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.
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.