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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

November 2020

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Mustafa Ramadan’s car after settlers attacked it at the Huwarah Junction, 23 Nov. 2020. Photo by Mustafa Ramadan
Mustafa Ramadan’s car after settlers attacked it at the Huwarah Junction, 23 Nov. 2020. Photo by Mustafa Ramadan

Huwarah Junction, Nablus District: Settlers stop Palestinian car and violently assault passengers, then move on to nearest intersection and stone other cars

On Monday afternoon, 23 November 2020, Yusef Mar’i (25) from Tell was driving towards the Huwarah intersection on his way to Ramallah. With him were his friend Mustafa Ramadan (44) in the passenger seat and another friend in the backseat. When the car was about 500 meters from the intersection, settlers got out of three vehicles parked by the roadside, started stoning the car and tried to assault the passengers. They smashed the windshield, a headlight and the window on the driver’s side. One of the stones hit Mar’i in the shoulder.  

Mar’i managed to drive on for about 50 meters and then stopped, and Ramadan replaced him at the wheel. They continued towards the Huwarah intersection, where they saw police officers dealing with a car accident. Mar’i told the officers what had happened, and they asked paramedics there to treat Mar’I’s shoulder. Then a Red Crescent ambulance took him to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. The friend who was sitting in the backseat went with him. The police officers suggested that Mustafa Ramadan, who stayed in the car, file a complaint at the Ariel police station, but he saw no point in doing so.

Meanwhile, the assailants also arrived at the scene of the accident and started throwing stones at Palestinian cars waiting in the traffic jam. Soldiers arrived and held them back.

Ramadan went to Rafidia Hospital and joined his friends. After they were checked and given first aid, the three went home. Repairing the damaged car cost 1,200 shekels (~375 USD).

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Yusef Mar’i described the attack:

I was driving to Ramallah with two friends. When we neared the Huwarah intersection, I saw three or four cars with Israeli license plates parked on the left side of the road. When we were about 15 or 20 meters from them, a kid who looked 15 at most suddenly emerged between them with a stone in each hand. He threw the stones at our car and came round in front of it.

I was driving slowly, no more than 50 kilometers an hour, but had to stop so I wouldn’t run him over. Then, more than 15 settlers got out of the other cars and started throwing stones at us. One stone hit the windshield and cracked it, and another shattered my window and hit me in the shoulder.

I tried to reverse the car, but another settler’s car stopped behind me and four or five settlers got out. I tried to get out to defend myself, but one of the settlers slammed the door shut, grabbed me by the neck through the window and started shoving me. Other settlers tried to open the back door.

I felt dizzy. I could barely take it. They were acting like wild animals. I felt we’d fallen into a trap. They were screaming and swearing and ordered us, in Hebrew and Arabic, to get out of the car.

I barely managed to restart the car. I drove quickly and the settlers drew back a little. After driving for several hundred meters, I stopped again because I couldn’t drive anymore. I asked Mustafa to take the wheel. Meanwhile, the settlers started running towards us.

Mustafa Ramadan, a father of two from Tell, described what happened after he started driving:

I drove on for about 200 meters and when we neared the Yitzhar/Huwarah square, we saw two Israeli cars that had been in an accident. There were a police car and an ambulance there.

I drove up to them and told an officer that settlers had attacked us and that one of us was injured. He motioned us to stop and called one of the paramedics over. The paramedic tried to calm Yusef down. He was exhausted and had cramps in the left side of his body, his arm and his leg. I was worried about him. Then a Red Crescent ambulance came and took him to hospital.

Meanwhile, the settlers arrived and started throwing stones at Palestinian cars that had stopped because of the accident. They did it in front of police officers and soldiers, and hit several cars.

I stayed in the car until the settlers moved away. The officers asked my friend and me for our details and took down our account of what happened. They asked the three of us to go to the Ariel police station to file a complaint, but we didn’t because we saw no point.

I went to hospital to check on my friends, and later we all went home. A few days later, I took the car to be repaired. It cost us 1,200 shekels: the windshield, the window on the driver’s side, a headlight and paint and shield repairs where the stones left marks.

A mutilated tree in the Bazar family’s plot, Beitillu, 23 Nov. 2020. Photo by Hasan Bazar
A mutilated tree in the Bazar family’s plot, Beitillu, 23 Nov. 2020. Photo by Hasan Bazar

Beitillu, Ramallah District: Settlers cut down four 50-year-old olive trees

On the afternoon of 23 November 2020, a resident of Beitillu was on his way to his land when he noticed about five masked settlers cutting down olive trees in a plot belonging to another village farmer. The plot in question lies east of the village, and the settlement of Nahliel was established about 300 meters away from it.   

The resident phoned the landowner and the Beitillu village council to report what he had seen. About half an hour later, the landowner, Hassan Bazar (30), a father of three, arrived at the plot with several villagers. When the settlers noticed them, they fled towards Nahliel.

Bazar discovered that the settlers had managed to cut down four 50-year-old olive trees in his plot. He reported the incident to the Palestinian DCO and the next day, a representative of the Civil Administration arrived and registered his complaint.

Burin, Nablus District: Settlers falsely accuse Palestinian of stone-throwing and set out on a rampage in his plot. Soldiers do not intervene to protect the family’s property

In the early morning hours of Monday, 23 November 2020, nine members of the ‘Umran family set out to plant and sow fruit and vegetables. The adults were joined by five children, ranging in age from two to 15, and they went together to their plot that stretches about five dunams south of Burin. At around 10:00 P.M., while work was in progress, three soldiers came from the direction of the nearby military watchtower and asked the family if they had seen young men throwing stones at the road. The family members replied negatively. The soldiers stayed in the area for several minutes and then left.

About 10 minutes later, around seven settlers arrived along with the same three soldiers. The settlers, some of whom were armed with handguns, began yelling and cursing at the family. They claimed that the father, Yasser ‘Umran (39), was the one who had thrown stones at the road. The soldiers ordered the family to leave the plot, and then the settlers started scattering the seeds, uprooting seedlings, and destroying the family’s property. They also destroyed food, books, and clothes the family members had brought with them. The family was forced to move from their land to a nearby plot, where they waited for about an hour until the settlers and the soldiers left. When they returned to their plot, they discovered the extent of the destruction the settlers had left behind. At that point, a military jeep arrived and stayed in the area until the family went home at around 4:00 P.M.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Suha ‘Umran (37), a married mother of eight from Burin, recounted:

We planted fig, plum, and loquat seedlings. About a week ago, we plowed the land, and on Monday, we came there to sow beans, garlic, onion, potatoes, and strawberries. We hoped the crops would provide us with extra income because since the coronavirus started, my husband’s income from his work as a barber has really gone down.

My sister-in-law Najwa (52) and her son’ Iz a-Din came with us. We were in the middle of work, and I was about to make some tea, when three soldiers arrived from the nearby watchtower. They spoke in Hebrew with my husband, and later I understood that they’d claimed there were stone-throwers in the area, and they asked if we’d seen them. About 15 minutes later, the soldiers left, and we continued working. Ten minutes after that, the soldiers came back with seven to 10 settlers, who started yelling at us. They all wore masks, and some of them had guns in their belts. They cursed at us in Hebrew, but I understood when they said, “Son of a bitch.”

My husband, who knows Hebrew, told me later that the settlers accused him of throwing stones at the road.

My daughter Rimal (2), who I was holding, started crying and screaming out of fear, and so did my son al-‘Uqab (5) and my daughter ‘Abir (4). I tried to calm them down and told them to get away, but they didn’t want to go without me, and I didn’t want to leave my husband there alone, surrounded by settlers.

The soldiers demanded again and again that we leave. Some of the settlers started taking our belongings and throwing them all over. They also scattered some of the seeds we’d brought with us, our food and drink, and the schoolbags the children brought to do homework and study for exams. The settlers also tore the children’s schoolbooks. They even threw our mats on the road. One settler emptied our teapot on the campfire, and when I asked him why he did that, he made a throat-slitting gesture.

Meanwhile, my husband and my nephew ‘Iz a-Din argued with the settlers and refused to leave. My husband tried to explain to them that we were on our land and that we weren’t responsible for what was happening on the road. But they wouldn’t listen, and, in the end, we drew back to a neighboring plot. The settlers kept throwing and destroying everything.

We stood and watched what the settlers and the soldiers were doing on our land. After they left, we came back to the plot, and what we saw there was truly sad. Nothing was left intact. They destroyed everything. They even broke the new seedlings we’d planted. I found some of Rimal’s clothes in a nearby thorn field. The settlers also stole two hoes, a pick-ax, and a rake. We gathered what we could save and replanted the seeds. At one point, a military jeep arrived and stayed in the area until we went home, at around 4:00 P.M.

When we came home, the kids were still in shock. Adam couldn’t study for the test he had. He just kept staring at the book the settlers had torn. ‘Abir told me, “I’m afraid the soldiers will take you and put you in jail.” The incident really affected them. I even heard them talking in their sleep, and they woke up several times at night. The next day, I walked them to school and bought them new books.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Najwa ‘Umran (52), a married mother of eight from Nablus, also described the incident:

Usually, we don’t encounter any problems when we go to our land. Soldiers often arrive and ask us what we’re doing there, and we reply that we’re working our land, and they don’t do anything. What happened this time was unbelievable.

Until the soldiers and the settlers arrived, we enjoyed nature and the beautiful weather. We worked, talked, and laughed together.

I didn’t really understand what they wanted, if our presence there just bothered them or if someone had really thrown stones at them as the military claimed. We didn’t see anything like that. The area we were in was completely quiet, and traffic on the Yitzhar road flowed normally.

I got so mad when I saw the settlers destroying everything, but I held back so my son and my brother wouldn’t get upset, too. Instead, I told them, “Let them do what they want. The most important thing is that you’re safe and sound. The rest can be replaced.” I wanted to calm them down because we had no choice but to be patient. After all, the military protects the settlers and does nothing for us.

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Tel Rumeidah, central Hebron: Settler sets dog on Palestinian boy and punches him in the eye; soldier assaults father who comes to his aid

On Thursday afternoon, 17 November 2020, Taysir Abu ‘Eishah (59) and his son Haitham (13) were walking home in the Tel Rumeidah neighborhood in central Hebron. They were carrying pipes for a heating system. When father and son drew near the Tel Rumeidah Checkpoint (Gilbert), installed some 20 meters from their home, they noticed two soldiers and a settler with a dog who were sitting on a stone wall by the roadside.

As the two passed by the settler and the soldiers, the former got up and set his dog on Haitham. A physical confrontation ensued, which included kicking and shoving. In the end, the settler punched Haitham in the right eye. When Taysir Abu ‘Eishah went over and tried to pull his son away from the settler, one of the soldiers pushed him and knocked him to the road. After Abu ‘Eishah managed to get up, several soldiers arrived along with an officer, who ordered father and son to go home.

Meanwhile, a Red Crescent ambulance arrived to take a neighborhood resident to hospital, and its crew gave Haitham first aid on the spot.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash, Haitham Abu ‘Eishah described the attack:

As we passed by the checkpoint, I heard the settler’s dog run after me. I turned around and was so scared that I threw the pipes I was carrying down on the road. The settler came over to me, pushed me into the alley by the checkpoint and grabbed me by the shirt and collar. The alley is hidden from the view of the security camera on our roof.

The settler kept pushing me and then he punched me in the right eye. I tried to get away from him but couldn’t, because he was bigger than me. The two soldiers didn’t intervene and didn’t help me, and then my father came over and pulled me away from the settler.

Just then, a soldier came over to my father, pushed him hard and knocked him over. My father got up, and meanwhile, other soldiers and an officer arrived and ordered us to go home quickly. An ambulance came to our street to take my neighbor away, and one of the paramedics gave me first aid and put some ointment on my eye.

I went up to the roof with my father to install the pipes we’d brought, and then I saw the soldier who’d attacked my father playing fake boxing with the settler who’d attacked me. Then I saw the same settler block the ambulance’s path after my neighbor got into it.

Most of us in the neighborhood know that settler, because he harasses us and sets his dog on us to scare us.

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A vandalized fence in Far’ata, 16 Nov. 2020. Photo courtesy of the al-Tawil family
A vandalized fence in Far’ata, 16 Nov. 2020. Photo courtesy of the al-Tawil family

Far’ata, Qalqiliyah District: Settlers vandalize fence that farmer set up around his land

On 16 November 2020, ‘Abd al-Karam a-Tawil from the village of Far’ata discovered that settlers had vandalized a barbed wire fence he put up about a month ago to protect his sesame and legume fields. The fields stretch over two dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] east of the village.

Settlers from the outpost of Havat Gilad set up trailers on land belonging to the village of Tell, about 250 meters away from a-Tawil’s land.  

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The branches of a mutilated tree in al-Mughayir, 14 Nov. 2020. Photo by ‘Abdallah Na’asan
The branches of a mutilated tree in al-Mughayir, 14 Nov. 2020. Photo by ‘Abdallah Na’asan

Al-Mughayir, Ramallah District: Settlers cut down branches of two 30-year-old olive trees

On Saturday morning, 14 November 2020, ‘Abdallah Na’asan (50) arrived at his plot. Several workers joined him to help with the olive harvest. Na’asan’s land lies about half a kilometer northwest of al-Mughayir. The outpost of Adei Ad was established North of his land. The Israeli military does not require Na’asan to coordinate access to his land.

When Na’asan and his workers arrived at the grove, they discovered that settlers had cut down the branches of two 30-year-old olive trees. The farmers harvested the rest of the trees and returned home a few hours later.

That afternoon, Na’asan called the Israeli DCO and reported the damage. He was told that a DCO representative would meet him in the grove at 7:00 P.M. Na’asan came to the grove with his family, but the DCO representative did not show up for the scheduled meeting.

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Damaged water containers in Nidal Rab’i’s plot, Turmusaya, 9 Nov. 2020. Photo by Firas ‘Alami
Damaged water containers in Nidal Rab’i’s plot, Turmusaya, 9 Nov. 2020. Photo by Firas ‘Alami

Turmusaya, Ramallah District: Settlers destroy equipment and steal generator, work tools, water containers and faucets

On Monday, 9 November 2020, late at night, settlers invaded two privately-owned plots east of the village of Turmusaya, destroyed some farming equipment and stole other parts.  

The settlers first invaded the plot of Nidal Rabi’ (68), a father of three. They stole two large water containers and 14 faucets, and destroyed water pipes about 100 meters long. The damage is estimated at 5,000 shekels (~1,555 USD).

They then invaded the plot of Rajeh Jbarah (55), a father of ten. There, they stole a generator, a chainsaw, two vertical band saws, a circular saw and work tools – hammers, chisels and screws. They also broke ten window boxes and five light fixtures and sprayed a Star of David on the fence, as well as graffiti reading “Israel is alive and will never die.” The damage was estimated at thousands of shekels.

The landowners discovered the theft and vandalism the same night and reported it to the Israeli DCO and the Israel Police, who sent representatives the next day to collect statements and assess the damage. During the day, the police summoned the farmers to give statements at the Binyamin police station. Although they went to the station and gave their accounts, they have not heard anything about the investigation since.

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Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers steal sacks of olives and farming equipment from a grove

Hussein ‘Odeh (54), a father of six, owns an olive grove southeast of Huwarah, that is located between Road 60 and the army base, which is located about a kilometer from the road. On Friday morning, 6 November 2020, a farmer who was working on ‘Odeh’s land called him and told him that settlers had stolen the olive sacks and equipment left in the grove the day before - two ladders, 5 or 6 tarpaulin sheets, a small camping stove, and cups for coffee and tea.

About 120 20-year-old trees grow in ‘Odeh’s family grove. The Israeli military allows him access to it only during the plowing and harvest seasons. This year, the military gave ‘Odeh three days to harvest, from 3 to 6 November 2020. When he came to his plot on the last day of harvest, he discovered ATV tire tracks. About 100 kg of olives harvested the days before were stolen. ‘Odeh estimates that the oil extracted from the stolen olive was expected to sell for about 1,000 NIS (~305 USD). He reported the theft to the Huwarah municipality.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Hussein spoke about the theft of his crop and farming equipment by settlers:

On the harvest days, I tend to come to the land several times a day to oversee a few residents who work in my plot. At the end of the day, I check the crop and then take the harvested olives and leave the ladders and other equipment in the grove for the next harvest day. The farmers usually leave the equipment in the grove during the harvest because there’s no point in taking everything home each day and then bringing it back in the morning. It takes up time and effort.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I took the crop home with me. But on Thursday, I couldn’t come to the grove, so the harvested crop stayed there along with the equipment: two ladders, 5 or 6 tarpaulin sheets, a small camping stove, and cups for coffee and tea. The next day, Friday, 6 November 2020, was supposed to be the last harvest day in the plot, but when my worker got there in the morning, he discovered the theft. I drove over there immediately and saw ATV tire tracks all over the plot – it looked like someone had driven around there with an ATV going back and forth. This is the first time something like this has happened to me since I bought this plot 11 years ago. We had to buy new ladders and tarpaulin sheets to finish the olive harvest.

There’s a military base close to the plot, so no one but the settlers could have done something like this. The military lets the settlers do whatever they want. During the harvest, I came across a military jeep that was standing near the plot. The soldiers asked me what I was doing there, and I told them I was the landowner and I was working it. It repeated itself about four times until they got used to seeing me there.

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One of the settlers who stoned homes in Burqah, 3 Nov. 2020. Photo by Sadam Salah.
One of the settlers who stoned homes in Burqah, 3 Nov. 2020. Photo by Sadam Salah.

Burqah, Nablus District: Settlers stone homes and vehicles on the outskirts of the village

On Friday afternoon, 3 November 2020, about 20 settlers arrived at the western entrance of the village of Burqah. The settlers stopped their vehicles — a minibus and two cars — and began throwing stones, hitting a truck, two cars, and three homes (one of which is under construction). In the first home, the settlers broke two windows, and in the second home, they broke a security camera. In the third home, they damaged a wall. A few minutes later, the settlers stopped throwing stones, got back in their vehicles, and drove towards the settlement of Homesh (which was evacuated in 2005). After news of the attack spread in the village, residents went towards Homesh to protest the incident and tried to block the settlement entrance.

About 15 minutes later, some 30 settlers left Homesh, and when they saw the blockage, they began throwing stones at residents who were still in the area. Soldiers and Border Police officers arrived at the scene in seven jeeps, drove out the residents, and opened the road to traffic.

One of the homes attacked by the settlers is located in the north-western section of the town, less than 100 meters from Route 60, and belongs to Shadyah and Sami Dasuqi. The couple has five children, ranging in age from 7 months to 11 years.

In her testimony, Shadyah Dasuqi (31) described to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i what happened to her and her children when their home was attacked:

At around 2:30 P.M., I was tidying up the closets in my room, and the children were watching TV in the living room. I heard noises from the outside, and when I looked out the window, I saw a large, seven-seat vehicle with Israeli license plates and a driver with side curls behind the wheel. I immediately phoned my husband, who was in Huwarah at the time, and asked him to come quickly. We didn’t manage to speak much, and then I heard stones hitting and breaking the bedroom and living room windows. I immediately called my kids and told them to stay in the hallway. I got very stressed because I have a seven-month-old baby, and my eldest daughter Shahd (11) is disabled and can’t walk by herself. We were terrified, and I didn’t know how to protect the kids because they’re all small. I started crying, and so did the kids. I phoned my husband, and he said that his mother and brothers were on their way to us. About five minutes later, everything calmed down, and the hail of stones stopped.

This is the first time our house has been attacked. We lived in the village center before, and we moved here in October because we wanted some peace and privacy.

I know the settlers also attacked our neighbor Fadi Masoud’s home, who lives about 100 meters away. They broke his security camera and attacked another home under construction.

Since the attack, my kids get frightened by every noise, and each time they ask me if it’s the settlers. Jamal (8) told me he wants to go back to the old house and that he doesn’t like this house anymore.

A livestock pen set up on the ‘Alan family’s land in ‘Einabus, 3 Nov. 2020. Photo by the ‘Alan family.
A livestock pen set up on the ‘Alan family’s land in ‘Einabus, 3 Nov. 2020. Photo by the ‘Alan family.

‘Einabus, Nablus District: Settlers damage some 25 trees and build sheep pen in olive grove

On 3 November 2020, Nasrallah ‘Alan (72), a father of ten, discovered that settlers had cut the branches of about 25 out of 45 olive trees in his grove, which lies about 800 meters south of the village. Worse still, they built a livestock pen made of iron mesh-screen and housed two goats and two geese in it. ‘Alan called his son Muhammad (34), who came to the grove and helped his father dismantle the pen and trim the trees that were damaged, so their branches can regrow.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Nasrallah‘ Alan described the damage to his olive trees and the settler’s gradual attempts to take over his land:

When I came to my grove, I was surprised to find out that settlers had cut down the branches of about 25 olive trees. They didn’t stop at that and also set up a livestock enclosure with an iron net and put two goats and a pair of geese in it, as if it were their land. They don’t consider anyone and don’t listen to anyone. It looks like preparation to take over the land – today, they set up an enclosure, and next, they’ll set up tents and shacks there. That’s what I’m afraid of.  

What happened to the trees really saddens me. When you plant a tree and tend to it, it becomes like one of your children, and it makes you sad when it gets harmed. It goes against the religious rules in all religions, even in the Torah, so I don’t understand why they treat trees that way. They’re godless!

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Jihad Jazi, who was injured severely while feeling from settlers who attacked him. a-Sawiyah, 1 Nov. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem
Jihad Jazi, who was injured severely while feeling from settlers who attacked him. a-Sawiyah, 1 Nov. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem

A-Sawiyah, Nablus District: Settlers stone couple harvesting their land and the husband stumbles while fleeing, severely injuring his head and arms

On Sunday afternoon, 1 November 2020, Jihad and Nidaa Jazi (both 47), who have nine children, arrived at their olive grove. The plot, which stretches over a dunam and a half and has 26 mature olive trees, is located to the east of a-Sawiyah village, between Road 60 and the Eli settlement’s security barrier.

A security fence was built around the Eli settlement, established in 1984, about 700 meters from the plot. The Israeli military has never required the family to coordinate visits to their land.

At around 3:00 P.M., while Jihad and Nidaa were picking their olives, some five settlers suddenly appeared, one bearing a wooden club, and started throwing stones  at the couple. Jihad called out to Nidaa to run away and took a moment to pick up the sack they had only managed to fill halfway. He grabbed the sack and started running, but stumbled on some stones and fell, severely injuring his head and hands, and blacked out. When the settlers saw him fall, they drew back towards Eli. Nidaa heard her husband cry out and came back to help him.

Nidaa Jazi splashed water over her husband's face and when he came to, helped him to their car, which was parked about 600 meters away. Jihad Jazi’s hands were severely damaged and he barely managed to drive home, pressing on the pedals while his wife steered the car. When they got home, family members took him to a hospital in Salfit. After he was examined and X-rayed, he was transferred to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where the doctors treated his head wound and operated on his hands due to the severity of the fractures.

In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb'i, Jihad Jazi recounted being injured as he and his wife fled from the settlers:

We were working, at around 3:00 P.M., when stones suddenly landed near us. I looked behind me and saw about four or five young settlers, about 18 to 20 years old, throwing stones at us. One of them also had a wooden club.

I yelled to my wife to run away. I picked up the sack of the olives we'd managed to pick, which was half full, and saw the setter with the club running towards me. As soon as I started running, I came across a stone wall and had no choice but to jump over it. I jumped and fell with my hands stretched out in front of me, to protect my body. I felt a sharp pain pierce my head and passed out.

When I woke up, my wife was splashing water on my face. I tried to get up but couldn't. I looked at my hands and immediately realized I’d broken them. The bone was showing under the skin. My face was bleeding, too. I tried to put my hands to my face to wipe off the blood, but I couldn't. My head was aching badly. I looked towards the settlement and saw the settlers heading in that direction.

In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb'i, Nidaa Jazi described her husband's injury and its repercussions:

I started running quickly and thought my husband was running behind me. Suddenly, I heard him yelling and calling out for me. I looked back and saw him lying on the ground. I ran over, shaking with fear. He was about 30 meters away. When I reached him, I saw he was lying on the ground with his face covered in blood. I started screaming and crying. I didn't know what to do. We were far from the village and I felt helpless. My husband was unconscious. I splashed water from a bottle on his face and he woke up.

His hands were wrecked. The bones were sticking out in both of them. All I cared about was getting him away from there, before the settlers decided to come back to us. I helped my husband stand up, but when we got to the car there was a problem – his hands were broken, and I don't know how to drive. Our phones weren't working, so we couldn't call for help.

My husband sat behind the wheel and I sat next to him. He pushed the gas and brakes while I took the steering wheel. I look at him and saw he was in severe pain because of his hands. I held the wheel and cried. I had no way to relieve his pain. He's my husband and soulmate, the father of my children, the only breadwinner of our family, and he's all we've got.

Miraculously, we managed to drive home. Our children came outside to meet us and when they saw their father, they all started crying, even my older boys. They couldn't bear to see him like that. I called my husband's brothers and they drove us to hospital, where it turned out my husband needed surgery on his hands, to set his bones with screws and platinum plates.

I'm afraid my husband won't be able to go back to work the way he used to, because of the severe damage to his hands. I had a car accident and to this day can’t run or walk like I used to.

Even though my husband wasn’t hit by a stone, he was injured by the settlers’ attack. We had no choice but to run. Even if we'd tried to protect ourselves by throwing stones back at them, we'd be blamed for it. We never thought something like this could happen on our land. We go to the plot several times a year during the plowing, pruning, and harvest seasons, and nothing like this has ever happened to us.

The Eli settlement was founded in the year 1984, some 700 meters from the houses of a-Sawiyah.

October 2020

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The Musa family’s grove, Ramallah District, 26 Oct. 2020. Photo by Jibril Sadiq
The Musa family’s grove, Ramallah District, 26 Oct. 2020. Photo by Jibril Sadiq

Ramallah District: Settlers plow soil in olive grove, uproot fruit-bearing trees and steal 10

The Musa family from Qaryut owns several dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 square meters] of farmland south of their village and east of Turmusaya, in Ramallah District. The settlement outposts of Adei Ad and Esh Kodesh were established on land belonging to area villages on either side of Qaryut and Turmusaya. Due to the proximity to the outposts, the military permits the family access to the land only during the plowing and harvest seasons.    

This year, the military permitted the family to harvest their land from 26 October to 5 November 2020. However, when they arrived on the first day, they discovered that settlers had plowed a dunam of soil in their grove, uprooted 20 olive trees that were 50 years old and stolen 10 of them.

The farmers estimated that the trees had been uprooted about two months earlier, under cover of the military ban on the family’s access to the land most of the year. A mature olive tree can yield about 15 liters of oil a year, selling at 500 to 700 shekels (~152-215 USD) in the market. This means an annual loss of more than 10,000 shekels (~3,055 USD) from the uprooted trees.

A mutilated tree in al-Mughayir, 26 Oct. 2020. Photo by Ashraf Id’ebis
A mutilated tree in al-Mughayir, 26 Oct. 2020. Photo by Ashraf Id’ebis

Al-Mughayir and Turmusaya, Ramallah District: Settlers cut down more than 100 mature olive trees

On Monday morning, 26 October 2020, farmers from the villages of al-Mughayir and Turmusaya went to their land to harvest olives. Given past experience in these areas, soldiers escorted them. As the nearby outpost of Adei Ad was established on village land in 1998, the harvest required coordination. The Israeli DCO permitted the farmers to enter their land from 26 October to 5 November 2020.

When they reached the plot, two of the farmers – Said Abu 'Alia from al-Mughayir and Rabah Hizma from Turmusaya – discovered that settlers had cut down more than 100 of their olive trees, which were about 40 years old.  

The two farmers went to the Binyamin police station that day and filed a complaint.

Since 2018, B'Tselem has documented four cases of settlers cutting down trees, damaging farming equipment and stealing olives from the Hizma family's land, as well as several incidents in which settlers damaged trees and land belonging to the Abu' Alia family.

 

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‘Abd al-Basset Ahmad who was wounded during the attack on his home, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 24 Oct. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem.
‘Abd al-Basset Ahmad who was wounded during the attack on his home, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 24 Oct. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem.

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Some 20 settlers stone Palestinian family’s home, injuring father

On Saturday, 24 October 2020, ‘Abed al-Basset and Maysaa’ Ahmad (both 52) were at home with three of their six children and a grandson. At around 3:30 P.M., a village resident called to say he had noticed settlers approaching their home. ‘Abed al-Basset went outside and saw some 20 settlers drawing near. He tried to stop them from reaching his home, and in response, they starting throwing stones at him. One of the stones hit him in the head and he started bleeding.

About an hour later, soldiers arrived in a military jeep and threw stun grenades at residents who had gathered to defend the house. The settlers moved about 100 meters away, and several soldiers kept them at bay. The other soldiers stayed by the house. About a half hour later, the soldiers and the settlers left.

‘Abed al-Basset went to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where his head was bandaged and he was discharged. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a Deb’i on 25 October 2020, he spoke about the attack:

I was at home with my wife and three of our kids – Muhammad, Anis and Bisan – and our grandson Sham. I make sure not to go to work on Saturdays because that’s when settlers tend to attack our homes. At around 3:30 P.M., a village resident called and told me that a group of settlers was making its way towards our house from the east.

I immediately went up to the roof and saw about 20 masked settlers behind the neighboring house, which belongs to my son Rafiq. I climbed back down and asked my wife to close all the doors and windows. Then I went outside to shout at the settlers to leave, because I was afraid they’d come inside.

The settlers were about three meters away and the minute they saw me, they started throwing stones at me. I tried to hide behind a fence and picked up a stick to try and scare them away, but they kept throwing stones at me.  

I heard my wife screaming and calling for help, but I knew that our neighbors were out harvesting and that if anyone was home, it was probably women and children.

The settlers threw a lot of stones at me, which hit me in the legs, shoulders and arms. A stone hit my head and I heard one of them say: “Blood!” I said nothing was wrong, but then I suddenly saw a lot of blood dripping. Just then, some village residents arrived and the settlers backed away a bit and kept on throwing stones at us. About an hour later, a military jeep arrived from the direction of Yitzhar. The soldiers came towards us, threw about four stun grenades at us and fired several shots in the air. One of them said he was an officer and didn’t want any trouble. He said the police were on the way.

Things calmed down a bit and I told the residents that the police would come and we’d file a complaint. The settlers moved about 100 meters away and six soldiers went along and kept them from reaching us. The other soldiers stayed next to us, to keep us away from the settlers.

About an hour after the incident, the head of the village council took me to hospital, where they stitched up my wound and discharged me. When I got home, I found out that the police had never arrived and that the soldiers had stayed until nightfall and left.

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Muhammad Ziben, who was attacked by settlers while working his family’s plot, Burin, 23 Oct. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem.
Muhammad Ziben, who was attacked by settlers while working his family’s plot, Burin, 23 Oct. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem.

Burin, Nablus District: Settlers stone family harvesting olives and injure member

On Friday, 23 October 2020, at around midday, members of the Ziben family were harvesting olives in their grove south of the village. Suddenly, seven settlers appeared, surrounded the family and started throwing stones at them.

Brothers Imad (58) and Bashir (64) Ziben took refuge behind an olive tree, while three of their relatives shouted at the settlers and tried to make them leave. The women of the family, who were picking olives about 20 meters away, alerted residents who were working in nearby plots.

At that point, about 20 more settlers arrived, some of them wearing masks and carrying wooden sticks and iron bars. The settlers continued throwing stones at the family, and one stone hit Muhammad Ziben (32) in the head. He was evacuated and given treatment. He later returned to the grove on horseback, at the sight of which the settlers became frightened and left.

After the incident, Muhammad Ziben felt dizzy and was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where doctors found a laceration in his scalp and bleeding in his ear. He was transferred to al-Istishari Hospital in Ramallah, where he was held for observation and discharged two days later.

In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb'i, Muhammad's father, ‘Imad Ziben (58), a father of four and unemployed metalworker, described the attack:  

On Friday morning, 23 October 2020, at around 7:30 A.M., I went with my wife Dalal (54), our children Muhammad (32) and Musa (28), my sister Kifah (53), my brother Bashir (64) and his wife Basma (56) and their son Ahmad (34) to our plot, which is on the southern side of the village. The area is called Khallet al-Ghul. The settlement of Yitzhar was built about a kilometer away from our plot, on land belonging to our village and to neighboring villages.

We own four dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] of land with almost 100 olive trees, 15 almond trees and two grapevines. My grandfather, may God rest his soul, planted all of them and they're large and bear fruit.

I love my land and work it a lot. I don't need coordination to enter it. I work it all year round, including the almond and grape seasons.

I'm very attached to our land and always harvest it with my family, even though I have back problems and can't really pick the fruit. I love being there with my family and want to protect the land from settlers.

After we got there, I sat down and watched the others. At around 12:30 P.M., stones suddenly started flying at us. One of them passed right by my head. I heard my sons yelling. Settlers appeared from behind the trees on the eastern side of the grove. They snuck up on us before we noticed. There were about seven of them and they were wearing masks. They stood on a spot a bit above us, about four meters away, and threw stones at us.

I tried to hide behind a tree with my brother Bashir, who was next to me.

Our sons tried to protect us and fend off the settlers. The women of the family, who were working about 20 meters from us and hadn’t been injured, alerted people from the village who were working in a nearby plot. Meanwhile, another group of about 25 settlers arrived and surrounded us. I saw that some of them were holding wooden sticks and iron bars.

My son Muhammad was hit in the head by a stone and fell down. His brother Musa took him away, and my other sons tried to protect us by throwing stones back at the settlers. The settlers kept on throwing stones at us.

In the end, Muhammad came back riding a horse and drove the settlers out. Meanwhile, several people arrived from the village. Later Muhammad felt dizzy, so I took him to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus.

At the hospital, they X-rayed him. It turned out that he had a tear in his scalp and bleeding in his ear. They transferred him to al-Istishari Hospital in Ramallah because they thought he'd need surgery. In the end, they decided it wasn't necessary because his situation had stabilized and he felt better. He was discharged on 25 October 2020.

The settlement of Yitzhar was established about a kilometer from the Ziben family's plot.

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Iron rods placed by settlers at Shaher Hazem’s plot, which punctured his tractor tires. Qaryut, 22 Oct. 2020. Photo by Shaher Hazem
Iron rods placed by settlers at Shaher Hazem’s plot, which punctured his tractor tires. Qaryut, 22 Oct. 2020. Photo by Shaher Hazem

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settler harvests olives and cuts down five trees in the Hazem family’s plot. Police refuse to investigate the claims

On 22 October 2020, at around 8:00 A.M., Shaher (52) and Rihab (45) Hazem, parents of seven, arrived at their olive grove. Their son Ahmad (13) joined them to harvest olives on one of the last harvest days the Israeli DCO had coordinated for them. The family’s plot, which stretches over eight dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters], lies about two kilometers west of the village homes and about 500 meters away from the settlement of Eli.

Eli was established in 1984 on land belonging to the villages of Qaryut and a-Sawiyah.

When the family arrived at the grove, Hazem drove around in his tractor and discovered that settlers had already harvested most of the trees and cut down five of them. During the drive, the tractor went over some long screws which the settlers had apparently left in the field. Three of its tires were punctured.

At that point, a settler arrived from the direction of Eli and told Hazem that he had harvested the trees and had left the family 15 trees to harvest.
 
Hazem called the village council and reported the incident. Council representatives contacted the Israel Police, and at around 12:30 P.M., officers arrived at the grove. The settler, who had been roaming around the grove while the family collected fallen olives lying around the trees, disappeared. Hazem told the officers what the settler had said, but they replied that they could not do anything without evidence and left the area.

As the officers moved away, the settler returned to the plot and implicitly threatened to burn Hazem’s tractor if he left it in the grove and went to get help to fix it. A few minutes later, the family left in the flat-tired tractor, taking with them the 12 kg of olives they had managed to collect.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Shaher Hazem described the encounter with the settler and the indifference of the police:

I drove around the grove with my tractor to check it out. There weren’t many olives, and on some trees, there weren’t any at all, so I understood that someone must’ve harvested them. About five olive trees had been cut down. While driving, the tractor went over some sharp metal pieces, causing a flat tire. I was really worried because we were far from the village. I turned around and then the tractor went over two more metal pieces, and two more tires went flat. I was furious and didn’t know what to do. I’m sure someone put them there on purpose. There’s no way this happened by chance.

Meanwhile, a settler suddenly arrived from the direction of Eli. He was all smiles. We know him because he’s been wandering around residents’ land for years, reaching the village homes and causing problems. He wants to take over our land. When he came near, he told me in Hebrew that he’d harvested the trees and only left me 15. I got mad and asked him why he didn’t just go ahead and harvest everything. I told him I’d call the police and report the theft, the chopped up trees and the metal pieces left on the ground. He laughed and didn’t answer.

I called the village council and told them what had happened, and they said they’d call the Israel Police. I thought the police would collect a statement and punish the offender. Meanwhile, we collected what was left of the olives under the trees. We only collected about 10 to 12 kg. These are large trees that yield a lot of fruit, but the settler barely left anything. He kept wandering around the area and following me.
 
The officers arrived, and the first thing they asked was if I had any documentation or proof. I said that I didn’t and that I can only come to my land on coordinated days. The officer replied that they couldn’t do anything. I told him, “The settler himself told me that he’d harvested the trees. So how come you can’t?” The officer said that was just talk and that they couldn’t do anything without evidence. Then they left.

The settler, who disappeared when the officers arrived, came back after they left. I told him I was going to get someone to help me fix the tires, and then he asked, “You’re leaving the tractor here?” I answered that I was, and then he said, “If someone burns it, that would be bad for you!” I realized he was threatening to burn it and understood that I had no choice but to drive it with the punctured tires.

When we came back to the village, it turned out that the tractor’s rims had been damaged from driving on the punctured tires, and I need to change them, too, but I don’t have the money to do that.

A mutilated tree in Kafr Qadum, 22 Oct. 2020. Photo by Salah a-Din Shteiwi
A mutilated tree in Kafr Qadum, 22 Oct. 2020. Photo by Salah a-Din Shteiwi

Kafr Qadum, Qalqiliyah District: Settlers harvest 17 trees and steal the crop

On Thursday, 22 October 2020, village resident Salah a-Din Shteiwi (44) went to his plot, which over time has been encroached upon by the settlement of Kedumim. He discovered that settlers had harvested and stolen olives from 17 of his trees and even cut down one of the trees.

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Deir al-Hatab, Nablus District: Settlers harvest some 60 olive mature trees and allow herd to damage branches

On Wednesday morning, 21 October 2020, members of the Hussein family went to their plot, which lies on the eastern side of Deir al-Hatab, about three kilometers from the homes on the outskirts of the village. The family was shocked to discover that settlers had harvested some 60 ancient olive trees and that some of the branches had been chewed by livestock.

An olive tree harvested by settlers in Kafr Qadum, 18 Oct. 2020. Photo by Qusai Qadumi
An olive tree harvested by settlers in Kafr Qadum, 18 Oct. 2020. Photo by Qusai Qadumi

Kafr Qadum, Qalqiliyah District: Settlers harvest dozens of trees and steal the fruit

On Wednesday, 21 October 2020, the Civil Administration allowed farmers from the village to access their land, which lies within the area taken over by the settlement of Kedumim.

The permit was given for three consecutive days.

That morning, Qusai Qadumi (34) went to his plot, which lies within the settlement, and discovered that settlers had harvested and stolen the olives off about 70 trees.

Qadumi owns about 17 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] of land, on which he grows some 200 olive trees.

A destroyed chain link fence in a-Sawiyah, 21 Oct. 2020. Photo by village council.
A destroyed chain link fence in a-Sawiyah, 21 Oct. 2020. Photo by village council.

A-Sawiyah, Nablus District: Settlers destroy chain-link fence on resident’s land

On Wednesday morning, 21 October 2020, Ahmad Nafe’a (32) from a-Sawiyah discovered that settlers had destroyed the chain-link fence he had put up around his olive grove that week. The fence was supposed to protect the plot from incursions, after settlers damaged 30 of his olive trees on 17 September 2020.

The plot lies about a kilometer from the homes on the western edge of the village, and about a kilometer from the settlement of Nofei Nehemia. The settlement of Rehelim was established in 1991 about a kilometer from the plot.

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