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From the field

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

June 2020

Uprooted trees in the Sultan family's plot. Haris, 25 June 2020. Photo: courtesy of the family
Uprooted trees in the Sultan family's plot. Haris, 25 June 2020. Photo: courtesy of the family

Haris, Salfit District: Settlers uproot almost 150 olive trees and bury them in the ground. Amjad Sultan: “We’re exhausted from the effort to hold on to our land”

The damage was discovered on Monday. Two residents of Haris, brothers Ihab (40) and Amjad (46) Sultan, went to their farmland in the Khallet Abu al-'Ula area and found that almost 150 of their olive trees had vanished.

The brothers’ olive grove stretches across 42 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters]. Apart from the 10-year-old trees that disappeared, they have another 300 trees that are 40 years old. The plot lies on the western side of the town, just by the main road (Route 505).

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Amjad Sultan described the incident:

My brother informed me there were trees missing, and I rushed to our land. I couldn’t understand how 150  olive trees that had been there for 10 years could suddenly disappear! Our grove has about 300 olive trees that my father, God rest his soul, planted in 1980. Ten years ago, we planted another 150. We go there almost every day to tend to the trees.

We looked for the trees and found them buried in the ground.

I called the Israel Police and officers arrived after half an hour. They said the grove was visibly damaged. A Civil Administration official who came with police officers and soldiers told me to contact the Palestinian DCO. It was clear that they didn’t want to handle the case.

We're exhausted from the effort to hold on to our land and work it – because we’ve been struggling for 10 years. In the first three years after you plant the trees, you need to water them a lot. We would bring the water with us by car. We worked hard so the grove would flourish.

Every time, the settlement guard from Revava would arrive and demand our permit to be on our land. We ignored him, but sometimes the settlers would come and steal the barrels protecting the trees. When we demanded that they give them back, they sometimes did. We never imagined they would go this far, uprooting our trees and burying them.

Muhammad Ka'abneh after settler assault. Wadi al-Qalt, 21 June 2020. Photo: 'Amer 'Aruri, B’Tselem
Muhammad Ka'abneh after settler assault. Wadi al-Qalt, 21 June 2020. Photo: 'Amer 'Aruri, B’Tselem

Wadi al-Qalt, east of Jerusalem: Settlers invade 'Arab al-Ka’abneh community, one beats resident with metal rod

On 21 June 2020, towards evening, about five settlers arrived at the community of 'Arab al-Ka’abneh in Wadi al-Qalt. They came from the direction of a settlement outpost they established two years ago about 500 meters from the community. The settlers began wandering among the tents on the pretext they were looking for a shepherd who had attacked one of them.

While an argument ensued with the residents, another settler arrived on foot from the main road nearby. The settler began hitting the residents' sheep with a metal rod he was holding. When Muhammad Ka’abneh (48) approached him, the settler hit him on the head and fled with the rest of the group.

Residents took Ka’abneh to the main road and signaled a military jeep that was passing by. The soldiers called the Israel Police and ordered an Israeli ambulance. After Ka’abneh refused to get in to it, they called for a Red Crescent ambulance. Ka’abneh was taken to the governmental hospital in Jericho.


Burin, Nablus District: Settlers torched trees and threw stones at house under construction. Soldiers fired tear gas and "rubber" bullets and impeded efforts to extinguish the fire

On Thursday afternoon, 18 June 2020, Palestinian youths set fire to a field of thorns that lies between the eastern neighborhood of the village of Burin and the settlement outpost of Sneh Ya’akov (Giv’at Ronen). The settlers arrived to extinguish the fire and an argument ensued between them and the youths. The outpost was established about a kilometer from Burin in 1999.

Later that day, at about 4:00 P.M., some ten masked settlers arrived at the northeastern neighborhood of the village. They began to throw stones at a house under construction, broke its water pipes and set fire to olive and almond groves nearby. Residents came out to defend their houses and land, and a confrontation ensued. Shortly after, about ten soldiers arrived and began firing tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at the residents. They also prevented some residents from going to their land to put out the fire. A Palestinian Civil Defense fire truck could not reach the groves due to the clashes.

At dusk, after the incident was over, the firefighters reached the farmland and helped the residents put out the fire.

Village resident Bashir Zein (64), who owns one of the torched groves, heard about the arson from his son. In a testimony he gave the day after the incident to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, he related:

Our family has 25 dunams in the area, five of which I inherited from my grandfather. There are 40 olive and almond trees on our plot, which is fenced in by sabra bushes in every direction. When they told me my trees were on fire, I came right away. But the soldiers wouldn’t let me near and keep telling me “Go back! Go back!”. I tried to explain that I only wanted to put out the fire, but they insisted and wouldn’t let me near.

I saw about ten settlers go over to a house under construction right next to my plot, and start breaking the brick walls. The soldiers let them do it and didn’t intervene. Every time residents of the neighborhood approached the settlers, the soldiers fired rubber bullets at them. This went on until sundown, and then the settlers headed towards the outpost of Giv’at Ronen.

Out of about 40 trees on my plot, there are only 16 left. In my father’s plot, about 50 almond and olive trees burned down and only one remains. My son Khaled and I tried to put out the fire that was still burning in the branches of some trees. 

'Ein Samia, 15 June 2020: Fighting a fire started by settlers. Photo: Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem
'Ein Samia, 15 June 2020: Fighting a fire started by settlers. Photo: Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem

‘Ein Samia, Ramallah District: Settlers torch fields, Israeli security forces and firefighters stand by and let dozens of fields burn down

Why did Israeli security forces and firefighters stand by and leave the Palestinian victims to put out the fires alone? Why did they prevent Palestinian firefighters from helping? That is what state-backed settler violence looks like.

The incident took place on 15 June 2020. Six farmers from the village of Kafr Malik were working their land near the ‘Ein Samia junction when they noticed a jeep drive along the road and stop several times. Every time, one or two settlers got out and set fire to Palestinian fields. The farmers shouted at them and the settlers quickly fled towards Kochav Hashachar (a settlement established about three kilometers from ‘Ein Samia’s land in 1977).

The farmers called residents from the village and from the neighboring village of ‘Ein Samia, and dozens came to help put out the fires.   

Israeli soldiers, Border Police and police officers arrived about ten minutes after the villagers. Instead of helping put out the fast-spreading flames, they stood by and watched from afar. Two Israeli firefighter crews summoned from nearby settlements did not intervene, either, despite repeated requests by the Palestinians.

A few minutes later, a Palestinian Civil Defence firetruck arrived. As the farmland lies in Area C, the Palestinian firefighters could not enter the area without Israeli permission. Yet as the Palestinian Authority has stopped its security coordination with Israel, they could not request permission. They hoped the soldiers would let them through, but the security forces stopped the firetruck and after a two-hour wait, the crew gave up and left.

The residents had to fight the fire alone with small containers of water, wet blankets and tree leaves. It took them until 6:30 P.M. to quench the flames. By then, the fire had decimated some 100 dunams of land [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters], about half of them cultivated fields and land used for pasture, barley crops and vicia (cattle fodder). The fire caused substantial damage to local farmers and shepherds, who now have to buy fodder for their livestock.

Diaa’ Rustum (33), a married father of three and a farmer from Kafr Malik, told B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad about the arson:

On the day of the incident, I was working as a hired hand at a za'atar (hyssop) plot. We started working at about 4:00 P.M., when I saw a white jeep with Israeli license plates stop at the ‘Ein Samia junction about 300 meters away. A man got out and crouched next to a dry field by the roadside. Just then, a Palestinian car drove out of a nearby dirt road and scared the man. He got back into the jeep and drove towards the settlement of Kochav Hashachar.

Settlers often set fire to our fields during the harvest season, but after that attempt we went back to work and kept on plowing the soil. At about 4:15 P.M., we saw a white car that looked like the same jeep driving slowly towards us, and I noticed a fire raging in the fields by the roadside behind it. We started shouting, ran over there and called the fire department. Suddenly, the jeep stopped again, about half a kilometer from the fire, and the settler got out and lit some dry weeds by the road.

He saw us shouting for help and within seconds, jumped back into the car and headed south. He stopped about half a kilometer away and lit another field, and then drove off towards the settlement. We couldn’t run after him or even film him because we were too busy putting out the fire. It spread quickly. We used everything we could lay our hands on: bits of rubber, branches and thorns.

Meanwhile, a call went out from the loudspeakers of the mosque in Kafr Malik for people to come and help put out the fire, and dozens of people showed up.  

Khaled Ghneimat (42), a married father of six and farmer from Kafr Malik, spoke with B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad and described the security forces’ conduct and the damage the arson caused his family:

The military and the Israeli police showed up early on, but they didn’t do a thing. Israeli firetrucks also arrived, but their crews didn’t help at all. They were only on standby in case the fire spread towards the settlements. A Palestinian Civil Defense firetruck from the village of a-Taybeh also came, but its crew couldn’t enter the area because they couldn’t get permission. They waited a long time and finally gave up and left.

According to estimates, more than 100 dunams of land burnt down at the three sites of the torching. Most of it was wild plants we used to graze flocks. This will force us to buy large amounts of fodder for thousands of shekels.

Musa Bani Maniyah against the background of the solar panels smashed by settlers. Al-Fajam, 15 June 2020. Photo: Salma a-Deb'i, B’Tselem
Musa Bani Maniyah against the background of the solar panels smashed by settlers. Al-Fajam, 15 June 2020. Photo: Salma a-Deb'i, B’Tselem

The al-Fajam (‘Aqraba) community, Nablus District: Dozens of settlers raid Palestinian tent compound, utterly destroying it

There were two witnesses to the incident that took place on Monday morning, 15 June 2020: Musa (22) and Islam (18) Bani Maniyah. The brothers were grazing their flock in eastern al-Fajam when they noticed four civilian vehicles, coming from the direction of the settlement of Itamar, turn off onto the road leading to their community. From about 500 meters away, Musa and Islam watched the vehicles stop in front of their family's tents. They saw some 20 settlers get out and go on a calculated rampage. First, the settlers smashed the community’s solar system, which consisted of four solar panels and a circuit breaker panel provided by the Palestinian Authority. Then they vandalized a parked car. Then they entered the tents and destroyed all of their contents, including a refrigerator, bedding, kitchen utensils and sheeting. Finally, they stole several tents and left.

The Bani Maniyah family earn a living from herding and live in the area for most of the year, along with five other families. In summer, they relocate to ‘Aqraba and a few members stay behind to watch the flock.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Musa Bani Maniyah described the settlers’ rampage:

When I reached our tents, I  saw they were in a terrible state. The settlers had vandalized the tents themselves and everything inside them – bedding, clothes, utensils, mattresses, everything.  They smashed the refrigerator. I don’t know what they used, maybe iron pipes or clubs. They stole mattresses from my brother Yusef’s tent, as well as the winter bedding. They also vandalized my brother’s car, which was parked by his tent. We only use it for driving to the fields because it isn’t registered. Within a few minutes, they destroyed everything.

We got the solar panels from the local authorities three years ago. They generated electricity for three families: us, and the Fakhr and Zuheir families who live in the community. In summer, the heat is unbearable here. Thanks to the solar power we could use a refrigerator, so we had cold water. We also used the electricity to charge our phones.

A-Tuwani, 13 June 2020: A settler tries to enter the village during the Ta'ayush tour. Photo: Nasser Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem
A-Tuwani, 13 June 2020: A settler tries to enter the village during the Ta'ayush tour. Photo: Nasser Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Settlers try to invade village during activists' tour

On Saturday, 13 June 2020, at around 12:00 P.M., activists from the grassroots group Ta’ayush visited a-Tuwani to protest the erection of a tent by settlers two weeks earlier about 300 meters from the village. During the visit, four settlers, one of them armed, tried to enter the village, sparking an argument with residents. About 20 minutes later, soldiers blocked the settlers from entering the village and ordered them to leave. A few days later, on 18 June 2020, the settlers dismantled the tent.

'Asirah al-Qibliyah, 19 June 2020: The shattered windshield of the al-'Omaris' car. Photo courtesy of the family
'Asirah al-Qibliyah, 19 June 2020: The shattered windshield of the al-'Omaris' car. Photo courtesy of the family

'Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers stone Palestinian home in broad daylight and vandalize family’s car at night

On 13 June 2020, at around 4:00 P.M., about 15 settlers stoned the home of Maysaa and ‘Abd al-Basset ‘Omari, a couple in their fifties, in the southern part of the village. The family went outside to protect their property, along with other residents who came to fend off the attack. Minutes later, a military jeep drove up and soldiers got out and started firing tear-gas canisters at the villagers. The residents dispersed and the settlers headed back towards the settlement of Yitzhar, which was established about a kilometer away in 1983.  

A few days later, on Friday, 19 June 2020, the 'Omaris were woken in the middle of the night by an explosion near their home. When they went outside to see what happened, they saw four settlers running towards a vehicle used by the Yitzhar security coordinators, standing about 150 meters away. The family discovered that the settlers had smashed the rear windshield of one of their cars and slashed its rear tires.


Central Hebron: Dozens of settlers, armed with stones, raid wadi al-Hasin neighborhood

The settlement of Giv’at Ha’avot was established about 70 meters from the neighborhood of Wadi al-Hasin in Hebron. Due to this proximity (and full military backing), the settlers allow themselves to invade the Palestinian neighborhood and do as they please in it. On Friday evening, 12 June 2020,  about 30 settlers arrived at Wadi al-Hasin. They wandered among the houses and left after a few minutes. About two hours later, they returned to the neighborhood and began throwing stones at parked cars. Dozens of residents came out to defend their property, and threw stones at the settlers to make them leave.

Neighborhood resident 'Abd al-Karim al-Ja’bari (61) quickly called a Civil Administration officer to report what was happening, and he arrived within minutes. Two police officers soon followed, accompanied by about 30 soldiers. The forces tried to separate the settlers from the residents. The settlers initially withdrew to a plot of land behind the al-Ja’bari family’s home and continued to throw stones at the road and at houses. After about half an hour, they left the area.

Over the course of the attack, the settlers shattered the windshields of four vehicles. Two of the owners, including the al-Ja’bari family, filed complaints at the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba.

'Abd al-Karim al-Ja’bari, a married father of 13, described the incursion to B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari:

My grandson Muhammad (9) ran over to me yelling “Settlers! Settlers!”. I went to the doorstep and saw about 20 settlers approaching our house. When they spotted me, they turned and went in another direction. The settlers were wandering around without a military escort.

At around 8:30 P.M., I heard shouting. I rushed outside and saw about 30 settlers, probably the same group as before, but there more of them. I saw them throw stones at cars parked by my house. My relatives came out and started yelling. A few of them started throwing stones at the settlers to keep them away.

I called an officer of the Civil Administration, and he arrived within five minutes. After a few minutes, two police officers and about 30 soldiers arrived, as well. The forces tried to calm the situation down and remove the settlers. They ordered us to get back inside and told the settlers to go back to their homes. In the end, the settlers left. Then we began assessing the damage they had caused.

Settlers assault Ibrahim Bader on his way home. Hebron, 12 June 2020. Photo: Zidan a-Sharabati
Settlers assault Ibrahim Bader on his way home. Hebron, 12 June 2020. Photo: Zidan a-Sharabati

Central Hebron: One had his nose broken, the other was beaten and had to wait in the street until the attacked ended. Two brothers were assaulted the same day by different groups of settlers.

On Friday, 12 June 2020, Muhammad Bader was sitting at his doorstep in the neighborhood of Tel Rumeidah. Bader (26), a married father of two toddlers, lives in central Hebron, where settlers’ provocations have become a daily routine. It was around 4:00 P.M. when he noticed four settlers trying to grab a cart that one of his neighbors uses for work. He asked them to leave it alone. Three of the settlers left the cart and began to beat Bader. Then, one of them pulled a heavy object from his pocket and punched Bader in the nose with it. The settlers then fled towards a-Shuhada Street. When Bader and his father tried to chase their attackers, a soldier cut them off by the military base nearby.

A few minutes later, Bader passed out. Soldiers from the base gave him first aid and called for an ambulance, which took him to ‘Aliyah Hospital in Hebron. There, he was examined and X-rayed, and diagnosed with a broken nose.

Bader was discharged at around 10:00 P.M that night.

Muhammad’s brother, Ibrahim Bader (31), was also attacked by settlers that day. At around 11:00 P.M., Ibrahim crossed the Bab a-Zawiya checkpoint (known as “Checkpoint 56”) on his way home. Suddenly, about eight settlers pounced on him and started beating him. Ibrahim tried to run back to the checkpoint, but the settlers chased him and continued to beat him there. A soldier who was at the checkpoint tried to help him get away from the settlers, but found it hard to do so. He advised Bader to wait on the other side of the checkpoint until the settlers left. Ibrahim complied and waited there for about a half an hour.

A resident of Hebron who had captured the incident on camera called Ibrahim to tell him the police had arrived. Ibrahim went back to the spot where he had been attacked and gave his testimony to the officers. They offered to pick him up from home the following day and take him to the station to file a complaint – which they did.

Khirbet Susiya, South Mt. Hebron: Israeli settlers invade the village and harass residents; soldiers refuse to remove them

On Friday morning, 12 June 2020, at around 9:00 A.M., dozens of settlers entered the Palestinian village of Khirbet Susiya. They began wandering among the houses and harassing the residents. After about a half an hour, soldiers arrived at the scene. They treated the residents dismissively and refused to remove the settlers. Only after some 15 Palestinian activists and residents began marching in protest towards the settlement of Susiya, did the soldiers remove the settlers from the village.

The military expelled the residents of Khirbet Susiya from their village in 1986 and they relocated to their farmland. Since then, the military and settlers have trying to drive them out of there, too.

“Israel lives” (“Am Yisrael Chai”) - the slogan sprayed by arsonists in Zeita (Jamma'in), 11 June, 2020. Photo: Rashid Ali Mahmoud Hanash
“Israel lives” (“Am Yisrael Chai”) - the slogan sprayed by arsonists in Zeita (Jamma'in), 11 June, 2020. Photo: Rashid Ali Mahmoud Hanash

Zeita (Jamma’in), Nablus District: Settlers torch heart patient's car and spray “Israel lives” on his wall

The Hanash family live in the northern section of Zeita. It's a rough walk from their home to the center of the village, especially if you have a heart condition. The settlers who sought to damage this remote property must have had easier access: They came, did their damage and left without anyone noticing them or holding them accountable.

It was a Thursday night, 11 June 2020, around 1:00 A.M. Muhammad Hanash (18) discovered that the family’s car was ablaze and called for help. When they went outside, the family found that apart from burning their car, the settlers had also sprayed “Israel lives” (“Am Yisrael Chai”) on one of their walls.

Rashid Hanash (48), Muhammad’s father, reported the incident to the village council and to the Palestinian police. The latter informed him they could not come, since the Palestinian Authority has stopped its security coordination with Israel.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Rashid Hanash recounted:

I saw the front part of the car on fire. We tried to put out the flames with water. Some neighbors came to help us.

Since we put out the fire, I’ve been sitting by the car in disbelief. I paid 95,000 shekels (~27,500 USD) for it and the insurance doesn’t cover damage by settlers. I’ve had open-heart surgery and rely on the car to go into Nablus for treatment. It’s hard to even reach the center of the village without a car, because our house is so far away. I don’t know what I’m going to do now.

I don’t have the means to buy another car.

The residents of a-Sawiyah, another village in the district, encountered the same slogan, “Israel lives”, and similar damage to their cars. Residents of the northern neighborhood awoke to a similar scene on Monday morning, 8 June 2020, when they found the tires of ten cars slashed. A nearby security camera captured a settler slashing a tire and walking away.  

The settlement of Rehelim was established in 1991 about two kilometers away from the neighborhood.

Nassim Haja after settler attack. Burqah, 11 June 2020. Photo: Salma a-Deb'i
Nassim Haja after settler attack. Burqah, 11 June 2020. Photo: Salma a-Deb'i

Burqah, Nablus District: “They took us by complete surprise. They were holding sticks and the tip of one had nails in it. ” Settlers attack farmers with sticks and stones.

About 15 settlers viciously assaulted farmers working their land. The incident occurred on Thursday, 11 June 2020, when three residents of Burqah were out picking hyssop (za’atar) and sage and tending to olive trees on Nasim Haja’s (42) farmland.

At around midday, the three residents – Haja, Nasrallah Salah (16) and his father Fatin Salah (49) – saw about 15 settlers who seemed to appear out of nowhere. Some of them were masked and carrying firearms and sticks. The settlers stopped several meters away and started throwing stones at Haja and Salah, who were working side by side. Three of the stones hit Haja – two in the back and one in the leg – and Fatin and Salah helped him get away. The settlers left, too.

Fatin alerted village residents, who came and took Haja home. An ambulance then took him to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he was diagnosed with torn tendons in his leg and lesions on his liver. Haja was later discharged with orders to rest for 25 days under medical supervision.

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

I heard Fatin yelling: “Settler! Settlers!”. Salah jumped up and started running towards the village. I looked back and saw four settlers really close to me, so I had no choice but to run. They took us by complete surprise. They were holding sticks and the tip of one had nails in it.

I fled. They ran around throwing stones at us and shouting at the top of their lungs. Most of them were masked and some were carrying weapons.

One of the stones hit my back and another hit my leg. I fell down. My leg hurt so much that I thought it was broken. The settlers kept throwing stones at me, and a third one hit me in the back. I just managed to drag myself away, because of my injured leg. I called Fatin and he came to help me.

The plot in which the attack took place lies a kilometer northwest of Burqah. The settlement of Homesh (evacuated in 2005) was established a kilometer from the plot. About a week earlier, on 6 May 2020, settlers attacked two shepherds near Burqah, injuring one of them in the leg.

Khirbet a-Tawamin, 7 June 2020: The cave door settlers broke down to steal stored equipment. Photo: Nasser Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem
Khirbet a-Tawamin, 7 June 2020: The cave door settlers broke down to steal stored equipment. Photo: Nasser Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem

Khirbet a-Tawamin, South Hebron Hills: Settlers steal crops and agricultural equipment

In the morning hours of Saturday, 6 June 2020, Barakat Mahmoud (52), a resident of Yatta, went to his land in the abandoned village of Khirbet a-Tawamin, where his family once lived. The plot lies about four kilometers from Khirbet Emneizal, to which most of the villagers moved. The settlement of Susiya was established near Khirbet Emneizal in 1983.  

Mahmoud worked until late at night harvesting wheat and left the sacks with the crop to pick up the next day. The following morning, he returned and found some sacks ripped open and the others stolen. That morning, other farmers who went to work their land in Khirbet a-Tawamin discovered that settlers had broken into a cave being renovated as a residence. The settlers had vandalized the door and ransacked the interior, including mattresses and other objects. They also stole work tools and an electric motor.

The seven families who lived in Khirbet A-Tawamin were expelled in 2001, and most relocated to Khirbet Emneizal. The Israeli Supreme Court, responding to a petition by residents, ruled to allow them to return to the village to cultivate their land. Since then, he residents have worked there during the day and returned to their homes in Khirbet Emneizal and Yatta.

A shattered window in ‘Einabus, 7 June 2020. Photo courtesy of the family
A shattered window in ‘Einabus, 7 June 2020. Photo courtesy of the family

‘Einabus, Nablus District: Settlers stone homes with military escort

On Sunday afternoon, 7 June 2020, at around 3:30 P.M., the Rashdan family were sitting in their courtyard, in the northern part of ‘Einabus, when they heard shouting. The father, Jad al-Karim (59), went up to the roof and saw ten masked settlers hurling stones at village homes from a hilltop about 200 meters away. With the settlers were two soldiers.

Rashdan shouted at the settlers and demanded they leave. Instead, they came closer and started throwing stones at his house and at a neighbor’s house that is under construction. Meanwhile, the rest of the family had gone up to the roof. When the settlers drew near, Rashdan asked them to go back inside and stay away from the windows.

In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Rashdan related:

My son Muhammad was visiting us with his wife and baby daughter. I asked him to find a safe spot inside the house, away from the windows, because I was worried about my granddaughter. The settlers threw stones at us and the two soldiers just stood there with their arms crossed and calmly looked on. I got so mad! I swore at the soldiers in Arabic and in Hebrew. One of them mocked me, but motioned to the settlers to move away. They headed in the direction of Yitzhar, a settlement about a kilometer and a half or two kilometers away.

After the settlers left, my son Ahmad told me he had called the village council to report what happened. They said they can't do anything now that security coordination has stopped. But even if there still was coordination, what good does it do when the soldiers themselves come with the attacking settlers and stand there doing nothing? We can only trust in God. No one else will help us.

Settlers gather around houses in ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 6 June 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Ibrahim Mahfuz's family.
Settlers gather around houses in ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 6 June 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Ibrahim Mahfuz's family.

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers attack houses with stones, soldiers join in with live fire, stun grenades and tear-gas canisters

On Saturday evening, 6 June 2020, at around 6:30 P.M., about five settlers were standing on a hilltop overlooking ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah. Beside them were a military jeep and several soldiers. The settlers started making their way towards houses in the village, as did the jeep. Then the settlers began throwing stones at the houses. When the residents came out to defend themselves and their property – the soldiers responded by hurling stun grenades and tear-gas canisters and firing live fire in the air.

The assault on the village lasted about half an hour.

The Palestinian Authority has stopped coordinating with Israeli security forces, in light of Israel's annexation plans. Therefore, the victims had no one to turn to for even a show of protection and law enforcement, and the village council head called the Red Cross for help. Meanwhile, the settlers apparently had their fill of violence and left the area.

Ancient olive tree cut down in Burin, 4 June 2020. Photo: Naser Qadus
Ancient olive tree cut down in Burin, 4 June 2020. Photo: Naser Qadus

Burin, Nablus District: Settlers cut down 80 ancient olive trees

Naser Qadus (52) learned over the phone that most of the trees on his plot had been cut down. It was around 5:00 P.M. on Thursday afternoon, 4 June 2020, when he got the terrible news.

Qadus' land lies in the southern part of the village, about two kilometers from where the settlement of Yitzhar was established. As the military forbids him from entering his own land without prior coordination with the Israeli DCO, he could not check on the trees straightaway. Two days later, in the early morning hours, Qadus finally got to his land and discovered that 80 ancient olive trees had been cut down.  

In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Qadus recounted:

I took advantage of the fact that the settlers don’t usually leave home early on Saturdays and went to my plot at about 7:00 A.M. I found they hadn't left a single tree intact. It looked like the trees had been cut down four or five days earlier, because the branches were starting to dry out. When I saw the trees lying on the ground, I choked up and quickly left. I couldn’t stay there and see that horrible sight.  

I managed to get home without running into the settlers or the military jeeps that patrol around Yitzhar. I feel completely helpless.

Hasan al-Mashni after settler attack in the family's grove, 3 June, 2020. Photo: Musa Abu Hashhash, B’Tselem
Hasan al-Mashni after settler attack in the family's grove, 3 June, 2020. Photo: Musa Abu Hashhash, B’Tselem

A-Shuyukh, Hebron District: Three family members require medical treatment after settlers attack them with dogs

Taleb al-Mashni (73), his wife Khadrah Hlaiqah (59) and their son Hasan (36) were in their olive grove when six settlers suddenly pounced on them. The settlers broke Hasan’s finger, beat all three family members and threatened them at gunpoint. The grave incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon, 3 June 2020, when the family arrived at the plot they have been working for the last five years. The plot lies about four kilometers from a-Shuyukh and about two kilometers from the settlement of Asfar (known as Metzad), which was established in 1984.

At around 12:00 P.M., the family noticed about six settlers approaching them, four on ATV’s and two on foot with two dogs. On their way, the settlers drove out a shepherd whose flock had just invaded the al-Mashni’s land, while the family tried to shoo the sheep away to protect their young olive trees.

The settlers began shouting in Hebrew that it was their land and ordered the owners to leave. In the ensuing argument, one of the settlers gripped Hasan’s left hand and broke his finger. Two others started kicking and pushing him while the dogs bit his legs. Khadrah and Taleb tried to get the settlers off their son, but one of them snatched a stick Taleb was holding, kicked him in the stomach and hit Hasan on the head with the stick. When Khadrah tried to help her son, the settler beat her, as well.

Relatives who were in the area tried to separate the family from settlers, along with a shepherd who happened by the scene.  At that point, one of the settlers drew a gun and threated to shoot if his victims didn't leave. Taleb’s cousin, who arrived towards the end of the assault, tried to calm the threatening settler and the family moved away.

A short while later, the settlers withdrew towards the settlement of Metzad (Asfar).

Taleb al-Mashni spoke with B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash and described the attack on his family on their own land:

The settlers yelled at us to leave and claimed that we were on their land. Hasan and I replied that it was our land and they were the ones who should leave. They got very angry. One heavyset settler went over to Hasan and attacked him. He grabbed his left hand and twisted his middle finger. Two other settlers started to push Hasan and kick him, and the two dogs attacked him from behind.

I tried to threaten the settlers with my stick, but one of them snatched it from my hand and hit Hasan on the head with it.

Khadrah Hlaiqah also gave her testimony to B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash:

I heard Hasan screaming in pain. Two other settlers started pushing and kicking him. I saw two dogs attack Hasan from behind.
I saw Hasan lying on the ground, suffering the beating. It was horrible. My husband had his hands on stomach and it was obvious he was in pain, too. Suddenly, one of the settlers pulled a gun and started waving it around. He threatened to shoot if we didn’t leave.

After the assault, the family required medical treatment. The parents received first aid at a medical clinic in the town of a-Shuyukh. Hasan al-Mashni was taken to ‘Aliyah Hospital in Hebron, where he was examined and X-rayed. The broken middle finger in his left hand was put in a cast and he was referred for a rabies shot.

The next day, Hasan and his cousin ‘Ayed al-Mashni went to the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba and filed a complaint against the settlers who had attacked the family. They gave the officers video footage in which the attackers could be identified.

Slashed pipes in Khirbet Jib'it, 1 June 2020. Photo: courtesy of the family
Slashed pipes in Khirbet Jib'it, 1 June 2020. Photo: courtesy of the family

Khirbet Jab’it, Ramallah District: Settlers vandalize water pipes, forcing community to dismantle them every evening for protection

On Monday night, 1 June 2020, settlers cut the pipes that carry water from the community’s cisterns to its homes. The residents use the water for drinking, cleaning and watering flocks. It was the second time in a week that settlers vandalized the essential pipes.

Robbed of the precious resource, the residents had to buy water and transport it from the neighboring village of al-Mughayir. They also had to buy new pipes. They now dismantle the pipes every night and assemble them again at dawn, for fear the settlers will damage them again.

Last February, some ten settlers invaded the community’s homes on the pretext they were looking for sheep that had been stolen from them. Throughout the violent incursion, settlers attacked three shepherds, one of whom was hit in the head and rushed to a hospital. Two other residents were injured and treated on the spot.

Mahmoud Abu Sabhah, resident of Khirbet Emneizal in the South Hebron Hills.  Photo by Musa Abu Hashhash
Mahmoud Abu Sabhah, resident of Khirbet Emneizal in the South Hebron Hills. Photo by Musa Abu Hashhash

Khirbet a-Tawamin, Masafer Yatta: Settlers try to run over a shepherd, seize him and threaten him violently; police arrest the victim and demand bail for his release

Mahmoud Abu Sabhah (22), is a shepherd from Khirbet Emneizal in the South Hebron Hills. On Monday morning, 1 June 2020, he set out to graze his family’s flock, about 200 sheep, on pastureland the family owns near Khirbet a-Tawamin, where they used to live. The land lies about a kilometer and a half from Khirbet Emneizal, and the settlement of Susiya was established in 1983 near it.

At the pastureland, Abu Sabhah met another resident of Emneizal, Sadam Rashid (13), who was there grazing his family’s flock. At around 9:00 A.M., the two decided to lead their flocks to an adjacent hill. Rashid made his way there and Abu Sabhah stayed behind to water his flock from a well on the land.

Suddenly, a drone appeared overhead. It flew low over the sheep and they scattered in alarm. After about ten minutes, the drone moved away and two settlers appeared on an ATV. The driver, whom Abu Sabhah knows by the name Yaakov, drove towards him at high speed and chased him as he tried to escape.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash, Abu Sabhah related how the settlers chased and threatened him with a gun, a knife and a dog:

I ran towards an area with big boulders, which is difficult to cross with an ATV. I tried to call the Israel Police. When the settlers saw me take out the phone, they got off the ATV and ran towards me. Yaakov grabbed me, took out his gun and threatened to shoot me if I tried to call the police. The other settler took out a knife and kicked my leg, while threatening me with a dog he had on a rope. Then the setters went over to my sheep and tried to lead them towards the settlement.

Rashid, who saw what was happening from a nearby hilltop, phoned his relatives for help.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash, Rashid described the assault he witnessed:

From where I was standing, I saw a small drone flying near Mahmoud and his sheep. I saw the sheep run away and scatter in different directions. I assumed it was settlers from Susiya flying the drone. I was watching what was happening, and then I saw an ATV driving fast towards Mahmoud. I saw him running away from it. I called my cousin in Khirbet Emneizal. I told him that a group of settlers was attacking Mahmoud and asked that people come to help him. Suddenly, the ATV stopped. Two settlers and a dog got out and approached Mahmoud. I was terrified they would attack him and started heading towards them.  

At that point, Abu Sabhah called the Israel Police. After a few minutes, three soldiers arrived on foot. They led Abu Sabhah to the nearby Bet Yatir/al-Asaifer checkpoint, near the entrance to Khirbet Emneizal. There were several police patrol cars, a Civil Administration vehicle and military jeeps at the checkpoint. A police officer ordered Abu Sabhah to get into a patrol car, which drove him to the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba.

Meanwhile, Abu Sabhah’s father gathered the sheep that had scattered across the fields after the settlers left the area.

At the police station, Abu Sabhah had to wait for three hours. When he was finally interrogated, he was accused of falsely complaining that a settler had shot him. Abu Sabhah explained to the interrogator that he had reported to the police that a settler had threatened him at gunpoint to shoot him if he called the police. The interrogator informed him that he was under arrest and demanded that his family pay 500 NIS (~145 USD) bail to release him.

Abu Sabhah’s father deposited the bail. Abu Sabhah was released after having to commit to appear in court in November for a hearing in his case.

May 2020

Fence destructed by settlers in Fadel 'Aydah's plot. Beit 'Einun, 22 May 2020. Photo: Fadel 'Aydah
Fence destructed by settlers in Fadel 'Aydah's plot. Beit 'Einun, 22 May 2020. Photo: Fadel 'Aydah

Beit ‘Einun, Hebron District: Settlers uproot 130 olive seedlings and damage fence around plot in attempt to take it over

Fadel ‘Aydah (46), a resident of Hebron, learned of the damage the settlers had caused him on Friday, 22 May 2020. An area resident called him to say four settlers were on his land, uprooting the olive seedlings he had planted a year ago as part of a Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture project. ‘Aydah was at work and could only get to the land the next day. When he got there, the sight he found was unbelievable: Settlers had uprooted all 130 of his olive seedlings. Six days later, 'Aydah filed a complaint at the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba. He has not heard a thing about his case since.

The perpetrators quickly tried to leverage their vandalism to take over ‘Aydah's land. They returned with a bulldozer and demolished a substantial part of the fence that 'Aydah and his brother recently put up around the plot. That took place on 5 June 2020, and again the same resident spotted them and called ‘Aydah to report that one of the settlers who uprooted the seedlings was now destroying the fence. When ‘Aydah reached the scene, he found much of the fence in ruins.

‘Aydah’s land lies east of Beit ‘Einun. In the 1980s, the neighborhood of Giv’at Harsina in Kiryat Arba, was established about three kilometers from it.


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