Skip to main content
Menu
From the field
Topics

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

January 2021

24

Burin, Nablus District: Settlers try to approach village homes; soldiers escorting them open live fire in the air

On 24 January 2021, at around 4:00 P.M., some 10 settlers escorted by several soldiers arrived at the outskirts of the eastern neighborhood of the village of Burin and stopped next to an abandoned home. The soldiers fired in the air to disperse the village residents who had gathered there to block the settlers’ way and prevent them from advancing into the neighborhood. The settlers and the soldiers left at around 5:00 P.M.

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

An uprooted olive seedling in Taysir Samamrah’s plot. Kh. Shuweika, 24 Jan. 2021. Photo by Naser Nawaj’ah, B’Tselem
An uprooted olive seedling in Taysir Samamrah’s plot. Kh. Shuweika, 24 Jan. 2021. Photo by Naser Nawaj’ah, B’Tselem

Khirbet Shuweika, Hebron District: Settlers uproot 100 olive seedlings

On 24 January 2021, farmer Taysir Samamrah (59) discovered that settlers had uprooted about 100 out of the 200 olive seedlings he had planted in his plot. The settlement outpost of Mitzpe Eshtamoa was established about a kilometer from the plot. 

23

Burin, Nablus District: Settlers stone a house under construction for the third time since June 2020

On 23 January 2021, some 10 settlers, including the security coordinator of Har Bracha, and about five soldiers, arrived at the outskirts of the northeastern neighborhood of Burin. The settlers began stoning a house under construction, about a kilometer away from the settlement outpost of Sneh Ya’akov (Givat Ronen). At the time, the owner, Ibrahim ‘Eid (43), and several workers were at the house. Several villagers gathered at the scene and defended the home from the settlers. Shortly afterward, the settlers left without causing damage.

This was the third attack on ‘Eid’s home by settlers since June 2020: On 18 June 2020, settlers threw stones at the home, breaking its water pipes and torching olive and almond groves in its vicinity. Soldiers who came to the area hurled tear gas canisters and fired rubber-coated metal bullets at residents who had gathered to defend the property. On 9 October 2020, settlers stoned the neighborhood’s homes. A short while later, the security coordinator of Har Bracha stopped a village resident passing by, smashed his car window, fired two shots in the air, grabbed him and handed him over to the soldiers, who detained him for three days for no reason. On 10 October 2020, settlers threw stones at the home, breaking several of its windows. This time, too, soldiers arrived and hurled tear gas canisters at the residents.
 
The residents of Burin, which is flanked by the settlements of Har Bracha and Yitzhar, have been suffering from repeated attacks by settlers for years. Yitzhar was established in the 1980s about a kilometer south of the village, and Har Bracha was established about a kilometer to the northeast, both on land belonging to Burin and neighboring villages.

An uprooted seedling cut down by settlers in ‘Abd Ahmad’s plot. Kafr a-Dik, 23 Jan. 2021. Photo by ‘Abd Ahmad
An uprooted seedling cut down by settlers in ‘Abd Ahmad’s plot. Kafr a-Dik, 23 Jan. 2021. Photo by ‘Abd Ahmad

Kafr a-Dik, Salfit District: Settlers cut down 120 olive seedlings

On 23 January 2021, ‘Abed Ahmad, a 60-year-old father of six, came to his land and discovered that settlers had uprooted all 120 olive seedlings he had planted four years ago in his plot, which stretches over 16 dunams [1 dunams = 1,000 sq. meters] north of the village. The settlement of Bruchin was established about a kilometer north of his land.  

In addition, the settlers invaded a small agricultural structure located in a nearby olive grove belonging to Muhammad Ayub (60), a father of five. They broke the lock, smashed a window and vandalized a mattress and kitchen utensils stored there.

21
Jad Suaftah (3), who was hit by a stone a settler threw at the car he was traveling in, Givat Assaf, 21 Jan. 2021. Photo: Suaftah family
Jad Suaftah (3), who was hit by a stone a settler threw at the car he was traveling in, Givat Assaf, 21 Jan. 2021. Photo: Suaftah family

Road 466, near settlement of Givat Assaf, Ramallah District: Settlers assault Palestinian family's car with clubs and stones, injuring mother and toddler

On Thursday evening, 21 January 2021, H. (26) and 'Alaa (35) Suaftah, residents of Ramallah, were driving with their two children, Majd (6) and Jad (3), to visit family in the town of Tubas. When they reached a point about 300 meters away from Route 60 and from the entrance to the settlement of Givat Assaf, the couple noticed dozens of masked settlers blocking the road, holding stones and clubs.  

H., who was driving, stopped the car. The settlers surrounded the car and began hitting it with stones and clubs, smashing the window on the driver's side and the left rear window. One of the stones hit H. in the hand, and another hit three-year-old Jad, who was sitting in the backseat, in the cheek. A few seconds later, H. started driving again and when she accelerated, the assailants scattered.  

H. drove to the nearest junction, where she stopped next to soldiers and police officers who were guarding other settlers spread out in the area. After H. and her husband reported the attack, the police officers photographed the car and called an ambulance.  

About 15 minutes later, an Israeli paramedic arrived on a moped and gave Jad first aid. About 20 minutes after that, a Red Crescent ambulance arrived and took Jad to a clinic in al-Bireh. His father and brother rode with him and his mother drove after the ambulance.  

Jad was examined and X-rayed, and after no fractures were found, was transferred to the Mujama Falastin Medical Center in Ramallah for observation. He was discharged at around 11:00 P.M., and the family returned home.

In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, H. Suaftah recounted how the settlers attacked her family and injured her toddler:  

We were planning to celebrate Majd's sixth birthday with 'Alaa's parents, who live in Tubas, and spend the weekend there. I was driving. When we were several hundred meters from the traffic light junction on Route 60, opposite the settlement of Givat Assaf, I saw someone with a flashlight blocking the road and motioning me to stop. There were more than 20 people with him. At first, I thought they were soldiers setting up a roadblock, so I stopped immediately. Suddenly, I realized they were settlers, because they were wearing masks and holding clubs and stones. I wouldn’t wish such a situation on anyone. Every second felt like an hour.  

They started kicking the car and trying to open the door, which I always lock because I have small children. They saw the children sitting in the backseat, because the man holding the flashlight pointed it into the car. He stood in front of me and oversaw the assault. They attacked us with stones and hit the chassis with whatever they could lay their hands on. I can't even describe how frightened and stressed I was. I started shouting, "For the love of God, for the love of God!" The children started screaming and crying. The stones started shattering the windows, and glass shards flew into the car. I thought we were going to die and started praying.  

I couldn't drive on because they were blocking the road from all sides. Then one of them shone the flashlight right into my face, blinding me. At some point, I decided to start driving, no matter what. I thought that either I'd save my family or we’d die. I started driving and they all scattered.  

We got to the junction and saw military and police forces near the entrance to Givat Assaf. They could see the attack against us from where they were standing, but all they did was guard the settlers who were protesting there. I stopped the car by the roadside, and we talked with the officers. We showed them the state the car was in, and they inspected it. The children were crying and we tried to calm them down. About 15 minutes later, we asked the officers to call an ambulance. An Israeli paramedic arrived on a moped and gave Jad first aid.  

About five minutes later, more officers arrived and asked us about what happened. They took one of the three stones that were inside the car and suggested we file a complaint at the Binyamin police station.  

About 20 minutes later, a Red Crescent ambulance arrived. They wanted to take Jad to a clinic in al-Bireh. My husband and Majd, who was afraid to ride with me in the car after what happened, got into in the ambulance. I drove after them, and a military jeep followed us for a few kilometers until we were far enough from the dangerous area.  

It was a crazy night. We saw death before our very eyes and were terrified beyond description. Even though it only lasted a few seconds, I can't let go of the horrifying sight of the settlers. Neither can the children, who have started sleeping in the room with us because they’re too scared to sleep alone and wake up in fear several times at night. Every time we go into a room, Majd asks me to close the door and window.  

We will never forget this incident, especially my children. I consulted with a psychologist online about how to cope and how to deal with the children. I worry about them and pray for their safety. They are the most precious thing I have in life. 

A stone thrown by settlers that smashed ‘Abd al-Karim Abu Shhadeh’s windshield, Burin, 21 Jan. 2021
A stone thrown by settlers that smashed ‘Abd al-Karim Abu Shhadeh’s windshield, Burin, 21 Jan. 2021

Burin, Nablus District: Settlers stone Palestinian cars in the presence of soldiers

On 21 January 2021, at around 8:30 P.M., some 10 settlers threw stones at a car belonging to ‘Abd al-Karim Abu Shhadeh (48), a father of seven from Burin, near the entrance to the village on the Huwarah-Yitzhar road. Several soldiers were present at the scene. The settlers smashed the car’s side window and damaged its chassis.

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

 

A window shattered in Mujahed ‘Atyani’s car after settlers stoned it near the settlement of Tomer, 21. Jan. 2021. Photo by Mujahed ‘Atyani
A window shattered in Mujahed ‘Atyani’s car after settlers stoned it near the settlement of Tomer, 21. Jan. 2021. Photo by Mujahed ‘Atyani

Route 90, by the settlement of Tomer, Jordan Valley: Settlers stone Palestinian cars, shatter windows in one

On 21 January 2021, around midnight, settlers threw stones at Palestinian cars driving along Route 90, less than a kilometer from the entrance to the settlement of Tomer in the Jordan Valley. Two of the stones hit the car of Mujahed ‘Atyani (33), a married father of one from the village of Yasuf. One stone shattered the windshield and another hit the chassis on the rear right side. ‘Atyani kept driving until he was away from the area.

The settlement of Tomer was established in 1978 on land belonging to the village of Fayasil.

 

House windows smashed by settlers, Jinsafut, 21 Jan. 2021. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem
House windows smashed by settlers, Jinsafut, 21 Jan. 2021. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem

Jinsafut, Qalqiliyah District: Settlers block village entrance, stone homes and parked cars, and on their way out, smash windows of car with driver inside

On the night of 21 January 2021, at around 10:30 P.M., about eight settlers arrived in two cars at the village of Jinsafut. They blocked the eastern entrance to the village and advanced on foot into the eastern neighborhood, where they stoned the first house on the street, which belongs to the Bashir family, and two cars belonging to the family. The settlers shattered five windows in the family's home, punctured both cars' tires, and smashed a side window in one car.

Members of the family, who saw the attack from their window, went outside. The settlers fled back to their cars, which they had left at the beginning of the road leading to the village.

A van whose tires were punctured by settlers, Jinsafut, 21 Jan. 2021. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem

Meanwhile, Muhammad Yusef (23), a veterinarian from the village, was trying to get home. As the settlers' cars were blocking his way, he waited in his car until they returned and cleared the lane. On their way out, the settlers noticed Yusef and seized the opportunity to cause more damage. They smashed his windshield and a side window, got into their cars and drove off towards of the settlement of Immanuel.

After the settlers left, the Bashir family and other residents blocked the village's southern entrance with boulders to stop the settlers from returning, and called the Israel Police. About half an hour later, police officers and soldiers arrived. The police collected statements, photographed the damage, took samples of the stones and left the area.

In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, 'Alaa Bashir (39), a father of five from Jinsafut, recounted the settlers' violent invasion into his neighborhood:

We were at home with my brothers, who were visiting, and my wife Khulud was getting the kids ready for bed. Suddenly, I heard a stone hit the window of the children's bedroom. Khulud looked out the window and yelled that she could see settlers throwing stones at my car, which was parked by the house. I went outside immediately with my brothers, and we saw the settlers running towards the eastern exit of the village, which is about 200 meters from our home. We saw two cars parked at the beginning of the road leading to the settlement of Immanuel.

We ran after them but couldn't catch them. I found out they'd smashed my van's side window and punctured all of its tires.

In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, Muhammad Yusef (23), a married resident of Jinsafut, described how settlers attacked his car while he was sitting inside:

On Thursday night, 21 January 2021, I drove home from work. When I got to the eastern entrance to the village, I found two cars blocking the road. I honked and flashed my headlight at them so they would move out of the way, because I didn't know they were settlers' cars. If I’d known, I would have turned around and taken a different route home.

Suddenly, a group of about four or five settlers appeared with stones in their hands, and started throwing them at my car. I was terrified and shielded my head with my hands. They smashed the left side window and all the bits of glass landed on my head and face. They also smashed the windshield, but luckily it didn't shatter to pieces. The attack lasted about a minute, and then the settlers got into their cars and left.

What happened to me was horrible. It never crossed my mind that settlers would come all the way to our homes and attack us. There was nowhere to run. I'm still in shock and anxious because of the attack.

A few seconds after the settlers left, people from the village came and blocked the entrance with boulders to protest against the attack. I'm not optimistic and don't believe the military and the police will do right by us. I don't believe they’ll catch those settlers and punish them.

The settlement of Immanuel was established in the 1980s about two kilometers southeast of Jinsafut.

.

19

She’b al-Batem, South Hebron Hills: Settlers uproot some 100 olive seedlings

On 19 January 2021, two farmers from She’b al-Batem discovered settlers had uprooted about 100 olive seedlings in their plots, which stretch about 200 meters northwest of the settlement outpost of Avigayil. 

17
Hala Qut, who was hit in the face by a stone settlers threw at her, Madama, 17 Jan. 2021. Photo: Qut family
Hala Qut, who was hit in the face by a stone settlers threw at her, Madama, 17 Jan. 2021. Photo: Qut family

Madama, Nablus District: Settlers invade village and throw stones at young girls playing by their home, injuring two

On Sunday, 17 January 2021, at around midday, the three daughters of the Qut family – Alma (4), Masah (6) and Hala (10) – were playing by their house, which lies on the southern edge of the village. Their mother, Wiam (30), was inside with her two-month-old daughter and nine-year-old son. The father, Shaher (34), was at work in Israel.

Suddenly, several masked settlers appeared and started throwing stones at the three girls from several dozen meters away. Masah was hit in the leg but managed to run home and get her mother. The mother came out and found Hala lying unconscious on the ground, after a stone had hit her in the face. As the settlers continued throwing stones, hitting Wiam in the leg, she took the girls inside and washed Hala's face. Meanwhile, the settlers continued to throw stones at the house, breaking a kitchen window and a bedroom window.

The settlers fled when Wiam's brother- and sister-in-law, who live next door, arrived with a friend. The sister-in-law and friend took Hala to Rafidya hospital in Nablus, while Hatem, Shaher's brother, stayed with Wiam and her children. In hospital, Hala was examined, given first aid for the swelling in her face and discharged. Three days later, she returned for X-rays that revealed her nose was broken and her upper jaw fractured. The doctors determined she would need surgery to fix her nasal bones and replace a damaged tooth with a dental implant.

Like most Palestinians who live in the villages near the settlement of Yitzhar, the residents of Madama suffer repeated attacks by settlers. In 2020 alone, B'Tselem documented three settler attacks on residents' homes, including an attack on another home of the Qut family.

In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb'i, 10-year-old Hala Qut described how settlers attacked her with stones:

I was playing out front with my two sisters when suddenly, I heard voices coming from the direction of the hill. I turn to look and saw a man with a mask throw a stone at me. I fell over. When I woke up, I was in a hospital bed. I could hear the doctor saying my name. I really scared. I didn't understand where I was and didn't know what to do.

I don't remember anything about the man except that he was huge and tall. His face was covered and all I could see were his big eyes. I didn't know he was a settler. I thought he was from the village. Later, I was told they were settlers who’d thrown stones at us and at our house. I’ve asked my parents to sleep in their bed because I'm afraid they'll come back and attack us again.

I can't sleep at night. Whenever I close my eyes, I see that settler. The angry look in his eyes haunts me.

In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb'i, Wiam Qut recounted the settlers' attack on her daughters and home:

On Sunday, 17 January 2021, around midday, I was doing chores around the house. My baby Lucinda was asleep in my bedroom and my son Karam (9) was playing indoors. My three girls were playing out front, as they do every day.

Suddenly, Masah came in holding her leg and yelled, "They hit me with a stone!" I asked, "Who hit you?" and she said, "People." I went to the doorway and saw my daughter Hala lying on the ground about six meters away. I ran over to her, calling out her name, but she didn't answer. When I reached her, she still didn’t respond because she’d passed out. Her nose and mouth were bloody. I saw several masked people throwing stones at us and realized they were settlers.

Two stones hit me in the right leg and I grabbed Hala by the shoulders, because I can't lift her, dragged her inside and shut the door. I washed her face and wiped off the blood, because I didn't know where she was bleeding from. Meanwhile, I heard stones hitting the walls of the house and glass shattering. A few minutes later, the stones stopped and all I could hear was the sound of my terrified children crying.  

My brother-in-law Hatem, who lives next door, came over with his wife and a friend. My sister-in-law and the friend took Hala to hospital in Nablus, because I couldn't leave the kids alone. Hatem stayed with us, because he was afraid the settlers would come back. My husband works in Israel and gets home late.

I was so scared that I completely forgot Lucinda was sleeping in her cot in the bedroom. I ran over to her and was shocked to find two large stones and broken glass on my bed. Thank God Lucinda was safe and sound in her cot, because she often sleeps in my bed during the daytime. That day, I put her to sleep in her cot, I don't even know why. If she’d been sleeping  in my bed, she would have been hit for sure – if not by a stone, then by the broken glass that flew in. I picked her up and she was still sleeping like an angel. I started crying over what had happened to us with no warning. It’s the first time settlers have come so close to our home, and it was terrifying. They usually attack homes in the village and try to take over land, but they’ve never come as far as this into the village, because people notice them and drive them away.

Hala came home about three hours later with her father, who went from work straight to the hospital. That night and for the following two nights, she refused to sleep in her bed and slept in ours. She's terrified. We all are. Since the incident, my husband has come back every night and hasn’t stayed overnight at his workplace.

My husband covered the broken windows in the kitchen and bedroom with plastic sheets/nylon. It was freezing that night, and we all suffered.

Three days later, we took Hala for a checkup at the hospital. They X-rayed her and found that she needs surgery for her broken nose. She also has a fracture in her upper jawbone and a broken tooth, and she'll need an implant. She's scheduled for surgery on Wednesday, 27 January 2021. When we got back from hospital, Hala was very nervous about the surgery and burst into tears. I tried to calm her down, of course, but she's a little girl and it's a very hard for her.

The settlement of Yitzhar was established about a kilometer from the Qut family’s home.

 

16
A shattered window in the Idris family home, Khallet a-Natash, 16 Jan. 2021. Photo by Rajaai Tarif
A shattered window in the Idris family home, Khallet a-Natash, 16 Jan. 2021. Photo by Rajaai Tarif

Khallet a-Natash, east of Hebron: Settlers continue to stone Palestinian home despite repeated complaints to police

For three days, from 16 to 18 January 2021, settlers repeatedly attacked the home of Rajaai Idris (37), his wife ‘Aishah Tarif-Idris (36) and their six children in the neighborhood of Khallet a-Natash, east of Hebron. The settlers, some of whom were masked, arrived in the morning and in the evening and shattered five of the home’s windows. Rajaai Idris called the Israel Police with every new attack, but the officers arrived late or not at all. Idris even sent the police video footage of the attacks. The officers suggested he file a complaint at the police station and on 25 January 2021, he went to the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Idris was made to wait two hours until he was allowed into the station and an officer registered his complaint.

However, on the evening of 1 February 2021, settlers again came to the house and stoned it, some using slingshots, smashing several of its windows. Idris called the police, who again arrived after the settlers had left, about half an hour after the call. The officers photographed the stones the settlers had thrown on the roof and inside the house, as well as the shattered windows. They again suggested Idris file a complaint at the police station, yet he chose not to do so as the exercise was futile.   

The outpost of Giv’at Gal, which serves as a neighborhood of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, was established in 2014 less than 100 meters away from Khallet a-Natash. Since then, settlers have been attacking area farmers and preventing them from accessing their land.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari on 3 February 2021, ‘Aishah Tarif-Idris (36) described the settlers’ attacks and the futility of going to the police:

I live with my husband Rajaai and our six children – Zuhour (14), Qusai (12), Nisan (9), Sai’d (4), Usayed (3) and baby Awais, who’s less than a month old – in a two-story building in Khallet a-Natash. We live in one apartment and my husband’s parents and siblings live in the other four.     

Since the outpost was built, we’ve been suffering regularly from attacks by young settlers who throw stones at our home. It has a really bad effect on our children, who have recently started wetting themselves and are afraid to sleep alone in their beds. They all insist on sleeping in our bed.

On 16 January 2021, around midday, I came home from hospital after giving birth to Awais. We were so happy. I was exhausted, and all I wanted was to sleep and rest. But then settlers showed up and started throwing stones at our house. It continued the next day and the day after that, on 17 and 18 January. The settlers came in the morning and in the evening and threw stones at the building. The kids were terrified, and I was frightened and exhausted.  

On 1 February 2021, at around 3:30 P.M., settlers again showed up. They were a group of 16 or 17 year old and they started throwing stones at our home with slingshots. The stones hit the roof and windows, and the kids started crying. I tried to calm them down, while my husband tried to film what was happening on his cell phone. He called the Israel Police and two officers arrived half an hour later, but the settlers had left by then.

The officers saw the shattered windows and the stones on the roof. One of them, who introduced himself as Fuad and spoke fluent Arabic, took photos of the stones and the windows. He asked my husband not to touch the stones because they wanted to collect them, as they had the settlers’ fingerprints on them. The officers asked my husband to go to the police station in Kiryat Arba and file a complaint, but he didn’t go. It’s useless. Not to mention the fact that they make him wait outside for hours on end, or how badly he’s treated there every time he goes to file a complaint.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari on 26 January 2021, Rajaai Idris described the settlers’ repeated attacks and the false promises given by the police:

Since they built the outpost of Giv’at Gal we’ve been suffering repeated attacks by settlers, along with our relatives who live next door. Sometimes they throw stones at our homes, and at other times they prevent us from going to our farmland, which is close to here. It’s especially bad during the olive harvest season, when the settlers do as they please on our land and the Civil Administration only allows us to access it for two days.

Over the last month, the settlers’ attacks have intensified. It used to happen only on weekends and on Jewish holidays. But this year, settler kids between the ages of 12 and 17 have started throwing stones at our homes almost every day. It terrifies the children. The sound of the stones hitting the roof or the windows is petrifying. Every time it happens, I call the Israel Police. I’ve already filed dozens of complaints at the police station in Kiryat Arba, but it’s useless. There’s also a military guard post at the top of the hill, and all the attacks happen right before the eyes of the two soldiers stationed there. Filing a complaint is a nightmare in itself, because they make me wait for hours in front of the station until they let me in, and sometimes they don’t let me in at all.

In one of the attacks in January, two officers showed up after I called the police, and one of them introduced himself as Erez. They took photos of the windows and the stones, and Erez promised me they would stop the settlers’ attacks. He gave me a phone number so I could report to him and send him video footage of the attacks. I did that, but the attacks didn’t stop. Yesterday, I went to the police station and waited for over two hours until they let me in. The officer who received me was very irritated with me and demanded I show him ownership documents for the land we live on and a permit from the Civil Administration that we’re allowed to be in the area. I told him I was there to file a complaint and not present permits for my right to live in my own home. I asked him to call the officer Erez, so he’d explain to him that this was a real incident. He called him, and Erez must have sent him the video. About 15 minutes later, he took my statement and then I went home, exhausted.

a-Rihiya, Hebron District: Settlers damage some 30 three-year-old olive trees

On 16 January 2021, village residents discovered settlers had damaged about 30 three-year-old olive saplings in their plot, south of which the settlement of Beit Hagai was established.  

13
A shattered window in Hijaz Hijaz’s car after he was attacked by settlers. Turmusaya, 13 Jan. 2021
A shattered window in Hijaz Hijaz’s car after he was attacked by settlers. Turmusaya, 13 Jan. 2021

Turmusaya, Ramallah District: Settlers attack residents and torch cars in the presence of soldiers, who fire teargas canisters at the residents

In the early evening hours of Wednesday, 13 January 2021, a week after settlers scattered spikes on a road used exclusively by Palestinians, village residents noticed suspicious vehicles on their farmland. They hurried over to see what was going on. When they arrived, a vehicle belonging to the security coordinator of the settlement of Shilo blocked their way. He was joined by the guard of a farm built about a year ago near the settlement outpost of Adei Ad, several hundred meters away from farmland belonging to residents of Turmusaya. A few minutes later, about six settlers arrived and began throwing stones at the residents, who were standing and talking to the first two settlers. Most of the residents ran away. The settlers attacked 46-year-old farmer Hijaz Hijaz, who tried to fend them off using his hands, and another resident who had remained in the area. Hijaz managed to get to his car and began driving away, but the settlers gave chase and shattered a side window. This was the third time Hijaz had been hurt in a settler attack since April 2020.

The Palestinians backed away to a distance of about 70 meters, where they stopped and gathered with other village residents. Meanwhile, dozens of settlers escorted by dozens of soldiers and police officers arrived, as well. The soldiers started hurling tear gas canisters at the villagers, who retreated farther towards the village. Two of them had to abandon their cars after they were filled with teargas, and flee on foot. The settlers then went over to the cars and torched both, in full view of the soldiers. The residents noticed the flames and tried to return to put them out, but the soldiers blocked their way. After the cars burnt down completely, the forces confiscated them.

Hijaz Hijaz, 46, a father of five from the village of Turmusaya, recounted the settlers’ assault on him and the soldiers’ cooperation with them in a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 8 February 2021:

Recently, within less than nine months, I’ve been hurt three times by settler violence. On 21 April 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic started, I came to plow my land after coordinating with the DCO, and discovered that settlers had cut down 40 of my olive trees, which were 35 years old. I filed a complaint, but it didn’t do any good. This year, on 9 January 2021, my tire was punctured when I was driving on the road leading to my land after settlers had scattered dozens of spikes and nails on it.   

The third time was on Wednesday, 13 January 2021, at 6:30 P.M. We noticed headlights on our land and drove out there in two cars to check what was happening. We figured it was settlers, because they do that occasionally, and we’re used to their attacks and the damage they cause to our trees and farms there.  

I went with a friend in my car and when we approached, our way was blocked by the vehicle of the Shilo settlement’s security coordinator. We know him. He asked us where we were going and why, and we told him we were worried about the vehicles on our lands. He said we had nothing to worry about and that those were just his car’s lights and there was no one else around.

As we were talking, the security guard of the settlers’ new farm drove up to us. He’s a tall man with a long blond beard. He joined the discussion, and I told some young guys from the village who were with us that I was going back to my car. They continued talking.  

In less than two minutes, six settlers showed up. I don’t know where they came from. It was dark. They were holding clubs and stones and started attacking us right away. The Shilo security guard stood aside, and the farm guard pointed his gun at us to stop us from defending ourselves. The young guys had no choice but to retreat. I got out of the car to try and fend them off with my hands, but it was only me and another guy, Layth, who stayed there, and the settlers started attacking us. I tried to use my arms to shield my head from the stones the settlers were throwing at us. Within a few seconds, Layth and I managed to get back to my car and drive off. The settlers chased after the car and shattered the back side window.  

After I got to a safe distance, I checked to see how I was doing and I saw a few bruises, one in the right leg, one in the chest and one in the left hand.  

We pulled over 50-70 meters away from the settlers, and then more people from the village came. In the meantime, dozens more settlers came and also military and police jeeps. I suggested that we go back to the village, but some of the residents insisted on staying there. Very quickly, the soldiers started throwing stun grenades and firing teargas canisters at us, and we ran away. Two of the residents couldn’t get out in their cars because the gas was so strong, so they had to abandon them and run away on foot. When the soldiers and the settler guards were close to them, some of the settlers took advantage of the situation and torched the cars.

We saw the fire from far away and tried to go back to put it out, but the soldiers wouldn’t let us. The cars burnt down completely, and the residents dispersed because of the gas and returned home at about 7:30 P.M.  

The next day, the Palestinian DCO asked me to file a complaint at the Binyamin police station, but I refused because I don’t believe the police will attend to this matter fairly. One of the car owners filed a complaint.

A shattered window in Muhammad ‘Othman’s car, Za’atrah-Tapuah junction, 13 Jan. 2021. Photo: Muhammad ‘Othman
A shattered window in Muhammad ‘Othman’s car, Za’atrah-Tapuah junction, 13 Jan. 2021. Photo: Muhammad ‘Othman

Za’atrah-Tapuah junction: Settlers stone Palestinian cars, shatter windshield

On the evening of 13 January 2021, at around 8:30 P.M., a group of settlers threw stones at passing Palestinian cars at the Za’atrah (Tapuah) junction on Route 60.

When Mahmoud ‘Othman (39), a resident of Majdal Bani Fadel in Nablus District, drove by, one of the stones hit the windshield of his car and shattered it.

 

11

'Aqraba, Nablus District: Settlers plow Palestinian farmers’ land; soldiers and police drive farmers out and arrest one

On Monday, 11 January 2021, at around midday, residents of the villages of ‘Aqraba and Majdal Bani Fadel in the She’b al-Hayah area learned that settlers were working their plots of land. The settlement of Gittit was established in 1972 several hundred meters from the area, on land belonging to ‘Aqraba.

Dozens of village residents reached the area and encountered five settlers, including the security coordinator of Gittit, working the land with two tractors and a digger. A few minutes later, soldiers and police officers arrived and tried to drive the Palestinians out. After clashes broke out between the villagers and the settlers, which included mutual shoving, the officers arrested ‘Aqraba resident Ra’d Bani Fadel (37), claiming he had pushed a settler.

At around 4:00 P.M., faced with no other choice, the residents left the area. The soldiers and officers stayed and guarded the settlers, who continued working the land until evening. Bani Fadel was taken after his arrest to the Binyamin police station and from there to Ofer Prison, where he was held until his release on 22 January 2021 after posting bail.

Two days later, on 13 January, dozens of village residents gathered again on their land. At around 10:00 A.M., Muhammad Zein a-Din (70) and his son ‘Iz a-Din Zein a-Din (46), residents of Majdal Bani Fadel, also went to land they own in the area. As there is no paved access to the land, the two left their car by the roadside and continued for about 500 meters on foot.

After they had gone several meters, two settlers suddenly appeared behind them and hit the father, Muhammad, on the head and shoulder with a club. Muhammad fell down and saw one of the settlers run towards his son, Zein a-Din, and hit him in the head with the club while the other settler tried to knock him down. At that point, the father picked up a stone and threw it at the settlers in order to get them away from his son, while crying out for help. Soldiers quickly arrived but did not offer the two first aid and allowed the settlers to escape without arresting them. About 15 minutes later, an Israeli ambulance arrived and its crew gave the two men first aid. They were then taken in a village resident’s private car to a clinic in ‘Aqraba, and from there to hospital in Nablus, where they were X-rayed and had their wounds stitched. The two refused to stay in the hospital for observation for fear of the coronavirus.

To date, since the incident, all the residents have been prohibited from entering their land until they present documents proving ownership of the land, although they have been cultivating it for many years. Meanwhile, the settlers continue working the land unimpeded.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Ra’d Bani Fadel (37), a father of three from ‘Aqraba, described the attack on the farmers on 11 January 2021:

I work as a public relations and project manager at the SATCO electric company. My brother Ayman (53) and I inherited a plot from our grandfather. It’s located on the village's eastern side, in an area called al-Hayah, and we plant crops there every year. In 1982, the settlers tried to take over our land, but the Israeli court ruled that it’s outside the boundaries of the settlement of Gittit and wouldn’t let the settlers take it.

On Monday, 11 January 2021, at around 2:30 P.M., my brother Ayman and I went to our plot after a local shepherd called and told us that settlers were plowing our land. I called the Israeli police and the Palestinian DCO and asked them to come to the plot. When we arrived, we saw two settlers working on two tractors, as well as other settlers, one of them Gittit’s security coordinator. The settlers said they were working the Land of Israel and that it belongs to them. I tried to explain that I inherited this land from my father, who inherited it from my grandfather, that we work it all year round and plant crops on it, and that settlers or soldiers have never come there. Nothing helped. They continued plowing our land and kept taunting us and saying that this is their country and the land belongs to them. They said that our use of the land all these years was temporary, until they got it back. 

The military and the police arrived and I thought they’d arrest the settlers. But as soon as the settlers spoke to the soldiers and the police officers, the officers told us to leave. We agreed on condition that the settlers leave, too, because it made no sense for us to go while they stayed and worked our land. But the settlers refused to leave. About six to eight of us stood in protest in front of the tractor, but it didn’t bother the settler, who kept driving until he almost ran us over. We moved aside at the last minute. We didn’t know what to do. We asked the police, the military and the Palestinian DCO for help, but nothing helped. Then Gittit’s security coordinator starting shouting at us and pushed me. I pushed him back, and then he hit me on the nape of the neck. It hurt a lot. I yelled at them, “Get out of my land,” and pushed some settlement official who was there. In response, he talked with the officers and demanded they arrest me, which they did. An officer came over and handcuffed me. I thought he would only detain me on the spot, but he took me to a police car that drove me to the Binyamin police station.

At the police station, I was held in a room for about five hours. An interrogator tried to frame me in every possible way for things I hadn’t done. He accused me of throwing stones and attacking an official, but I denied everything. After the interrogation, they transferred me to Ofer Prison. The next day, I was taken back to the Binyamin police station. The same interrogator questioned me again about the same things and threatened to put me in prison. I held back and didn’t react, of course. They took me back to Ofer Prison and I stayed there until 22 January 2021. During that time, several court hearings were held. In the last one, two villagers who had witnessed the incident came and testified. I was released on bail and told that I'd have to show up if a hearing was scheduled. I haven’t received any summons so far.

It was a very rough time. I was attacked on my own land and then labeled a criminal. I have a heart condition and need to take medicine regularly. Even though I mentioned that point during the medical checkup at the prison, they ignored it and I didn’t get my medicine the whole time I was in there.
 
In testimonies they gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Muhammad and ‘Iz a-Din Zein a-Din described the attack on them two days later.
 
Muhammad Zein a-Din (70), a father of 12, recounted:

I own 30 dunams of land in the Tal al-Khashabeh area, south of ‘Aqraba and north of Majdal Bani Fadel. Every year I plow the land and sow wheat in it. This year, because the rain is late, I haven’t sown anything yet. Because the weather forecast says it will rain in the next few days, I was planning to sow the wheat like I do every year. I always plant all sorts of grains there and never have any problems.

On Wednesday, 13 January 2021, at around 9:30 A.M., I went to the area with my son ‘Iz a-Din, after we heard on the mosque loudspeakers that settlers were plowing our land. Our plot is about 500 meters away from the road. Because the way there isn’t paved, we left our cars by the roadside and advanced on foot.

I’d only gone several meters when my son, who was walking ahead of me, told me to watch out. The second I turned to look back, I was hit hard in the head and fell down. There were settlers there whom I hadn’t even noticed.

The settler hit me with a club several times on my hand and back. Then he went over to my son and hit him in the head with the club while the other settler held him. I picked up a stone and threw it at the settlers to get them off my son. I yelled and called out for help. I felt I was about to black out and didn’t know what was happening around me. Meanwhile, about 10 soldiers and several police officers arrived.

Muhammad’s son, ‘Iz a-Din Zein a-Din (46), a father of seven, recalled:

One of the settlers hit my father on the head with a club. He fell to the ground, and the settler beat him several times in the hands and back. When I saw him like that, I went mad and started yelling and calling for help, but one settler chased me and hit me in the head with the club. The other settler joined him and tried to knock me to the ground, and I tried to get away from them. At one point, I moved my head and the club hit the other settler in the head. I took a few hits in the arms and legs and fell down. I felt dizzy. My father threw a stone at the settlers to get them away from me. Meanwhile, soldiers arrived, but they didn't take any notice of the fact that my father, an elderly man who can’t harm anyone, was lying there with blood all over his face. My head was bleeding, and all my clothes, even my shoes, were stained with blood.

Several villagers arrived, and more police officers, but they didn’t do anything. The settlers had vanished and I couldn’t see them. The officers must have told them to leave because their vehicle, a Mitsubishi pickup truck, was still in the area. One of the soldiers gave us bandages, and we stayed there to wait for the ambulance. About 15 minutes later, an Israeli ambulance arrived and its crew gave us first aid. 

One of the villagers took us in his car to a clinic in ‘Aqraba. From there, they transferred us to hospital in Nablus, where we were X-rayed because of our head injuries. Then they stitched my wound with 16 stitches and also stitched my father’s wound. The doctor prescribed us painkillers and asked us to stay in the hospital for observation, but we both refused. It’s scary to be in hospital right now because of the pandemic.

We came home with bandaged heads and blood-stained clothes. The head of the village council and other residents who came to visit us told us that the settlers had plowed the land. They also plowed our plot, which covers 30 dunams. Apparently, they plowed an area of about 2,000 dunams yesterday. Two large tractors were working there and another bulldozer that cleared stones. They leveled the land and changed the surface so that it all became one big plot. They simply took over our land, calmly and quickly, under the watch of the military and the police.

10

Qusrah, Nablus District: Settlers damage some 190 olive seedlings

On 10 January 2021, three village residents discovered settlers had damaged about 190 olive seedlings they had planted about a month before on their plot south of the village. 

Turmusaya area, Ramallah District: Settlers scatter spikes on Palestinian-only road and drive iron rods into it, puncturing tire of passing truck the next day

On Sunday, 10 January 2021, settlers scattered spikes along a-Dhahrat Road and drove iron rods into it. The road, which runs about a kilometer east of the village of Turmusaya, is used by Palestinians only. Palestinians who passed by gathered the spikes and removed the rods, but apparently missed some in the dark.

The following morning, the tire of a Palestinian-owned truck driving along the road was punctured by one of the remaining rods.

9
A shattered rear window in Jamal Dar Shalabi’s car after settlers stoned it. Turmusaya, 9 Jan. 2021. Photo by Dar Shalabi
A shattered rear window in Jamal Dar Shalabi’s car after settlers stoned it. Turmusaya, 9 Jan. 2021. Photo by Dar Shalabi

Turmusaya, Ramallah District: Settlers attack farmers on their own land and drive them away with army backing; resident’s car damaged by the violence

On the afternoon of 9 January 2021, four Palestinian farmers were in their plots of land east of the village. About five settlers arrived, escorted by two military jeeps, and started provoking the farmers, swearing at them and demanding they leave. Other settlers and residents of the village quickly gathered, so that there were dozens of people on the scene. At that point, the settlers assaulted the farmers with sticks and stones, and the soldiers started firing tear gas canisters and hurling stun grenades at them. The residents fled towards the village.

About a year ago, settlers began attacking farmers from Turmusaya much more frequently, after establishing a “farm” several hundred meters east of the village, near the settlement outpost of Adei Ad.

Jamal Dar Shalabi (41), a father of five from the village, was stoned by settlers while trying to escape the violence in his car. Soldiers who were standing several meters away did nothing to protect him from the assailants, who smashed the rear window of his car and damaged its body.

The village residents moved about 500 meters away and returned home about half an hour later, after the soldiers got the settlers to head back towards the outpost.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Shalabi described the settler attack on his car:

Since the outpost and the farm were established we’ve been suffering repeated abuse and attacks by the settlers, who are trying to drive us out of our land in order to take it over.

On Saturday, 9 January 2021, at around 4:30 P.M., I got a phone call from the Israeli army telling me to come to the land east of the village. They know I speak Hebrew, and I often mediate when there’s trouble between people from the village and the army. I got there within five minutes and saw three settlers and a military jeep. More and more settlers started showing up, and another military jeep arrived, so there were about 10 soldiers in total. I spoke with the commanding officer and explained that the villagers were on their land and the settlers were those who had come there to provoke them. Meanwhile, the settlers threatened the village residents, swore at them and even tried to attack them. The soldiers ordered the residents to leave but they refused and insisted on staying on their land, because it’s their right. They demanded that the soldiers make the settlers leave, but the soldiers sided with the settlers and demanded that the residents leave.  

Gradually, the number of settlers grew until there were about 50 people there. More people from the village showed up, so there were already dozens of us. The settlers started attacking the residents with sticks and stones, and the residents started running away and retreating. The soldiers fired tear gas canisters and throwing stun grenades at us, so I had to run away, too.

I got in my car and started to turn it around with five or six settlers attacking me. The soldiers who were there didn’t raise a finger to stop the assault. I managed to turn the car around and get away, but not before they smashed my rear window and damaged the car’s body.

We all stopped about half a kilometer west of the spot and tried to calm the young guys down, so the incident wouldn’t escalate into a confrontation with serious repercussions. The mood was very tense. About half an hour later, the soldiers directed the settlers back towards the outpost. Then the soldiers came over to us and ordered us to go back to the village. The residents went back.
I stayed on the spot until 7:00 P.M., waiting for the police, but they didn’t show up. The officer suggested that I file a complaint at the Binyamin police station. I decided against it because I have no faith in them. They don’t really help us. I went home.

I think repairing the damage to my car will cost more than 2,000 shekels (~USD 600). Thank god, I wasn’t physically hurt.

On 10 January 2021, settlers scattered spikes on a road that runs through the farmland east of Turmusaya – a road that only Palestinians use – and drove iron rods into it. The following day, the tires of a truck and two other vehicles driving along the road were damaged.

7
Diaa' Rustum on a tractor in Kafr Malik’s land before his false arrest, 7 Jan. 2021. Photo: Jihad al-Qaq. Courtesy of Kafr Malik News Broadcast
Diaa' Rustum on a tractor in Kafr Malik’s land before his false arrest, 7 Jan. 2021. Photo: Jihad al-Qaq. Courtesy of Kafr Malik News Broadcast

Kafr Malik, Ramallah District: Soldiers watch settlers attack Palestinian farmers

In the summer of 2019, settlers established a new outpost on the land of Kafr Malik. The settlement of Kochav Hashahar was built near the village. In November 2020, the outpost was relocated north to agricultural lands belonging to residents of Kafr Malik and al-Mughayir, where residents of Ras a-Tin, a Bedouin community located two kilometers away, graze their flocks. Local residents have repeatedly demonstrated against the outpost. In one such demonstration, on 18 December 2020, a settler fired live rounds at the protesters and other settlers threatened them with two large dogs. Israeli security forces who were present did nothing. In another demonstration, security forces fatally shot ‘Ali Abu 'Alia, a 15-year-old al-Mughayir resident, while he watched the protest.

Since the establishment of the outpost in 2019, settlers have been attacking local farmers and preventing them from working their land. This was the case on Thursday, 7 January 2021. At around 8:00 A.M., about 15 farmers from Kafr Malik and nearby villages came with four tractors to their land, which lies about two kilometers south of the new outpost. On their way, they saw settlers in several vehicles and a military jeep pulled over by the side of the road near the land.

About five minutes after the farmers started working their land, four settlers armed with clubs arrived along with four soldiers. The settlers blocked the tractors’ way. A few minutes later, about 10 more settlers arrived, some armed with clubs, and started throwing stones at the farmers. Several farmers threw stones back at the settlers to drive them away, and a few minutes later, an argument developed between some farmers and the settlers. When a settler pushed a farmer, the argument escalated, and the settlers started attacking the farmers with clubs and stones. Some of the farmers responded by throwing stones back at the settlers.

At some point, several settlers tried to attack Diaa’ Rustum, a farmer who was driving a tractor. As he was trying to flee, a settler fired a handgun at him, hitting the tractor. This was immediately followed by several settlers attacking a car driven by another farmer who was also trying to escape, smashing its windshield and a side window.

Until that moment, the soldiers stood aside and watched the settlers attacking the farmers, ignoring the latter's requests for intervention. The soldiers only intervened after the shooting, but only to drive the farmers out. They fired tear gas canisters at them, forcing them to move back.  

At that point, dozens more settlers, about 10 military and Border Police jeeps, and police officers arrived. The settlers claimed that the tractor driver had tried to run one of them over, and the officers arrested him. The driver was released only 10 days later, after posting a 3,000 NIS (~915 USD) bail.

In an extraordinarily rare step, a representative of the Israeli DCO came to the scene and suggested the farmers go home and return on 11 January 2021, promising they would have a security escort then. On said date, at around 8:30 A.M., about ten farmers from Kafr Malik went to their land. As promised, about 20 Border Police officers and a DCO representative guarded them throughout the day. About ten settlers arrived at the land, harassing the farmers, swearing at them, and even trying to block the tractors’ way, but the police kept them at bay time and again. By the end of the working day, the farmers had managed to plow a small part of their land, which they had been afraid to access in the last two years, since the establishment of the outpost in the area.

The farmers made several attempts to file a complaint against the settlers who had attacked them at the Binyamin police station - on the day of the attack, 7 January 2021, and in the days that followed - but the officers refused to register their complaint. Only on their fourth attempt were they able to file a complaint, yet they received no confirmation of its submission.

Letting violent settlers freely attack Palestinians as security forces watch without intervening, as occurred in this instance and dozens of others, is a matter of policy. By privatizing violence in this way, Israel is able to formally disavow the actions themselves, when in fact, they further its own goals – primarily taking over more and more Palestinian land.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 12 January 2021, Khaled B’uirat (48), a farmer and father of four, described what happened that day:

About five minutes after we started working, four settlers arrived and approached us. Some were filming us while others were provoking us, yelling at us, trying to block the tractors’ way, and preventing the plowing. Within five minutes, there were already more than 20 settlers there. Despite this, the soldiers in the jeep, that had meanwhile come closer to us, did nothing but watch. When more settlers arrived, and they felt they were in a position of power over us, they started attacking us with stones. I asked the officer in the jeep if they were going to do something about it, but he ignored me.

At that point, one settler provoked a farmer, and a confrontation broke out with pushing and mutual stone-throwing. I saw one of the tractor drivers, Diaa’, trying to get away on a tractor as several settlers attacked him with stones and clubs. He was careful not to hit them. One settler in his late thirties, who was blond and had long side curls, fired three shots from a handgun that hit the tractor, and only miraculously didn’t hit Diaa’ himself. Afterwards, the settler who fired claimed that Diaa’ tried to run him over, but I saw with my very own eyes how they attacked him. He was just trying to get away from them and wasn’t trying to attack anybody.  

When I managed to reach my car, another group of settlers attacked me. There were more than five of them. I tried to dodge the beating, got into my car, and started driving. The settlers threw a stone that smashed the driver’s side window and hit me in the forehead on the left side. Despite being wounded, I managed to turn around and started driving as the settlers continued attacking the car with clubs and stones. They also broke the rear window. I kept driving until I got away and thanked God I’d managed to get out of there alive.

This whole mess lasted about five minutes. The soldiers did nothing until the farmers started defending themselves while trying to escape. Then the soldiers fired tear gas canisters at us, even though we were just trying to get away from there. They fired three or four tear gas canisters, and we could barely see anything because of the gas and the stinging in our eyes.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 7 January 2021, the tractor driver, Diaa’ Rustum (33), a father of three, described the sequence of events:

When the settlers started attacking us with clubs and stones, we couldn’t push them back because they attacked us with military backing. Several of us were driving tractors at the time, and others were too old to fight back. There were some whose cars were parked close by, and they were afraid the settlers would damage them. We had to draw back to a higher place.

I was driving my tractor at the time, and just as I tried turning around, one settler, who was blocking my way, attacked me. He had light skin, blond hair, and side curls, and he was wearing a Kippah. I think he was in his twenties. At first, he tried to grab the front of the tractor. I turned the tractor around as best I could to get away from him, and then he pulled out a gun and fired straight at the tractor, hitting its right side and the radiator. When he fired at me, I thought he would kill me because we were only a meter or two apart. I stayed alive only by the grace of God. I was very confused and didn’t know exactly how many bullets he’d fired because the gun shots were mixed with the blows of the stones the other settlers threw. Later on, I saw three bullet holes in the tractors’ chassis.

In those moments, the soldiers intervened in favor of the settlers. They started firing tear gas canisters at us while we ran away. We couldn’t stand the smell of gas and felt suffocated. We managed to get away to a safe place and started checking if everyone was alright. I wasn’t hurt myself, but the tractor’s radiator was leaking water, so I drove north to ‘Ein Samiah to fill it up. While I was there, a military patrol drove up to me, confiscated my ID card, and ordered me to drive after them without explaining why.

When we arrived at a place near the Alon Road, we encountered an Israel Police patrol car. The soldiers handed them my ID card, and then the officers told me, “You’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you.” I asked why I was being arrested, and it turned out that the settler who’d fired at the tractor had filed a complaint against me, claiming that I’d tried to run him over. I tried to explain what happened, but they ordered me to be quiet until I appeared before a police investigator. Then they tied my hands in front with metal zip ties and took me to the backseat of the patrol car, where they sat me between two officers. I asked about the tractor and what they were going to do with it, and they said they’d confiscate it for the investigation. They still haven’t given it back to me.

They took me to the Binyamin police station. When we got there at around 10:00 A.M., they put me in a small, dark 1.5-square-meter cell, where I could only stand or sit. It was totally bare. About two hours later, they led me to the interrogation room and questioned me about the incident. The interrogator accused me of trying to run over the settler. I explained to him what happened, that the settler was the one who tried to block my way and that I tried to avoid contact with him. I told him he fired at me and almost killed me. The interrogator watched the videos the settlers had filmed and another farmer had broadcast on Facebook. None of the videos showed anything that proved the settlers’ allegations. The interrogator questioned me for more than two hours.  

Then they transferred me to an interrogation room with two or three interrogators. I think they were all officers. The one leading the interrogation showed me a video, frame by frame, and asked me questions. It took hours. I was starving. I hadn’t eaten anything since the morning and only drank a bit of water between interrogations. They only let me go to the bathroom once.   

At around 10:00 P.M., they took me back to the cell while I was still handcuffed. They wore me down with all those questions. I felt exhausted, and there was no place to sleep. The cell was too small and had no blankets. As I sat on the cell floor, one of the interrogators came from time to time and asked me questions through a small window until 2:00 A.M. I was the victim here, and the settler was the perpetrator. He should have been punished.

At 2:00 A.M., they transferred me, with my hands still tied, to Ofer Prison, where they put me in a holding cell in Wing 14. I stayed there until Sunday morning. Then there was a court hearing. I talked with the lawyer who represented me for several minutes and told him what happened to me. During the hearing, my lawyer demanded that I be interrogated again because there were problems with the first interrogation. The judge agreed and adjourned the hearing.

On Tuesday morning, they took me back for interrogation at the Binyamin police station. I explained to the interrogator again the sequence of events according to the video clips, frame by frame, and made it clear that I was innocent. The interrogator told me, “Why didn’t you say these things in the first place?” I had given the same version the whole time, but apparently, they didn’t want to look bad because they distorted the truth, especially after my lawyer asked the judge to check the videos. The interrogation lasted about five hours, and then they took me back to the holding cell at Ofer military prison.  

The next morning, 13 January 2021, another hearing took place. The police asked to remand me for another week. The judge postponed the hearing for a week and asked the police to bring the settler to testify. The next day, my lawyer appealed the postponement and asked to advance the hearing date. It was decided to hold the hearing on Sunday.

In the hearing that took place on Sunday, 17 January 2021, my lawyer again demanded I be released. The judge accepted his request this time and ordered my release on 3,000 shekels bail. I don’t understand why I had to post bail when I didn’t do anything, but I posted it. The judge decided on my release at 1:00 P.M., but they only released me at 9:30 P.M. They still have my tractor, and my lawyer is taking care of its return. 

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Muntasser Hamayel (46), a married father of six and coordinator of the Kafr Malik agricultural committee, described his attempts to file a complaint with the police:

On the day of the incident, at around 4:00 P.M., I went to the Binyamin police station with two other farmers who were present at the time of the attack. We wanted to file a complaint. After we were kept waiting for more than an hour, we were told the interrogator was overworked, that he was alone today, and that he wouldn’t be able to receive us. We went home and came back the next day at 9:00 A.M., but they wouldn’t receive us again, with the same excuses.

On Tuesday, 12 January 2021, at 9:00 P.M., we came to the police for the third time after the private lawyer handling Diaa’s arrest case called ahead, and the same thing happened again. They told us the officer was very busy and sent us to file a complaint online.

After I got home, the lawyer called and asked us to return to the police station. I went back with a friend from the village and this time, an interrogator received me, and I explained what happened. While I gave my description, the interrogator watched the videos posted online. I gave him a statement for about an hour and a half and then went home. I didn’t receive any confirmation of filing the complaint.

6

Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers uproot some 150 olive seedlings

On 6 January 2021, farmer Mahmoud Muhammad (30), discovered that settlers had uprooted some 150 olive seedlings he had planted about a month before.  

Muhammad’s plot of land lies east of Jalud. The settlement outpost of Ahiya was established in the late 1990s about 200 meters away from the plot. 

EU

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of B'Tselem and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.