flocks in open areas due to fear of escalating settler violence.

Deir Jarir farmers have long suffered from crop damage caused by settlers who graze herds of sheep and cattle in their cultivated fields. In early April 2021, the Israeli military evacuated an outpost established by settlers near cultivated plots belonging to village residents. The settlers from the outpost kept a flock of about 200 sheep and grazed it in the Palestinian farmers’ land. Shortly after the evacuation, the settlers returned, re-established the outpost on the same site, and continued grazing their flock in the fields and groves of Deir Jarir residents.

The settlers’ flock in a cultivated Palestinian area. Photo courtesy of the farmers
The settlers’ flock in a cultivated Palestinian area. Photo courtesy of the farmers

On 30 May 2021, some 10 days after the ceasefire was declared, about 10 elderly landowners from Deir Jarir decided to go to their land to check on the crops. Upon arrival, at around 5:00 P.M., the farmers encountered two settlers grazing their flock in the groves. The landowners approached the settlers and asked them to take their flock away, but they refused. After an argument that lasted about five minutes, several soldiers arrived. The farmers asked the soldiers to help them remove the settlers and their flock.

While the farmers were talking to the soldiers, cars with dozens of masked settlers carrying clubs, iron bars, and stones drove up. The settlers attacked the farmers, who were forced to flee the scene on foot, leaving their cars behind. During the attack, a settler pepper-sprayed an 80-year-old farmer, and other settlers smashed the windshields of three of the farmers’ cars.

Only after the settlers began vandalizing the cars did the soldiers remove them from the area, and the farmers could return and take their cars away.

One of the cars vandalized by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the farmers
One of the cars vandalized by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the farmers

The settlement of Kochav Hashachar was established about two kilometers east of the land.

On 7 April 2021, B’Tselem documented a settler attack on Israeli human rights activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman after he filmed them grazing their herds in cultivated Palestinian fields, about a kilometer north of the spot where the attack mentioned above occurred.

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One of the trees poisone by settlers. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem
One of the trees poisone by settlers. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem

Sinjil, Ramallah District: Settlers poison all 80 of Palestinian family's 15-year-old olive trees

In the days prior to the fighting in Gaza in May 2021, many Palestinian farmers in the West Bank avoided going to their cultivated land and refrained from grazing their flocks in open areas due to the escalation in settler violence.

On 25 May 2021, Jarah Khalil (34) went to his olive grove for the first time in several weeks and discovered that settlers had poisoned all his trees. The grove, which lies about two kilometers north of the village, consisted of about 80 trees that were 15 years old.

The settlement of Shilo and the outposts of Giv’at Harel and Haro’eh were established about a kilometer from the grove.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 27 May 2021, Khalil described the poisoning of the olive trees and the resulting damage to his family:

My family owns seven dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] of land in the a-Rafeed area, about two kilometers north of the village. We had about 80 trees there, all of them 15 years old. They only recently started yielding a fair amount of fruit, and we extracted a tin of oil from every three to four trees. It’s part of our livelihood. We’re a family of five. Since my father died, I’ve been the only breadwinner because I’m the eldest.

About two months ago, a group of settlers built an outpost 50 meters away from our grove. One of them brought his whole family there and they raise livestock. During the latest round of incidents in early May, we stopped going to the land because we were afraid the settlers would attack us. On Tuesday afternoon, 25 May 2021, a farmer from the village went to his land, which is near our grove, and saw that our trees looked dry and burnt. He called me right away and I went over there quickly. When I got to the grove, I found more than half of the trees dried up and dead, and the rest drying up as well.

The state of the trees indicates deliberate poisoning, which is a method the settlers use. They destroyed all the mature olive trees, nearly 80 of them. There’s a military base overlooking the grove, about 500 meters away, but apparently no one stopped the settlers. We think the crime was carried out in two stages, the first about 20 days ago and the second 10 days ago, based on the extent of the trees’ dehydration.

I don’t think the trees will recover. Usually, with such poisoning, the toxins reach the roots and kill them, so there’s no chance that the trees will grow again. We put a lot of years of work into the groves and it all went down the drain because of the settlers’ crime. We dreamed and hoped that the trees would be another source of income to help us. Killing the trees was a cold-hearted act carried out by immoral people.

We didn’t file a complaint because there’s no reason to believe it would help. The Israeli police wouldn't take it seriously and bring the settlers to justice. But I reported the incident to the head of the village council, the Red Cross and several human rights organizations.

Maghayir al-‘Abid, Masafer Yatta: Three settlers stone shepherd and his flock

On 25 May 2021, ‘Iz a-Din Makhamreh was out grazing his family’s flock west of the community when suddenly, three settlers appeared and began throwing stones at him and at the flock. Makhamreh was hit by several stones and led the flock back home. Later that day, community residents discovered that settlers had stolen a bucket of water from the cistern on the pastureland.

The settlement outpost of Havat Ma’on was established about two kilometers northwest of the community.

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