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

March 2021

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A fence vandalized by settlers in Bilal Badawi's plot, Qaryut, 20 March 2021
A fence vandalized by settlers in Bilal Badawi's plot, Qaryut, 20 March 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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An engineering tool sweeps the ground in the land of Nu'man Samhan, Ras Karkar, 17.3.2021. Photo: Courtesy of the witness
An engineering tool sweeps the ground in the land of Nu'man Samhan, Ras Karkar, 17.3.2021. Photo: Courtesy of the witness

Ras Karkar, Ramallah District: Settlers rake farmer’s land, uproot mature olive trees and sabotage well

On the morning of 17 March 2021, farmer Nu’man Samhan (65), a father of one, discovered that settlers had raked five dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] of his land, uprooted 15 olive trees that were about 50 years old and damaged a well there.

The settlement outpost of Zayit Ra’anan was established near the plot, which is surrounded by the outpost fence. The military only allows Samhan to access his plot twice a year, during the plowing and harvest seasons, and only after prior coordination with the Israeli DCO.

Last year, on 9 September 2020, Samhan discovered that settlers had raked parts of his land and damaged about 20 mature olive trees. A week later, they returned and destroyed another 170 trees, in order to prepare Samhan’s land for running sewer pipes through it to serve area outposts.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Nu’man Samhan described the settlers’ damage to his crops and property:

My family owns about 50 dunams of olive groves that we inherited from our grandparents 50 years ago. When I was a child we used to come to the land and stay on it for days, weeks, and even months. Our land has a well and more than 200 olive trees, which are 50 years old. They  are now surrounded by the fence of the Zayit Ra’anan outpost. We’re only allowed to go there twice a year: once during the plowing season at the beginning of the year, and once during the harvest season at the end of the year, based on prior coordination with the Israeli DCO.

Last September, we found out that settlers had uprooted 20 olive trees, which were 50 to 60 years old, in order to lay a sewer pipe in the ground. A week later, we found out that the settlers had damaged about 170 more olive trees and stolen their crops.

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Bani Na’im, Hebron District: Settlers stone shepherds, lightly stab one and fire at their dogs

On 15 March 2021, three Palestinians shepherds took their flocks out to pasture along with three dogs.

At around 2:30 P.M., four settlers approached them from the direction of the Yosef Or settlement outpost, also with three dogs in tow. The settlers attacked the shepherds and their flocks with stones.

One of the settlers fired a shot at the shepherds’ dogs, who ran away. He also threatened one of the shepherds with his gun, forcing him to gather the flock and leave the area. The settlers attacked a ewe and when one of the shepherds tried to fend them off, an armed settler wounded him lightly in the finger with a knife.

Meanwhile, the shepherd's father, who came home, reported the attack to the Israeli Civil Administration. About an hour later, a Civil Administration officer came to the spot and suggested the shepherds file a complaint at the Kiryat Arba police station. The residents and the settlers dispersed.

The following day, the shepherds went to the police station but after a futile six-hour wait, went home without filing a complaint. The next day, one of the shepherds went to the police station and managed to file a complaint.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, shepherd ‘Ali Hamdan (24), a married father of two, recalled the attack by the settlers:

I was grazing my flock in a valley near Khirbet ‘Ein al-Hamrah, about a kilometer and a half south of the settlement of Pnei Hever. There were two other shepherds from my family there.

Suddenly, I saw four settlers running towards us. I know one of them as “Nathan,” who set up a farm on the southern edge of Pnei Hever. He grazes his flock among our cultivated crops. The settlers were heading towards my cousin Muhammad, who was grazing the sheep closest to the settlement. I was afraid they’d attack him. I called Muhammad and my uncle Saber and warned them. I also called my father at home and told him what was happening.

While I was talking to Muhammad, he told me the settlers were attacking his flock with stones. A few minutes later, I saw the settlers coming in my direction. Two of them stopped at a high spot, and the other two continued towards me. Meanwhile, I saw Muhammad and Saber running in my direction. My dogs ran towards the settlers’ dogs, and then the settler “Nathan” fired a shot at my dogs, who ran and hid among the sheep.  

Then “Nathan” drew closer with another settler, and they started throwing stones at my flock. I yelled at them to stop. “Nathan” pulled out his gun, aimed it at me from about a meter away, and threatened to shoot. The two settlers standing on top of the hill threw stones at the flock, so I had to draw back and return home. Saber and Muhammad stayed put.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Saber Manasrah (42), a married father of six, recounted what happened after ‘Ali returned home:

After ‘Ali moved away with his flock, I saw “Nathan” and the other settler grab a ewe that was lagging behind the flock and throw her on the ground. I intervened to get her out of their hands. “Nathan” pushed me with a sharp object and injured one of my fingers. Meanwhile, ‘Ali’s father came. He called a Civil Administration officer named Husam Ma’adi and told him what happened. Then I saw the settler “Nathan” talking on the phone, and I realized he was also talking with Husam.

The settlers let the ewe go. “Nathan” stayed there with the other settler, and I stayed with Muhammad and ‘Ali’s father, and we waited for more than an hour until Husam arrived. When he got there, he tried to calm things down. When he saw my injury, he suggested I file a complaint with the Israeli police. Then we all went home.

The shepherds live about three kilometers south of Bani Na’im. The settlement of Pnei Hever was established about a kilometer away. In 2018, settlers established the Yosef Or outpost on the southern edge of the settlement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qawawis, South Hebron Hills: Settlers attack Palestinian car with children inside and beat father unconscious

On 13 March 2021, at around 8:00 A.M., Um Lasafa residents Sa’id (49) and Rima (40) ‘Awad went with their three children and 12 nephews and nieces to their land, which lies in the Qawawis area of the South Hebron Hills. When they reached the plot, near which the outpost of Mitzpe Yair has been established, the family saw a settler grazing his flock in their olive grove. After Rima ‘Awad began filming him, he called for more settlers and 12 others arrived, with masked faces, and attacked the family with stones. The settlers shattered the windshield and a side window of the family’s jeep with some of the children inside.

Two of the couple’s children, Sanad (15) and Mu’az (12), went aside and tried to drive the settlers away from their family by throwing stones at them. Meanwhile, two settlers approached the rest of the family and attacked Rima and Sa’id with an iron pipe and stones, as well as with their bare fists. After Sai’d lost consciousness, the settlers fled the area. A soldier arrived and called for an Israeli ambulance and for military back-up.

An Israeli ambulance took Sa’id and Rima to the road leading to the Mitzpe Yair outpost. From there, they were transferred to two Palestinian ambulances that took them to ‘Alia Governmental Hospital in Hebron. The children were taken home by relatives and villagers from Um Lasafa.

The couple underwent medical examinations and X-rays, which revealed that the settlers had broken Sa’id’s lower jaw and injured him in the head, while Rima suffered bruising in various parts of her body. Sa’id was transferred to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron, where he underwent surgery to set his jaw the following day.

On 17 March 2021, Sa’id ‘Awad file a complaint at the Kiryat Araba police station.

Members of the family gave the following testimonies to B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash:

In his testimony, Sai’d ‘Awad (49), a married father of 10 from Um Lasafa, recounted:

My family and I own more than 200 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] of farmland in Qawawis. The Mitzpe Yair outpost was established northwest of our land, right next to it. Last year, a settler named Yossi started grazing his flock in our fields. We filed several complaints with the Civil Administration and the Israeli police, but nothing happened.  

Despite this situation, I go to the land every Saturday with my family. We tend to the 150 olive seedlings we planted there a few months ago, and spend time with the kids.

On Saturday, 13 March 2021, I drove there in our jeep with my wife Rima and 15 small children: our three kids – Sanad (15), Mu’az (12) and Asil (7) – and nephews and nieces of mine. When we got there, we saw the settler Yossi grazing his flock in the cultivated part of our land. I got out of the jeep with my wife and our two sons, Sanad and Mu’az, and my wife started filming the settler. I heard him talking on the phone and asking more settlers to come. Within five minutes, 12 settlers arrived, including a man that I recognized as Yossi’s brother. As they drew near, they covered their faces and started throwing stones at us and at our car.

I stood in front of the car, picked up a stick and waved it at the settlers. I yelled at them not to come near because there were children in the car. Two settlers went up to my wife. One of them was holding an iron pipe about a meter long. He hit her with it and knocked her to the ground. I threw the stick at them to get them off my wife, and they left her and started coming towards me.  

The settler with the pipe hit me in the face, head and jaw – and I fell down. The other settler threw a stone that hit me in the left hand, with which I was holding the phone to call the police. He broke the phone and it fell to the ground. I got up and tried to defend myself. I picked up stones and tried to throw them at the settlers and run after them. My two sons, Sanad and Mu’az, moved away and also started throwing stones at the settlers. The whole time, I heard the kids screaming in the jeep. Later, I found out that my daughter Asil had tried to protect them by hiding the little ones between the seats and shouting from inside the car. I took a few steps and then collapsed and blacked out.

I woke up in hospital with sharp pain in my jaw and head. It turned out that my lower left jaw is broken in several places, and I have bruising in the upper part of my head and around the left eye. Then they transferred me to another hospital, because they didn’t have a doctor who specializes in jaw surgery. After the doctors completed the tests, they decided to operate on me the following day in order to set the jaw. They said that it would have to stay set for at least two months. That means I can’t go to my job in Israel for two months, and the large family I support will suffer without this income.

 In her testimony, Sai’d’s wife and mother of six, Rima ‘Awad (40), recalled:

Two settlers approached me. One of them was holding an iron pipe. He hit me on the left side of my body and I fell down. He tried to snatch the phone out of my hand, but my husband threw his stick at them and they backed away from me. I got up, doubled up in pain from the blow.

I saw the settler with the pipe go over to my husband, who was standing in front of our jeep, and attack him with the pipe. My husband fell down and then got up, walked several steps and fell over again. The attack was very quick and when my husband fell over again, the settlers fled.

I saw four soldiers quite far away from us. I was very worried about the small children – I heard them shouting from inside the jeep. Asil later told me how she’d tried to protect them and moved the little ones to sit between the seats. I saw my son Sanad go over to the soldiers and come back with one of them to show him his father, who was lying on the ground with a head injury.

I’m trying to remember what happened. I can’t believe we survived an attack by a whole group of hateful settlers who threw stones at us and at our jeep. They smashed the windshield and a side window while 13 small children were sitting inside, who could’ve been injured. It’s hard to believe my husband’s still alive after the blows he took to the head from the iron pipe.

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The residential shack towed away by settlers and damaged. Photo by Iyad Haddad, B'Tselem.
The residential shack towed away by settlers and damaged. Photo by Iyad Haddad, B'Tselem.

Al-Ka’abneh community, Ramallah District: Settlers try to tow away residential shacks and damage one

On the evening of 12 March 2021, at around 8:00 P.M., residents of the Badu a-Mu’arrajat community noticed several vehicles, apparently belonging to settlers, drive up to the shacks in which the 25 members of the Ka’abneh family live. The settlers towed away one shack, abandoning it in a shambles some way away, and apparently tried unsuccessfully to tow away at least one other. Soldiers stationed at a military outpost in a nearby junction, which has a watchtower overlooking the area, did not intervene.

The shacks are the permanent residence of the Ka’abneh family and lie south of the village of a-Taybah in Ramallah District, about a kilometer from Badu al-Mu’rrajat. The family lives there in summer, and in winter relocates with their flock to a site about two kilometers to the southeast.

The following morning, members of the Ka’abneh family arrived and found the shack destroyed. They notified the Israel Police, but officers arrived only two days later and suggested the family file a complaint at the Binyamin police station.

The family went to the police station twice, but the officers refused to register their complaint, claiming that there was no Arabic-speaking investigator present. 

The settlement of Rimonim was established in 1980 about two kilometers from the community. Several outposts have been put up around the settlement over the years, whose residents graze sheep and cattle in the fields of local Bedouin communities and destroy their crops. In addition, settlers from the outposts harrass local Palestinian residents daily, attacking and threatening them to try and make them leave the area, in order to take over their land. On 14 April 2021, settlers from the outpost harassed three Bedouin brothers who were grazing their flocks in the area and filed false complaints against them. The military unjustifiably detained the brothers for five days, and they were eventually released on a NIS 3,000 bail (~870 USD).

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, ‘Odeh Ka’abneh (36), a married father of six, described his family’s situation since settlers took up residence nearby:

We’re a Bedouin family of 25. We’ve been living here for 50 years as shepherds, raising our livestock. We have about 200 sheep, which are our main source of livelihood. In the winter, we move our flock to the Badu a-Mu’arrajat area. The settlement of Rimonim was established about two kilometers away from us.

More than two years ago, settlers set up a farm about two kilometers north of our farm, outside Rimonim’s fence. They have about six or seven shacks. Since they came to the area, they’ve been harassing us to try and make us leave. They drive us out of pastureland and sometimes threaten us with weapons. We filed complaints, but the Israeli police and the military do nothing.

It got to the point where the “Torat Tzedek” organization started sending volunteers to escort us. Last summer, they even lived with us in order to document the setters’ aggression. But the documentation and the complaints we’ve filed didn’t help, because the military and the police always back the settlers. They claim we don’t have documents proving we own the land, but they don’t demand such documents from the settlers. The settlers claim the land is theirs because God gave it to them, that they have a right to live in it and that we should leave. Where will we go? We were here before the settlers and have lived here for several generations.

Now, every year, they take advantage of the period we move to a-Mu’arrajat in winter and leave our shacks here until we return in April.

On Friday evening, 12 March 2021, the Fazza’ family – another Bedouin family that lives a kilometer or two from our community – informed us that they’d seen the lights of a vehicle that apparently belongs to settlers, and that they were vandalizing our shacks. We were afraid that if we got there at night, the settlers would hurt us, so we waited until morning.

The following day, I went there with my father and my brothers and an Israeli activist from “Torat Tzedek” to assess the damage. It turned out they’d tried to tow one of the shacks away – they probably wanted to steal it, but failed. We found it lying ruined about 10 meters from where it had stood. It looked like they’d tried to tow another shack and destroy it, too, but were unsuccessful. We called the Israeli police, but the officers only arrived on Sunday morning. They looked at the damage and suggested we file a complaint at the Binyamin police station. My father went there that day and the next day with Arik Asherman to file a complaint, but each time they were told that the complaint couldn’t be registered because there were no Arabic-speaking investigators. We dismantled the two shacks and moved them to Badu a-Mu’arrajat, so the settlers wouldn’t try to steal them again. I don’t know if we’ll bring them with us when we go back there in April.

That’s how we live now. They don’t leave us alone for a single day and don’t let us live in peace. The Israeli military and police don’t protect us, and even if we defend ourselves, they’ll arrest and prosecute us. We don’t know who to turn to and are even thinking about abandoning the community, because we’re afraid they’ll hurt us. These people have no mercy and no God. Our situation is unbearable. Only God knows what we’re going through.

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Deir Nizam, Ramallah District: Settlers repeatedly drive farmers out of their land with help of soldiers and Israeli authorities

On 9 March 2021, five members of the a-Tamimi family from the village of Deir Nizam went to one of their plots, which lies near the neighboring village of a-Nabi Saleh. A settler named Zvi, who established the Zvi Bar Yosef farm outpost nearby  and grazes his cattle on land belonging to local farmers, noticed them when they arrived. He summoned soldiers, who drove the farmers out of their land and confiscated their tractor, on the pretext that they were on “state land.”

On the morning of 17 March 2021, several family members went to another plot they own, located about 600 meters west of the first plot and about 200 meters from the settlement of Halamish. A few months ago, the family planted 2,400 almond seedlings in this plot and put up a fence around them, as part of a program supported by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and the Palestinian Center for Development. When they got there, they found that settlers had uprooted a large part of the fence. While they were repairing it, several settlers appeared and led their cattle onto the family’s plot to graze. An argument broke out over ownership of the land. The settlers – including Zvi from the outpost mentioned above, who was armed –  summoned soldiers and an official from the Israeli Antiquities Authority, who ordered the family to stop working and leave their land, on the grounds that it was a closed military zone.

On the afternoon of 19 March 2021, the family again came to their plot and found Settlers grazing cattle on its outskirts. One settler threatened to shoot the family if they did not leave. A few minutes later, more settlers arrived, including Zvi. They were followed by several soldiers, who dispersed both the settlers and the family.

The following morning, 20 March 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., the a-Tamimi family returned to their land (200 meters from which the settlement of Halamish was established) to continue working, and discovered that settlers had uprooted most of the seedlings they had planted. The family reported the incident to the Palestinian DCO and called village residents, who helped them replant the seedlings.

Later that afternoon, several members of the a-Tamimi family returned to the first plot, which lies near the entrance to the village of a-Nabi Saleh. About eight soldiers and officers appeared and told them to leave. When the family refused, the soldiers demanded to see the land deeds. Yet presenting the documents did not suffice. About 20 other village residents gathered at the scene. At that point, an officer ordered the soldiers to hurl stun grenades and shoot tear gas canisters at them. The residents fled some 50 meters away, where they stopped and watched the unfolding scene. They saw a soldier uproot two olive seedlings that had been planted in the plot, but were unable to do anything. At around 6:00 P.M., the residents went home.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Munjed Tamimi described the invasions and harassment, the family’s violent expulsion from their land, and their helplessness in the face of the settlers’ takeover intentions:

The acts of aggression and harassment by settlers from the outposts against farmers from our village don’t stop, but increase with every day that goes by. We’re particularly troubled by the “Zvi’s Farm” outpost, where the settler has a herd of about 50 cows. He’s constantly grazing them on the land of Palestinian farmers near Halamish, such as in Um Lasafa, a-Nabi Saleh and Deir Nizam. He and his herd vandalize our land and property as if it were their private territory. The settlement security guards, the military and the Israeli police always protect him and drive us out. Sometimes he’s also helped by the Israel Parks and Nature Authority or Israel Antiquities Authority staff, who also drive us out.

In one such incident, on 20 March 2021, we showed them the land deeds after they demanded them. They had nothing to say. The officer talked on the phone with someone, probably some official, and I heard him say that we have the deeds and that there’s no cause to uproot the seedlings. The person he spoke to replied that they’re small seedlings now, but when they grow they’ll block the view in front of Halamish. I heard him order the officer to drive us out even if he had to use force to do so.

At the end of the conversation, he ordered the soldiers to throw stun grenades at us from short range. At first, there were only about seven of us there, but then backup arrived from our village and from a-Nabi Saleh, and we were already 30 to 40 people. We were careful not to get dragged into a confrontation with them, because that’s what they want. When they saw that we weren’t moving, they also fired tear gas canisters at us.

To get away from the gas, we went about 50 to 70 meters away and waited there for the soldiers to leave. I saw one of them uproot two olive seedlings. We filmed him. We were furious and yelled at them that it’s not manly to take revenge on the trees. Meanwhile, it was getting dark and it wasn’t possible to work the land anyway, so we went home, hoping to come back to the land the next day to complete the work.

It seems it will be a long struggle, but we’re ready for it. The land is like our soul, and we won’t give in to them.

The settlement of Halamish was established about 200 meters away from the village.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15

Burin, Nablus District: Settlers attack family working its land with stones, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas

On Monday, 15 February 2021, Yasser (39) and Suha (37) ‘Umran arrived at their plot on the eastern side of the village. Three of their seven children, aged 8, 10 and 11, came with them, as well as a relative, Baker ‘Abd al-Haq (31).

At around 3:30 P.M., two settlers arrived at the plot and ordered the family to leave. When they refused, the settlers themselves left, but returned half an hour later with reinforcements – about 15 more settlers, some of them masked and two of them armed. The settlers began throwing stones at the family, hitting Suha ‘Umran and her children. They also uprooted olive saplings the family had planted earlier that day. The family tried to protect themselves by throwing stones at the settlers, at which point the settlers began firing rubber-coated metal bullets at them and throwing tear gas canisters and smoke grenades. The family had no choice but to flee and wait at a safe distance.

Several minutes after that, two soldiers arrived. They spoke with the settlers while the latter went on damaging the grove, and left after several minutes without arresting or removing the settlers. Yasser ‘Umran reported the attack to the village council and the family returned home, with Suha and the children bruised from the stones.

This is the second time the ‘Umran family have been attacked by settlers while working their land.

Residents of Burin, which is surrounded by the settlements of Har Bracha and Yitzhar, have been suffering for years from repeated attacks by settlers. In the 1980s, the settlement of Yitzhar was built about a kilometer south of the village.

Har Bracha was built about a kilometer northeast of it. Both settlements were built on land belonging to Burin and neighboring villages.

Family members described the violent attack they suffered in testimonies they gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i.

Yasser’ Umran:

For an entire week during February 2021, we worked to get the land ready for planting and sowing: I, my wife and our children cleaned it up and then plowed it. On Monday, 15 February 2021, my wife and I went to the plot with three of our children, Adam (11), Rafif (10) and ‘Anud (8), as well as my nephew, Baker al-Haq (31). We brought 40 olive saplings with us and several types of grain seeds.

While we were working, settlers showed up and one of them demanded we leave the area. I speak Hebrew well, and I told him we would not leave. After about half an hour, they came back with 15 or more masked settlers, who were running towards us quickly while throwing stones. Some began uprooting the saplings we had managed to plant. I told them, “Why are you uprooting the trees?! Every religion prohibits it. This is madness! Leave the trees!” But then they started breaking the olive saplings we hadn’t managed to plant yet.

Baker and I tried to protect the family, and I shouted to my wife to take the children and leave.

Suha ‘Umran related being hit by the stones the settlers threw and fleeing with her children:

I tried to hide with the children behind the rocks. There were a lot of settlers there. Some threw stones, and others uprooted the trees we had planted. I held my children’s hands and we ran. One stone hit my daughter. She fell and got up again, and we kept running. A settler threw a tear gas canister and also fired a “rubber” bullet. It was the first time I’d seen them with something like that. I thought only soldiers had tear gas canisters and “rubber” bullets. We ran until we were far away, and I continued watching from a distance what was going on, because I was worried about my husband and his nephew.

Yasser’ Umran recounted how the settlers used military crowd control weapons, and described the indifference of the soldiers who arrived and abandoned his family to their fate:

We hid behind the rocks to protect ourselves from the stones, but that wasn’t enough for them. They fired “rubber” bullets at us and threw tear gas canisters and smoke grenades. I was shocked. Two of the settlers were armed and they fired live rounds, too. Baker and I ran away, zigzagging to dodge the bullets. I saw the rubber bullets hit the ground and raise dirt in the air.

When we got to my wife and kids, we all moved away from the plot, hid behind some olive trees and watched what was going on from a distance. The settlers went on breaking the olive saplings and throwing them far away. They threw away the grain seeds, too. Then, two soldiers came from the direction of the settlement, but the settlers ignored them and the soldiers didn’t do anything. They spoke to them for a short while, and then left and let them stay there, going wild and destroying our property.

Suha ‘Umran talked about how the attack affected her children:

The kids were very scared. At home, I saw they had bruises from the stones on their backs and legs. I also had a bruise on my back. I didn’t really feel it when I got hit, because I was focused on getting the kids out of there. The kids have asked us to leave the village and move somewhere else, because the settlers attack us all the time. They attacked us a few months ago too, when we were working the land, and scattered all of our and our children’s things. My daughter Rafif (10) has started wetting the bed. They keep talking about the incident, and they’re afraid of everything. Any loud sound or sudden noise startles them, and if they hear gunfire, they get very stressed.  I’ve contacted some organizations to look into treatment options for them, but because of the coronavirus and the lockdown, it hasn’t gone anywhere yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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