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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

May 2021

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Burin, Nablus District: Settlers torch grove and stone Palestinian home; soldiers fire tear gas at residents who come to defend the home

On the night of 4 May 2021, three fires broke out near the village of Burin.

At around 10:30 P.M., a fire broke out on the eastern outskirts of the village, spreading upwards towards the settlement outpost of Givat Ronen. That night, B’Tselem tweeted a photo of the fire along with initial information from the field. The military and settlers claimed that Palestinians had set the fire, which they had worked to put out. Village residents claimed that settlers had done it. B’Tselem cannot ascertain who was responsible for the arson.

Attempted torching on the southern side of Burin

At around 11:00 P.M., settlers came to an area on the southern side of the village, about 500 meters away from the bypass road that serves the settlement of Yitzhar. Akram ‘Umran (52), a father of seven, saw several settlers roaming on his private land. They set fire to an olive grove, it quickly died out as the soil had been plowed. The settlers fled to a car that was waiting for them on the bypass road. ‘Umran stayed on the land until morning along with other villagers he had called, in order to make sure the settlers did not return.

In a video testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, ‘Umran recounted that night:

 

 

‘Abdallah ‘Issa (35), a father of seven, went to a plot he owns next to ‘Umran’s after he heard settlers were in the vicinity. He stayed on guard on the land all night, for fear they would come back. The day before, settlers had vandalized his crops and farming equipment, cutting the irrigation pipes and plastic covers of his greenhouses, spilling fertilizer and damaging the crops. ‘Issa found a kippah (yarmulke) one of the settlers left behind.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, ‘Issa stated:

On Tuesday morning, 4 May 2021, at 7:00 A.M., I went to my land as usual to harvest the crops. I had 10 days left to pick the zucchini, tomatoes and lettuce I planted this February. But when I got there, I discovered that settlers had damaged some of the irrigation pipes and crops. They’d also spilled the fertilizer and cut parts of the greenhouses’ plastic sheeting. I felt helpless. I couldn’t hold back and started crying. I’d taken out loans to build the greenhouses and buy the equipment and seedlings. When I walked around to assess the damage, I found a kippah lying on one of the seedlings.

While I was building the greenhouses, the settlement guard came and threatened me that if I didn’t dismantle them, he’d do it himself. I will never forget his words.

The day I discovered the damage, I was with my family in the evening when a village resident named Ahmad called and told me that settlers were trying to torch the greenhouses and that I had to come quickly. I drove over right away with my brother. My headlights were pointing at the greenhouse and I saw Ahmad. I also saw three or four headlights in the plot next to mine. I ran immediately towards the greenhouses. The settlers ran towards the road, and Ahmad and some other young guys tried to chase after them, but I called them back because I was afraid they’d be attacked. The settlers ran towards the bypass road and on the way, tried to set fire to a field, but it went out immediately because the soil had been plowed.

Settlers attack Ghadah and Ibrahim ‘Eid’s home and soldiers cause fire

At around 11:30 P.M., several settlers arrived at the northeastern side of the village. They attacked the home of Ghadah (46) and Ibrahim (50) ‘Eid, parents of eight who live about 1.5 kilometers from the settlement outpost of Givat Ronen. The settlers began throwing stones at the family’s home. Soldiers arrived and fired tear gas canisters at residents who came to defend it. The soldiers also sent up flares, some of which started a fire in an olive grove, which village residents and Palestinian firefighters put out.

The 'Eid family suffered gas inhalation, and one resident who had come to their aid was hit in the shoulder by a stone the settlers threw. He was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus and discharged after undergoing X-rays.

B’Tselem documented a previous military-backed settler attack on the ‘Eid family home on 9 October 2020.

In her testimony, Ghadah ‘Eid described the moments of the attack:

At around 11:30 P.M., I was at home with my husband and our kids. Suddenly, I heard clattering on the roof. I quickly checked the security camera screen and saw several settlers. Since the shooting at the Za’atrah Checkpoint, I’ve been expecting settler attacks. They always attack us and take revenge on us when something happens to settlers or to the military somewhere in the West Bank.

I told everyone to draw the blinds and lock the doors. The sound of the stones was so loud, it sounded like an earthquake was toppling the house. The stones hit the walls and the roof. When they hit the iron gate, it made a tremendous noise. We live like we’re in a prison, with metal mesh covering all of our windows.

My daughter Nur (12) became terrified and anxious. She couldn’t stop shaking and crying. I moved with her and Muhammad (7) from room to room, but no room felt safe. I started shouting and calling out to neighbors to help us, because the settlers usually leave when they see other residents coming.

The attack lasted between 10 to 15 minutes, and then the settlers left. Soldiers who came with them fired tear gas canisters and sent up flares, which started a fire about 50 to 100 meters away from the house.

The smell of gas was everywhere. I sliced some onions and handed them out to my children. My son ‘Abd a-Rahman (13) has sinusitis, and the tear gas affects him particularly badly. His face got very red and he had trouble breathing. I set up his inhalation machine to help him breathe.

After the settlers left, we started checking around the house. We found several flowerpots broken. We didn’t dare go up to the roof to check there, because we were afraid the settlers and soldiers hadn’t gone very far and would come back to attack us. We only fell asleep at 4:00 A.M. When we woke up, we went up to the roof and found that the settlers had broken four projectors.

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THE WINDSHIELD SMASHED BY THE SETTLERS.
THE WINDSHIELD SMASHED BY THE SETTLERS.

Huwarah-Jit Road: Settlers stone Palestinian cars, fracturing one driver’s shoulder

On 3 May 2021, at around 11:30 P.M., three friends from the village of Far’on were traveling home after driving a friend to the village of Far’ata, south of Nablus. On their way back, as they passed by the Huwara-Jit Road (Route 60), near which the settlement of Yitzhar was established, a settler threw a stone at their car, shattering the windshield and hitting the driver, ‘Abd al-Latif Badir (30), in the shoulder.

The car swerved and grazed the guardrail, but Badir managed to stop it by the roadside. His friends called an ambulance and the Palestinian police and notified the Palestinian DCO. A Red Crescent ambulance and a military jeep arrived about 15 minutes later. The soldiers spoke with the ambulance driver, but not with Badir or his friends.

Badir was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he was X-rayed and diagnosed with a shoulder fracture. He was discharged on 9 May 2021 and does not recall the incident.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi on 5 May 2021, Badir’s friend, A.A., described what happened that night:

I invited my friend from Far’ata to the Iftar dinner. He’s an engineer and is overseeing the construction of my home. I also invited two friends from the village, ‘Abdallah Badir and Usayed ‘Omar. At night, we drove my friend back to Far’ata in the new Volkswagen Passat that ‘Abdallah bought a few months ago. On the way back, when we were near the settlement of Yitzhar, I was in the passenger seat and Abdallah was driving, when I saw a stone flying at us. I ducked and yelled to ‘Abdallah to watch out. He was hit in the shoulder. The car swerved right and left before ‘Abdallah finally managed to bring it to a halt, after grazing the guardrail. Usayed and I got out of the car and called the police and a Palestinian ambulance. We also called the Palestinian DCO. A Red Crescent ambulance and a military jeep arrived. The soldiers spoke with the medical crew but didn’t speak to us at all. The ambulance took ‘Abdallah to hospital in Nablus and I went with him. Usayed and some people who came to help him drove ‘Abdallah’s car to the village of Burin.

Muhammad Salman after the assault
Muhammad Salman after the assault

Far’ata, Qalqiliyah District: Settlers stone 73-year-old farmer and wound him in the head

On 3 May 2021, at around 6:30 A.M., farmer Muhammad Salman (73), a father of 16, arrived at his land – 55 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] that lie east of the village. Salman, who goes there twice a day, led his flock to nearby pastureland and checked on his olive trees. At around 9:00 A.M., Salman noticed two settlers who had come from the direction of the adjacent settlement of Gilad Farm. They were standing about 25 meters away and started throwing stones at him.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi on the day of the incident, Salman described being attacked by the settlers:

I was terrified because there were no other farmers in the area. I started moving away from them, but one stone hit me in the head from behind. I felt dizzy and started bleeding from my head. I hid for a few minutes behind the tall grass until the settlers drew back towards the settlement. Then I led the flock back toward the village, about a kilometer away. My sons took me to the clinic in the nearby village of Immatin. From there, I was transferred to the Darwish Nazal Hospital in Qalqiliyah to have my head X-rayed. The X-ray showed no skull fractures, and I was discharged with orders to rest.

I was stunned by the settlers’ attack. I’m in my land every day and they see me there, but it’s the first time they’ve attacked me.

Shilo Junction (Route 60), Ramallah District: Settlers stone Palestinian car, injuring passenger

On the night of 3 May 2021, about 15 settlers stoned a car that was driving through the intersection by the settlement of Shilo, on Route 60. The stones shattered the windshield, a window and a headlight, and hit a resident (60) of a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah who was traveling in the car with her husband (73).

The injured woman was taken to hospital in Ramallah, where she was diagnosed with bruising and discharged.

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Window in Qusrah home shattered by settlers. Photo courtesy of the residents
Window in Qusrah home shattered by settlers. Photo courtesy of the residents

Qusrah and Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack Palestinian homes and cars. Soldiers arrest Jalud residents throwing stones to drive settlers away, on grounds that a stone hit a soldier

On the night of 2 May 2021, dozens of settlers, escorted by soldiers, attacked the eastern neighborhood of the village of Jalud, throwing stones at homes and at parked cars. They shattered the windows of three cars. After residents came out to defend their homes and tried to drive the settlers away by throwing stones, soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters at them. Security forces arrested 11 village residents on the pretext that a stone had hit one of the soldiers. The detainees were held overnight at the Binyamin police station and released the following evening.

Later on the same night, settlers attacked the southeastern neighborhood of the nearby village of Qusrah. They hurled stones at homes and in one, shattered several windows, damaged seedlings in the garden and broke the outdoor lighting.

Residents of Jalud and Qusrah have been suffering from repeated settler attacks for years. The settlement outposts of Ahiya and Esh Kodesh were established near the two villages.

April 2021

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Ibrahim Hamduni after the attack
Ibrahim Hamduni after the attack

Imreihah, Jenin District: Settlers assault and severely beat farmer (65) with clubs

On 29 April 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., Ibrahim Hamduni (65), a married father of eight, took his cows and sheep to graze south of his village, Imreihah, in Jenin District. The settlement of Mevo Dotan was established about three kilometers west of the pastureland, and the settlement of Hermesh was established about two kilometers west of it. 

At around 8:00, a settler arrived with a flock of sheep and called another settler to come. The two assaulted Hamduni with wooden clubs and beat him all over his body, including his head. Hamduni managed to get away and fled the area with this flock, bleeding from the head. The settlers drew back toward Mevo Dotan.  

After he had gone some distance, Hamduni called his son, who came to meet him and helped him walk home. From there, the son drove him to hospital in Jenin, where Hamduni was examined and X-rayed and had three head wounds stitched. He was also bruised all over his body from the blows.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi on 29 April 2021, Ibrahim Hamduni recounted being attacked by settlers: 

On Thursday, 29 April 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., I went out to pasture as usual with my five cows and three sheep. I take them to graze them in the valley south of our village, Imreihah, where there’s grass throughout the season.   

After I got there, a settler I know arrived. He grazes his flock in the same area. He came over to me and asked, “What are you doing here?” I told him I was grazing my cows and sheep on our land as I always do. He called someone and then another settler came, whom I’ve also seen with a herd in this area.  

The two settlers started hitting me on the head, chest and legs with clubs. My head and face started bleeding and my ribs hurt. I was there alone and had no way to defend myself. I managed to run away despite the pain and bleeding, and led my cows and sheep away.   

I saw that the two settlers move away towards the settlement of Dotan. I called my son Fuad and asked him to meet me and help me walk, because of the pain in my chest and head. I went towards the village and Fuad met me on the way. I leaned on him, and we kept walking until we got home at around 8:30 A.M.  

When we got there, my wife and the rest of my family were shocked to see me bleeding from my head. It was a sweltering day and I was fasting. My sons wiped the blood from my face and head, and Fuad took me in his car to the hospital in Jenin to have me tested and make sure that I wasn’t injured. I had severe pain in my head, legs, back and chest.  

The settlers’ violence is meant to scare us away from going to the pastureland, so they can take over the land.

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Slogans spray-painted by setters on the walls of the agricultural structure
Slogans spray-painted by setters on the walls of the agricultural structure

Qusrah, Nablus District: Settlers uproot seedlings, pry off door of agricultural structure and spray-paint it

On 28 April 2021, Fathallah Abu Raidah (60), a resident of Qusrah in Nablus District, discovered that settlers had uprooted seedlings he had planted on his land south of the village. The settlers also spray-painted the slogans “Am Israel Chai (Israel Lives),” Muhammad is a pig” and “Revenge” on the walls of an agricultural structure in the plot, in addition to prying off its door.

The residents of Qusrah and of neighboring villages have been suffering from repeated attacks by settlers against them and against their property. The settlement of Migdalim was established northeast of Qusrah, several hundred meters away from the plot in question. The settlement outposts of Esh Kodesh and Ahiya were established about 1.5 kilometers south of the village.

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Beit Iksa, al-Quds District: Settlers torch residents’ cars for second time this year and spray hate slogan

On the night of 27 April 2021, at around 9:30 P.M., residents of Beit Iksa noticed that a fire had broken out by the locked gate that Israel has installed on the road leading from the village to Jerusalem via the neighborhood of Ramot. As many of the villagers have East Jerusalem residency, since the gate was put up in 2010 they have been forced to park their cars on the other side of it to avoid traveling to Jerusalem through Ramallah and the Qalandiya Checkpoint, which lengthens the journey by at least half an hour.

When the residents went to the spot, they discovered settlers had set fire to cars parked on the other side of the gate. Two of the cars had burned down entirely and one was partially burnt. Another car the settlers had tried to torch did not catch fire. The residents found the slogan “Jews, let’s win, TikTok” sprayed on the road.

Settlers torched two cars belonging to a village resident a month earlier, on 19 March. On both occasions, the Palestinian firetrucks were greatly delayed as the military demands prior coordination to allow passage through the checkpoint at the second entrance to the village. The Israeli firefighters arrived sooner, along with Israel police, military and Border Police forces, but the latter prevented them from getting near enough to put the fire out. The police officers collected statements from the car owners and from several residents.

The Palestinian village of Beit Iksa lies northwest of Jerusalem, within the West Bank but outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. In 2010, the military put up a permanent checkpoint at the only entrance into the village. Since then, Israeli security forces have only allowed people registered as village residents or bearing a special permit to enter the village.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 28 April 2021, H.H. recounted how the settlers torched the cars and security forces held Israeli firetrucks back:

On Tuesday evening, 27 April 2021, I was sitting with friends in the doorway of my house. The house lies on the outskirts of Beit Iksa, overlooking the area where Israel closed off the old road to Jerusalem that runs through the settlement of Ramot.

At around 9:30 P.M., I saw a flash of fire and something catching fire near the gate. I assumed it was a car, because Jerusalem residents who live in Beit Iksa park there. I grabbed a fire extinguisher and headed there with my friends in my car. It took us less than two minutes.

When we got there, I saw a group of settlers in the act of setting fire to other Palestinian cars parked there. One of them, who was masked, was spraying graffiti on the road. I was later told that it said, “Jews, let’s win, TikTok.” There were about 10 other setters waiting near the gate. Some of them were masked. When we got closer, we yelled at them and they ran away through the groves and dirt road towards Ramot.

We focused on putting out the fire and didn’t try to chase them. Two cars were going up in flames. The rear of another car was on fire, so we worked on putting that out with the extinguisher. They’d poured gas on another car and lit it, but it hadn’t caught fire.

We notified the Palestinian and Israeli fire departments, and called village residents to come with fire extinguishers. Two of the cars were still ablaze and we used branches and poured dirt on them to try and put them out, but it didn’t work.

Within 5 to 10 minutes, two Israeli firetrucks and an ambulance arrived along with several military, Israel Police and Border Police jeeps. They all parked on the Ramot side. The Border Police officers stopped the firetrucks from going ahead because the Palestinian fire squad can’t enter without coordination. It took them about 45 minutes to get to the fire, and by then it had consumed the two cars.

In a testimony he gave field researcher Iyad Hadad on 28 April 2021, Muhammad Kiswani (27), a father of two from Jerusalem who lives in Beit Iksa, described the torching of his car:

At around 10:00 P.M., I was at work in Jerusalem when my family called and told me that settlers had torched two cars parked near the western gate. One of them was my other car. I drove over within 20 minutes.

When I got there, the police held me back until they realized I had a car there, and then they let me through on foot. By the time I arrived, my car and another car had burned down and the fire was out.

There were slogans in Hebrew on the road.

The burning of my car caused me financial damage and emotional distress. It cost me NIS 6,000 (~1,836 USD). I work at a restaurant to support my family. Having a second car made things a lot easier, because it meant I could travel inside the village and leave it outside the locked gate. It allowed me to avoid taking the bypass road through Qalandiya Checkpoint, Ramallah and the villages northwest of Jerusalem. That’s a 40 or 50 km trip that takes a long time because of the constant traffic jams at Qalandiya, where you can get stuck for 30 minutes to two hours.

The windshields smashed by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the car owner
The windshields smashed by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the car owner

‘Urif, Nablus District: Settlers stone passing car and smash its windows

On 27 April 2021, at around 11:00 P.M., Marwan Ahmad (26), a father of two from ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, was driving on the road that connects his village with the village of ‘Urif. When he neared ‘Urif, Ahmad found boulders in the middle of the road blocking the way. He tried to turn around to drive back to his village, but five masked settlers appeared and started throwing stones at his car. They shattered the windshield, the sunroof and two headlights, and damaged the chassis, before Ahmad managed to drive away.

The settlement of Yitzhar was established about 800 meters north of this section of the road. On 18 April 2021, settlers torched the control panel of ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah’s water system, several hundred meters from the road.

B’Tselem has documented repeated attacks by settlers against residents of the villages neighboring Yitzhar, including ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, ‘Urif, Burin, Madama and Huwarah, and acts of damage to their property by settlers.

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A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Dozens of settlers invade village land and attack Palestinian farmers and Israeli activists; soldiers fire tear-gas canisters at the farmers

On Saturday morning, 24 April 2021, five settlers came from the direction of the Havat Maon outpost to farmland belonging a-Tuwani residents in the South Hebron Hills. The settlers climbed into a cistern belonging to an area resident and swam in it. The landowner and two other residents who were grazing their flocks in the area asked the settlers to get out of the cistern, as the water is meant for drinking. The settlers got out and walked towards the outpost. 

About an hour later, four of the settlers returned along with four other settlers and tried to get into the cistern. When the landowner asked them to leave, an argument ensued. Meanwhile, dozens of settlers arrived, some of them masked and armed. The landowner and the farmers fled towards Khirbet a-Rakeez and al-Mufaqarah. 

The settlers chased them and threw stones at them for about a kilometer. On the way, they also threw stones at other farmers and shattered most of the windows in five parked cars belonging to farmers. 

The settlers attacked about five Israeli activists who had been called to the area and were filming the incident. The settlers assaulted them with sticks and stones and opened fire twice. 

At around midday, while the settlers were attacking the farmers and the activists, two military jeeps drove up. Two soldiers got out and watched the attack without assisting the victims. At one point, they fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades at the farmers, who were forced to flee the area.  

After the farmers left and a police car arrived, the settlers went back towards the outpost. The police officers left without taking any action.

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The entrance to a-Tamimi's land, where the fence was uprooted.
The entrance to a-Tamimi's land, where the fence was uprooted.

Deir Nizam, Ramallah District: Settlers pry gate off Palestinian farmland; soldiers prevent owner from rebuilding it and drive him away

On 19 March 2021, settlers uprooted some 2,000 almond seedlings and damaged parts of an agricultural fence on land belonging to several families from Deir Nizam. The land stretches about 500 meters north of the village, which lies in Ramallah District. The seedlings were planted as part of a program supported by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and funded by Oxfam.

About two days later, the landowners replanted the seedlings and erected a gate at the entrance to the path that leads to their land, in order to protect the orchard from settler attacks.

On the morning of 23 April 2021, Muhammad a-Tamimi (47) and his son Ramez (16) came to work the plot. At around 1:00 P.M., about five soldiers arrived and ordered the two to leave the area. At the same time, a vehicle stopped by the road nearby and settlers inside began swearing at the farmers. The soldiers went over to the settlers, who drove off.

Muhammad and Ramez a-Tamimi went home. About 15 minutes later, relatives informed them that settlers had uprooted the gate. Muhammad a-Tamimi drove there immediately and found dozens of Israeli security forces spread out on his land. They forced him to leave, threatening and shoving him, on the pretext that it was a closed military zone.

The next day, a-Tamimi returned to his land. Again, soldiers drove him away and prevented him from repairing the gate. A-Tamimi finally managed to repair it on 27 April 2021.

The settlement of Halamish was established about 400 meters southeast of the plot, and the Zvi Bar Yosef farm outpost about 2.5 kilometers to the east. In early April 2021, settlers and soldiers assaulted Deir Nizam residents several times in another plot owned by members of the extended Tamimi family, about a kilometer northeast of Muhammad a-Tamimi’s plot.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 23 April 2021, Muhammad a-Tamimi (47), a resident of Deir Nizam, recounted how the settlers and soldiers colluded to prevent him from accessing his land:

On Friday, 23 April 2021, I came to work the land with my son Ramez. At 1:00 P.M., a military jeep with four or five soldiers arrived. The officers spoke to me rudely and asked me what I was doing there. When I replied that I was working my land, he told me that I didn’t have to work today and should go home. I argued with him. Meanwhile, a car with three settlers showed up and stopped by the roadside. The settlers started cursing me, “You son of a bitch,” “You motherfucker,” and so on. The soldiers ignored it. When I also started cursing the settlers, the soldiers ordered me to shut up. They consulted with each other and only then told the settlers to leave, and they drove away. The soldiers stayed, and I had to leave with my son.

Fifteen minutes after we got home, my nephew came and told me that settlers had pried off the gate, dragged it and thrown it on the ground. I drove over there right away, since it’s only two kilometers away. When we arrived, there were dozens of soldiers, Border Police and Special Patrol Unit officers there, along with dozens of villagers who had come after hearing about the incident, and three settlers’ vehicles.

I immediately turned to the officer I’d spoken to earlier and said to him, “You were here half an hour ago and the gate was still standing, right?” He said, “Yes, you’re right. But we’re waiting for DCO officers to come and solve the problem.” Then he ordered me to move away, but I refused and told him that the settlers should fix the gate first. The officer told me that we’d wait for the DCO and they’d decide who’d fix the gate.

About 10 minutes later, an Israeli DCO officer arrived and ordered me to go home and take the gate with me. He said I should come back the next day to put up the gate instead of getting into a confrontation with the settlers. When I refused, he showed me an order on his phone declaring the land a “closed military zone.”

We insisted and refused to leave until the Border Police officers threatened to pepper-spray us and throw stun grenades at us if we didn’t. We went home and came back the next day to set up the gate, but again they didn’t allow us. Only today, 27 April 2021, I met the soldiers again and the officer told me that the ban had been lifted that day and I could set up the gate.

The settlers constantly harass us and the military covers for them and sometimes even coordinates and cooperates with them. We don’t know who else to turn to. Weve gone through all the official channels, but nothing helps.

Haris, Salfit District: Settlers uproot and break 13 five-year-old olive trees on village land

On 23 April 2021, ‘Aishah Qassem (67) discovered that settlers had uprooted and broken 13 five-year-old olive trees she had planted in her plot on the western side of the village, near which the settlement of Revava was established.

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The control panel of the water system in ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, torched by settlers. 18 Apr. 2021. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem
The control panel of the water system in ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, torched by settlers. 18 Apr. 2021. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers torch water system’s control panel, cutting off village supply

On 18 April 2021, towards evening, members of the village council discovered that settlers had damaged the gate leading to the village’s water reservoir, entered the premises and torched the control panel of the water system. As a result of the vandalism, the residents’ water supply was cut off.  

The village council reported the incident to the Palestinian DCO.  

The water reservoir was built with USAID funding on the southern side of the village. Since the beginning of 2020, B’Tselem has documented eight settler attacks on village residents and their property, most recently on 14 February 2021, when settlers attacked a minibus with about 15 passengers as it passed by the reservoir.  

The reservoir is located about 500 meters east of the settlement of Yitzhar, and about 150 meters away from a military watchtower.

 

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Khirbet Zanutah, south of Hebron: Settlers push Palestinian farmer escorted by Israeli activists and drive his flock out with kicks

On the morning of 17 April 2021, brothers Amin (34) and Bassem (42) al-Khdeirat were out grazing their flock, accompanied by Israeli activists, about 300 meters away from the homes of their community. Suddenly, about five settlers appeared and began shouting at them in order to drive them away. One settler, known to the residents as “Eli,” pushed Bassem al-Khdeirat and the other settlers kicked some of the sheep. The brothers had to gather their flock and leave the area.

The settlers arrived from an outpost that was established on a nearby hill in early April this year, about 100 meters from the community. Since the outpost’s establishment, the residents of Khirbet Zanutah have been suffering repeated harassment and limited access to grazing areas.

The Mount Hebron Regional Council established an industrial area about a kilometer east of the community and installed solar panels in the fields. Israel erected the Separation Barrier about 1.5 kilometers south of the community.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash, the shepherds’ sister, Maryam al-Khdeirat (54), described how her brothers and the rest of the community have suffered since the outpost was established:

I live with my brother Amin and help graze the flock my three brothers raise. The flock is the entire community’s source of livelihood. The other women in the village and I milk the sheep, make cheese, gather dry firewood and bring food to our brothers and husbands while they’re grazing the flock. In summer, I grow vegetables for the family in the flatland of the valley near the village.

In early April, a settler set up an outpost on top of the hill opposite our village, about 100 meters away. Since then, our lives have been disrupted and we’ve started worrying about our livelihood and our future. The settler stops us from taking the sheep out to pasture far from the village and uses a drone to watch us. When we graze the flock, he comes over and threatens us with weapons. He also grazes his flock among our crops.

Since the settler attacked my two brothers and threatened them, I haven’t dared go far from the village to gather firewood as I did for years. I have no choice but to boil milk on a camping stove, which costs us a lot of money. A few days ago, while I was boiling the milk, the settlers’ drone hovered over my head and scared me. I’ve also stopped taking food out to my brothers in the pasture, and my nephews are scared to do it, too.

The new outpost limits our movement around the village and our access to pastureland. I now stay in the village and focus on making dairy products. My brother Amin doesn’t go far with the sheep. He grazes them nearby and comes back earlier because there’s nowhere to go. Last week he bought a large amount of fodder. I heard my brothers talking about how much it cost and I know they’re very worried.

We’re used to living in out in the open and moving freely. We were born here and used to lead a good life with a good income. We made a living from our dairy products and relied on the pastureland without buying a lot of fodder. We used dry wood for heating, cooking and boiling milk, and a cistern filled with winter rains to water the flock. Now, that’s also too dangerous because the settlers threaten the shepherds when they go to the cistern and steal the water buckets. I don’t see how we can grow the vegetables we used to rely on in summer. All these things are expensive – fodder, gas, water and vegetables, which we now have to buy.

We don’t know what to do and how we’ll make a living if the outpost stays here and its residents continue attacking us.

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The settler and his dogs. Photo courtesy of community residents
The settler and his dogs. Photo courtesy of community residents

Wadi a-Siq, Ramallah District: Settler sets dogs on sheep grazing on community land and threatens shepherds at gunpoint

On 15 April 2021, at around 10:00 A.M., a settler arrived with a gun and two dogs at farmland that lies about a kilometer northwest of the community of Wadi a-Siq and about four kilometers east of Deir Dobwan, in Ramallah District. The settler set his dogs on the flocks of three shepherds from Wadi a-Siq grazing on the land, about 300 meters from the Alon Road. To defend themselves, the shepherds released their own dogs and started throwing stones at the settlers’ dogs to keep them away from the sheep. At one point, the settler went over to one of the farmers and slapped him several times. 

The settler pointed his gun at the shepherds and threatened to shoot them if they did not leave the area. He then headed towards a jeep that was parked by the Alon Road, where two other settlers were waiting for him. 

After the settler left the area, the shepherds examined their flocks and found one sheep dead. After gathering the flocks and returning home, they discovered that six of the ewes had miscarried. 

The settlement of Rimonim was established in 1980 about three kilometers from the site of the attack. Several outposts have been established around it over the years, and their residents graze sheep and cattle in the fields of local Bedouin communities and destroy their crops. 

In the past year, B’Tselem has documented several such attacks around the outposts, in addition to daily harassment of shepherds in an attempt to drive them and their flocks off the land. On 7 April 2021, Rabbi Arik Ascherman documented settlers who were grazing sheep and cattle on cultivated Palestinian fields as they attacked him with clubs. On 12 March 2021, settlers tried to tow away residential shacks belonging to area residents. On 14 April 2020, settlers harassed three Bedouin brothers who were grazing sheep in the area and filed false complaints against them, following which the military detained them for five days.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 17 April 2021, Bashar Ka’abneh (18) from the community of Wadi a-Siq recounted what happened that day: 

Two days ago, in the morning, I was grazing my flock on a hill about half a kilometer away from two other shepherds from the community. I was standing there with my cousin when suddenly, I saw a settler with two dogs that were attacking the sheep. I immediately called one of the shepherds and warned him.  

My cousin and I quickly went down the hill towards the shepherds. I saw one of them trying to chase the dogs away with stones. The sheep started running, and I saw the settler attack one of the shepherds, who’s deaf, and slap him.  

When we reached the shepherds, my dogs and my uncle’s dogs surrounded the settler’s dogs. We tried to drive his dogs out with stones, but the settler pointed his gun at us and shouted, “Leave, leave or I’ll shoot you.” Then he pulled his dogs away, and they drew back towards a white jeep with two more settlers that were waiting for them by the road.  

Then we started moving away with the flock, because we were afraid the settlers would come back and attack us. Meanwhile, we saw the settler stop a police car that was passing by. We don’t know if he filed a complaint against us. We’re used to them attacking us and then filing false complaints against us. The police always believe the settlers’ version, and that’s why we preferred to stay away. The police car tried to reach us but got stuck on the dirt roads and then turned around and drove off.  

Because of the attack, my uncle’s sheep died and three ewes in our flock and three others in my neighbor’s flock miscarried. We pray to God there won’t be any more attacks or damage.

The construction site where Hisham Hamud is building his home, after the settlers' invasion, Jalud, 15 Apr. 2021. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem
The construction site where Hisham Hamud is building his home, after the settlers' invasion, Jalud, 15 Apr. 2021. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem

Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers invade home under construction, steal equipment and damage structure

On the morning of 15 April 2021, Hisham Hamud (30), a married father of one, discovered that settlers had invaded the building site of his home in the southern part of the village. The settlers stole a cement mixer, damaged equipment and tools, and vandalized the walls of the house and the fence around it. They also broke and uprooted some 15 olive, citrus and almond saplings Hamud had planted a month earlier. Hamud estimates the damage to his property at about NIS 10,000 (~3,080 USD).

This is the sixth time B’Tselem has documented damage by settlers to residents of Jalud or to their property in 2021. The settlements of Shilo and Shvut Rachel and the outposts of Ahiya and Esh Kodesh were established about a kilometer from the village. Ahiya was established several hundred meters east of Hamud’s home.  

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, Hisham Hamud described the damage the settlers caused him:

In early March 2021, we started building our home on a plot belonging to my family. The plot is about two dunams large [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] and lies in the southern part of Jalud, in an area defined as Area B. I’m a construction worker, so I started building the house myself and was able to lay the foundations.

On Thursday morning, 15 April 2021, while the Israelis and the settlers were on holiday because of Independence Day, I went to the building site. When I got there, I was shocked to find it severely damaged. They’d vandalized equipment, tools and the support pillars I was building. The criminals probably came from the east, from the settler farm called “Ahiya” that was established east of my plot, because they broke through the barbed-wire fence I’d put up around the plot and cut a large opening in it from the east, in order to get into the construction site.

The last time I worked at the site, I made three pillars out of planks and fixed them to pour cement into them, but the criminals knocked them down and damaged all three. I was amazed to find a small electric cement mixer I use for construction gone. I bought two cement mixers for 2,200 shekels (~677 USD) just two months ago. I tied one with a chain and bolt to a tree trunk at the construction site, so they couldn’t steal it. Instead, they cut its power cord. The other cement mixer wasn’t locked because I couldn’t find another chain, and they stole it.

They emptied about 30 sacks of cement on the ground and poured about three cubic meters of water on it, making it completely unusable. They also broke the lock on an old refrigerator that I use to store work tools, and stole them. On top of that, they cut, uprooted and broke 15 citrus, almond and olive saplings I’d planted in early March in the garden of my future home.

Here in Jalud, we’re used to extremist settlers carrying out such attacks by now. I have no conflict with residents of the village or of other villages, and the site was fully surrounded by a barbed-wire fence a meter and a half tall. They left a 2.5-meter-wide breach on its eastern side, facing the “Ahiya” farm, which is about 300 meters away. When I was looking for the stolen equipment, I found tools on the road leading there.

I estimate the damage they caused me at almost 10,000 shekels. They did everything in the dark and no one saw them. I work all week in a settlement to support my family, and put some of the money into building this small house for us to live in. Since I got married about 10 years ago, we’ve lived in a rented house in the village.

7

Deir Jarir, Ramallah District: Settlers grazed sheep and cattle in cultivated Palestinian fields. After Rabbi Arik Ascherman filmed them, they assaulted him with clubs.

On 7 April 2021, at around 5:00 P.M., three representatives of the Palestinian Authority’s National Commission against the Wall and the Settlements came to inspect the Ma’ale Ahuvya outpost, which was established on land belonging to the village of Deir Jarir. As they drove up, they found the outpost mostly evacuated but some 10 settlers still on the premises, including women and children. When the settlers noticed the car, some of them began running towards it and swearing at the representatives, who ignored them and kept driving.

As the three drove northeast of the village, they saw Israeli activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman standing by Road 449, filming four settlers who were grazing sheep and cattle in cultivated Palestinian fields. The three representatives stopped and got out of the car, at which point two of the settlers who had run towards them earlier also drove up. The settlers got out of their car, started arguing with the three and called for more settlers.

At that point, the four settlers who were grazing the herds headed towards the road and started shouting at the three representatives, threatening them and Rabbi Ascherman. Meanwhile, three more settlers appeared from the Palestinian fields, masked and armed with clubs. Several settlers drove the Palestinians out with threats. Then the two masked setters began beating Rabbi Ascherman with their clubs all over his body. A few minutes later, the settlers fled the area and the three Palestinian representatives left.

Rabbi Ascherman reported the attack to the Israel Police. Officers who arrived at the scene suggested he file a complaint at the Binyamin police station. He then drove to Jerusalem, where he received medical treatment.

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Qusrah, Nablus District: Settlers cut down dozens of olive trees in latest harassment of villagers

On the morning of 4 April 2021, farmer Jawad Hassan (55) discovered that settlers had cut down some 70 olive trees and about 20 cypress and pine trees in his plot, which lies  southeast of the village.

This is the third time since the beginning of 2021 that settlers have attacked residents of Qusrah and damaged their property.

The settlement outposts of Esh Kodesh and Ahiya were established about 1.5 kilometers south of Qusrah.

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Israeli settlers and soldiers repeatedly attack a-Tamimi family on their farmland, April 2021

In March 2021, B’Tselem documented four cases in which settlers and soldiers repeatedly tried to drive members of the a-Tamimi family and other farmers from the village of Deir Nizam out of their land and damaged their property.

One of the plots owned by the a-Tamimi family lies near the entrance to the village of a-Nabi Saleh and the roading leading to the settlement of Halamish, which was established about 200 meters away. The Zvi Bar Yosef farm outpost was established on the outskirts of the settlement, about 1.5 kilometers from the plot. Since the establishment of the outpost, Palestinian farmers have been suffering from repeated attacks on them and on their property.

Detailed below are three incidents that took place on three consecutive days in early April 2021. In every case, settlers and soldiers assaulted members of the a-Tamimi family working the plot and tried to drive them out.

3 April 2021

On the morning of 3 April 2021, members of the a-Tamimi family and other residents came to put up a fence around the plot, after receiving funding from the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture. The goal was to protect the crops from the cattle herds that settlers lead onto the land. At around midday, soldiers arrived at the scene and ordered them to stop working. When the farmers demanded the soldiers show an official order prohibiting them from working their land, the soldiers contacted the Israeli DCO to settle the matter. After two hours, the soldiers informed the farmers they could continue working as long as they did not approach the road leading to Halamish, and left the area.

At around 5:00 P.M., about 10 settlers came to the plot from the direction of the Zvi Bar Yosef outpost. The settlers, some of whom were armed, began shouting at the farmers and demanding they leave the area. The farmers refused, and then the settlers moved away and summoned soldiers. Upon arrival, the soldiers demanded the farmers stop working, cursed at them, hurled stun grenades, and fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at them. Even after the farmers left the plot, the soldiers continued hurling stun grenades and firing tear gas canisters. They pepper-sprayed two of the farmers in the face, one of whom was already in his car.

4 April 2021

The next morning, about 15 Deir Nizam residents returned to the plot. While they were working, they saw the settlers who had harassed them the day before standing and watching them from a road overlooking the plot. A short while later, soldiers whom the settlers had summoned, according to witnesses, showed up again and ordered them to stop working until a representative of the Israeli DCO came and instructed them where they were allowed to work. The soldiers then left the area. The farmers waited until evening, but no DCO representative arrived and they eventually went home.

5 April 2021

The following morning, about 10 farmers returned to the plot and continued putting up the fence around it. At around 10:00, soldiers were again called to the scene by settlers according to witnesses. They again ordered the farmers to stop their work. After an argument, it was agreed that the farmers would again wait until Israeli DCO officials decided on the matter. At around midday, a military officer arrived and demanded to see the land ownership documents. The farmers presented him with the documents, but he ordered them to wait until the DCO reached a decision in order to avoid confrontation with the settlers. The officer then left, promising to leave a military jeep there to keep the peace until a decision was made. The farmers consented, but about half an hour later, the military jeep also left the area.

About 10 minutes after the jeep left, some five settlers came from the direction of the road near Halamish, invaded the plot and began uprooting the fence posts the farmers had put up two days earlier. The farmers immediately reported their actions to an Israeli DCO representative, who promised to send soldiers to the area and asked them to wait a few minutes. After waiting several minutes while the settlers continued destroying the fence, with no soldiers in sight, six farmers went over to the settlers, who had meanwhile been joined by about seven more settlers, some of them armed. The settlers starting hitting the farmers and throwing stones at them. The farmers tried to fend them off by throwing stones, until a settler they recognized threatened to shoot and hit two of them with his rifle, one in the shoulder and the other in the head. Two other farmers sustained head injuries from stones thrown by settlers.

At that point, several soldiers arrived and hurled stun grenades at the residents, who were forced to flee. Four of the injured farmers received first aid at the medical center in the neighboring village of Beit Rima.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 11 April 2021, Nader Ayoub (45), a US citizen born in the West Bank who had come to visit the a-Tamimi family, recounted how he and his relatives were attacked by settlers on 5 April 2021:

On Monday, 5 April 2021, at around 1:00 P.M., I brought drinks and biscuits to relatives of mine who were working land near the entrance to the village of a-Nabi Saleh. When I got there, they were in the middle of a confrontation with settlers. They were fighting with fists and stones. One of the settlers was armed. He was waving his rifle and threatening to shoot.

The minute I arrived, I saw my uncle on the ground with three settlers lying on top of him, beating him with fists and stones. I tried to help him, and then the settlers attacked me. I tried to defend myself, but one of them attacked me from behind and hit me in the back of my head with a rifle butt. It hurt very much and I felt dizzy. I lost balance and fell over. My uncles came over and got the settlers off me. After a few seconds, I managed to get up enough strength to stand up, but I was still wobbly. My uncle Munir was also injured and was bleeding from the back of the head. We both moved away a bit from the settlers.

I live in the US and was visiting my family in Deir Nizam. It took me one day to witness the settlers’ violence. I was shocked by the military’s cooperation with the criminals, backing them with no justification. I was advised to file a complaint, but I don’t believe it will lead to anything. There’s a Palestinian proverb that says: Who can you complain to when the judge himself is your opponent?

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 11 April 2021, Munir a-Tamimi (50), a married father of five from Deir Nizam, recalled how the soldiers joined in the settlers’ attack on 5 April 2021:

Half an hour later, a military jeep arrived. At first it was one patrol (car), and then four or five other patrols drove up. The soldiers help the settlers drive us out. In the beginning they threw stun grenades straight at us, threatened us and pushed us. They managed to get us to leave and tried unsuccessfully to confiscate Amjad’s camera. We heard the settlers egging them on and lying to them that we’d tried to snatch a weapon. We had to keep our heads down and back away.

We’re exposed to harassment and attacks whenever we work the farmland in this area. B’Tselem has documented some of these attacks, especially recent ones by settlers from the outposts headed by a settler who's well-known among area residents.

Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers with military escort uproot utility pole installed by Palestine Electric Company and attack village resident (71) with stones and club

On 15 October 2020, residents of Jalud discovered that settlers had cut down a utility pole installed by the village council to provide electricity to homes in the southeastern part of the village. One of the homes belongs to Walid Shweiki (71), a father of seven.

On 3 April 2021, workers from the Palestine Electric Company (PEC) came to the spot with council representatives and neighborhood residents in order to install a new pole. At around midday, several settlers arrived from the direction of the Esh Kodesh and Ahiya outposts, established several hundred meters away. The settlers told the residents that the land belongs to them. Some 15 minutes later, about 20 more masked settlers arrived, running. The residents and the PEC workers fled and the settlers attacked Shweiki, who remained alone.

Two soldiers who were escorting the settlers ordered Shweiki to leave and led him away. The settlers uprooted the utility pole and shattered the windshield of a resident’s car parked nearby.

The settlers thereby ensured, with military assistance, that Shweiki and his neighbors would be forced to continue living without electricity.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Walid Shweiki (71) recounted the attack:

While the laborers were working, several settlers came from the direction of the outpost, which is about 300 meters away. One of them said, “What are you doing here? This isn’t your land!” Then an argument developed over who owns the land. The settlers said it’s theirs and that our land is in Saudi Arabia. When they saw we were ignoring them and not leaving, one of them said, “Now we’ll bring more people to get you out of here.” I saw one of them talking on the phone.

After 10 or 15 minutes, I saw about 20 masked settlers running towards us from the east. The council head and the other residents ran away and I was left alone with the settlers. It was the first time I’d ever seen anything like it. I wanted to get away from there, too, but I’m elderly and can’t walk fast or run. The settlers ran towards me and started throwing stones at me. One of them hit me with a club and tried to knock me down, but I stayed standing. Another threw a large stone at me and I pushed it away with my hands.

There were two or three soldiers there, and one of them said to me, “Go on, get out of here.” I asked him, “Don’t you see what they’re doing?” He said, again, “Go on, get out of here.” Meanwhile, the settlers kept shouting and throwing stones at me and the soldiers did nothing to them. Two soldiers walked with me for about 60 meters until I was some way away from the settlers. Meanwhile, the settlers uprooted the utility pole and threw it on the ground in front of the soldiers.

I went home and shut the door and the windows. I was scared the settlers would come after me. Then I drove to my family, who were in Jerusalem. Since the settlers cut down the utility pole in October, I’ve had no electricity at home and it’s impossible to live there.

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