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

March 2020

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Silat a-Dhahr, Jenin District, 23 March 2020: Settlers attack farmers and security forces
Silat a-Dhahr, Jenin District, 23 March 2020: Settlers attack farmers and security forces

Silat a-Dhahr: Settlers attack farmers and security forces

On Monday, 23 March 2020, at around noon, brothers ‘Adnan and Husni al-Qadi, 73 and 70 respectively, drove from their homes in the village of Silat a-Dhahr in Jenin District to their plot, which is located near the area once occupied by the settlement of Homesh. The settlement was evacuated as part of the “disengagement plan” in 2005. In the last two years, the two brothers have gone back to cultivating their land after the military granted them permission to access it. When they arrived, before they were able to get out of the car, the brothers came across several settlers who ordered them to keep driving without stopping. They kept driving up the road, where 20 club-wielding settlers were waiting in ambush. The settlers began throwing stones at them. They broke a window and damaged the front bumper. Husni al-Qadi, who was driving, tried to steer away, but found himself on a hilly dirt road and was unable to drive on. The two got out of the car and fled on foot, under a barrage of stones, to the nearby village of Burqah. As they were fleeing, a stone hit ‘Adnan al-Qadi’s neck, injuring him.

When the two managed to return home, they reported the attack to the Palestinian DCO, following which two representatives of the Israeli DCO came to the village, picked up the brothers and took them to where they had left their car. When they arrived, the settlers attacked the military and DCO vehicles. Instead of arresting them, the forces chose to simply leave. Later, village residents managed to tow the car, using a tractor, to the village of Burqah, and Israeli police officers who arrived there took photos of it and asked the al-Qadi brothers to file a complaint at the Ariel police station. The brothers filed the complaint.

Silat a-Dhahr, Jenin District, 23 March 2020: Settlers attack farmers and security forces.

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Burqah, Nablus District, 19 March 2020: Settlers attack home with stones and damage property
Burqah, Nablus District, 19 March 2020: Settlers attack home with stones and damage property

Burqah: Settlers attack home with stones and damage property

On 19 March 2020, about 50 settlers threw stones at a home under construction in the Bab al-Wad neighborhood, located in the northeastern part of the village. The home belongs to Muhannad Yasin, 46. The settlers broke about 40 young fruit trees Yasin had planted in his yard about two years ago, damaged a 1.5-cubic-meter water tank and cut pipes running from the tank into taps inside the house. The settlers damaged a water tank in a neighboring house, as well.

The homeowner contacted the Palestinian DCO, which informed the Israeli DCO, but no one came. The owner says he feels as though the Israelis are ignoring his pleas and giving the settlers free rein to attack village residents.

Burqah, Nablus District, 19 March 2020: Settlers attack home with stones and damage property.

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‘Ein a-Duyuk al-Foqa: Settlers attack shepherds and drive them off pastureland

On 16 March 2020, Muhammad Rashaydah, 63, from ,’Ein a-Duyuk al-Foqa, set out to graze his flock west of the village. Other men and women from the area were also grazing their flocks in the vicinity. After about an hour, a car arrived with two settlers. One of them, Omer Atidiya, built a farm in the area. The settlers shouted at the shepherds, threatened them and chased the sheep. Atidiya shouted at the female shepherds that this was his land and demanded they leave. The settlers drove in between the animals, and the shepherds had to leave with their flocks.

This is not unusual. Residents of the village, who make their living from shepherding, suffer harassment and violence at the hands of settlers on an almost daily basis. Settlers attack them with stones, with their vehicles and even with drones, and drive them off their pastureland. Settlers also discard sheep carcasses near the community, creating severe odor pollution and a sanitation hazard.

‘Ein a-Duyuk al-Foqa, Jericho District, 16 March 2020: Settlers attack shepherds and drive them off pastureland.

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Huwarah: Settlers damage heavy equipment

Shortly after midnight on 15 March 2020, about ten settlers went into a lot in the southern part of the village of Huwarah, where heavy equipment belonging to ‘Abdallah ‘Odeh, a local resident, was parked. The settlement of Yitzhar is located about a kilometer away. The settlers broke windows and slashed the tires of 12 bulldozers and other heavy machinery, causing an estimated 40,000 NIS (~11,170 USD) worth of damage.

Huwarah, Nablus District, 15 March 2020: Settlers damage heavy equipment.

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Broken window in the Hamed's family home. Photo courtesy of family
Broken window in the Hamed's family home. Photo courtesy of family

Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of stones shattering your windows

On 12 March 2020, at around 1:00 A.M., villagers from ‘Einabus woke up to a terrifying sound: stones flying everywhere. Some shattered windows in the homes of the Hamad and Rashdan families. A parked car was also pelted with stones.

The homes that were attacked lie in al-Biada, in the western part of ‘Einabus. The settlement of Yitzhar was built two kilometers away from the neighborhood. The victims manage to catch a glimpse of their attackers – about twenty settlers who fled in the direction of the settlement. 

Jinan Hamad, 48, spoke about the attack in a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i:

‘I got up at night to get a drink of water. As I was going back to my room, I heard glass shatter in the kitchen. A stone hit the kitchen wall, another landed in the sink, and a third hit the refrigerator. My whole body was shaking with fear because if a stone had hit me, I might not have survived. I got even more stressed when my husband and sons went outside to run after the settlers who attacked us. I was afraid they’d shoot them”.

 

In ‘Einabus, whose residents are forced to live under the threatening shadow of Yitzhar, B’Tselem has documented 14 incidents of settler violence since 2009. Locals can list off the most traumatic of them, some of which took place under the protection of the military and with soldiers present: residents and homes attacked; classrooms in the village elementary school torched, tractors and vehicles torched and vandalized, nearly 300 olive trees burnt, livestock slaughtered, tires punctured and hate graffiti sprayed on homes and on the mosque. We have reported on some of these incidents over the years.

‘Einabus, 12 March 2020 – settlers from Yitzhar throw stones, shattering windows of two homes and a car.
 

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Huwarah: With military protection, settlers throw stones at Palestinian homes, breaking windows

On Wednesday, 11 March 2020, soldiers closed the Huwarah checkpoint and a section of Route 60 (the Yitzhar Road) for Palestinian traffic for about two hours starting at 11:00 A.M. After the closure, about 25 settlers gathered in the traffic circle at the turn-off into Yitzhar, with a military escort. The settlers threw stones at village houses near the area, breaking windows of one house and of three parked cars.

Huwarah, Nablus District, 11 March 2020: With military protection, settlers throw stones at Palestinian homes, breaking windows.

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Musa Abu ‘Awwad with one of his grandsons. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem
Musa Abu ‘Awwad with one of his grandsons. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem

Red Line?

On Tuesday, 10 March 2020, two residents of Turmusaya – Musa Abu ‘Awwad and his Son-in-law, Tareq a-Rifa’i – were driving on a dirt road that leads to their village. Tareq’s two-year-old twins, Adam and Nur, were in the car with them. When they were not far from the outpost of Adei Ad, three settlers drove up behind them on motorcycles, overtook the car and blocked their way. 

The settlers dismounted and approached the car, yelling in Hebrew and Arabic: “Why are you here? What are you doing here? We’ll shoot you and your children!” They demanded to see the passengers’ ID cards and, after a verbal exchange, Abu ‘Awwad and a-Rifa’i handed them over. When they tried to get the cards back, the settlers were slow to return them and a loud altercation ensued, waking the twins, who began crying. 

At that point, the incident escalated quickly. One settler put his hands out to pull Adam out of the back seat. After pushing and shoving, Abu ‘Awwad and a-Rifa’i managed to release him from his  hands and get back into the car.

A-Rifa’i turned the key to start the car and flee, at which point one of the settlers broke the back window of the car with the butt of his rifle. 

As they drove away, the passengers saw the settlers return to the outpost of Adei Ad. 


Tareq a-Rifa’i described what he, his father-in-law and his sons went through on that difficult day in a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad:

After the assault, the kids were scared and upset. They couldn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t sleep either. I stayed up, unsettled, thinking about the incident. I had terrifying thoughts. 
 
After I filed a complaint, an officer from the Israeli DCO contacted me and asked me about the incident. It was a conference call with a representative from the Palestinian DCO, and after I described what had happened, the officer said: “This act is unacceptable and shameful. Trying to hurt children is crossing a red line and can’t be tolerated”. Then he said: “We hope there won’t be any retaliation from your side...” 

The officer promised me the incident would be investigated and asked me to file a complaint at the Israel Police station in Binyamin. I told him we weren’t troublemakers and that my children have American citizenship. I said: “These settlers are first of all harming you and your reputation, because they act like robbers and gangsters.” He said: “Yes... That’s the ‘hill-top youth’. Lawbreakers! We’re after them, and I promise you we’ll take care of it”. 
 

A shattered window in Tareq a-Rifa’i's car. Photo courtesy of the family
A shattered window in Tareq a-Rifa’i's car. Photo courtesy of the family


10 March 2020, Turmusaya, settlers detain Palestinian car, threaten passengers, attempt to abduct a toddler and break car window with rifle butt.

Burin: Settlers attack home; soldiers protect them and fire tear gas at residents

Some 10 settlers, accompanied by about five soldiers, damaged a house under construction owned by Muntasser Mansur, on the eastern side of the village. The settlers vandalized three exterior walls of the house, broke sewage pipes and scattered cement sacks - all under the protection of soldiers, who fired tear-gas canisters at residents trying to protect the house. The damage caused by the settlers was estimated at 2,000 NIS (~560 USD).

 Mansur’s house has been attacked and damaged by settlers several times. The Civil Administration has tried to prevent Mansur from building it and has given him several stop-work injunctions, although the house lies in Area B, where the Palestinian Authority holds planning jurisdiction and has given Mansur a building permit.

Burin, Nablus District, 10 March 2020: Settlers attack home; soldiers protect them and fire tear gas at residents.

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Musa Zeid
Musa Zeid

A-Nu'eimeh: Settler attacks shepherds

On 8 March 2020, Musa Zeid (25) set out from a-Nu’eimeh with his brothers and sisters to graze their flock not far from the village. They were accompanied by activists from the Solidarity movement. A settler has taken over hundreds of hectares nearby and built an outpost named Havat Omer. As the shepherds were grazing their flock, the settler arrived and started to chase them with his truck, shouting and threatening to run over the flock. Luckily, the shepherds and the activists managed to escape unharmed. 

א-נוייעמה, בקעת הירדן, 8.3.20: מתנחל תקף רועי צאן.

A-Nu'eimeh, Jordan Valley, 8 March 2020: Settler attacks shepherds.

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Madama: Settlers attack home, soldiers fire live rounds in the air and tear-gas canisters at residents

On 7 March 2020, about 15 settlers, including the armed chief of security of Yitzhar, entered the village of Madama and started hurling stones at houses. Residents who heard the commotion went outside to see what was happening. As in other cases, some 15 soldiers summoned there began firing live rounds in the air and tear-gas canisters at the residents who had gathered to defend their homes.

In a verbal exchange that ensued, the soldiers detained a B’Tselem volunteer who was documenting the incident, confiscated his and another volunteer’s cameras and gave them to Yitzhar’s chief of security, who then erased some footage of the incident. Read more....

Madama, 7 March 2020: Settlers attack home, soldiers fire live rounds in the air and tear-gas canisters at residents

Madama, 7 March 2020: Settlers attack home, soldiers fire live rounds in the air and tear-gas canisters at residents.

Burin: Settlers attack home at edge of village, soldiers open live fire at occupants

On Saturday, 7 March 2020, at around midday, ‘Ali ‘Eid (16) and his brother Osama (20) were at home on the eastern side of the village. Suddenly, about eight settlers started throwing stones at the house, shattering two windows and a security camera. The home is a target as it lies on the outskirts of the village, about a kilometer from the settlement of Har Bracha and the outpost of Giv’at Sneh Ya’akov, and about two kilometers from the settlement of Yitzhar. When the settlers started to withdraw, Ali opened a window to see what was going on. In response, a soldier fired a stun grenade at him. Village residents then gathered around the house to check on ‘Ali and his brother. The two climbed up to the roof to reassure the residents they weren't injured. When the soldiers noticed them, they began firing live rounds at them, and also fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades at the residents gathered around the house. ‘Ali and his brother went back into the house, fortunately unharmed. 

Burin, 7 March 2020: Settlers attack home at edge of village, soldiers open live fire at occupants

Burin, 7 March 2020: Settlers attack home at edge of village, soldiers open live fire at occupants.

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Khirbet Jib’it: Settlers steal 25 lambs

On 5 March 2020, while 'Umran Abu 'Alia and his family were busy milking their sheep, settlers arrived and snuck into the lambs, held 100 meters away from the lambs pen, and stole 25 lambs.

This followed a settler raid on the community’s tents several days earlier on the false grounds that residents had stolen sheep from them, although the settlers found nothing

Khirbet Jib’it, 5 March 2020: Settlers steal 25 lambs.

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Taysir Naji, next to one of the broken trees. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 3 March 2020
Taysir Naji, next to one of the broken trees. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 3 March 2020

Kafr a-Dik: Armed settlers “hike” with children in resident’s grove and break branches

On the morning of 2 March 2020, Taysir Naji (70) went to his olive grove, located west of the village, as he does every day. The settlement of Pedu’el was built about three kilometers from the grove, across the valley. When he got there, he found some 12 olive seedlings uprooted and lying on the ground and a group of about 40 settlers, including women, children and armed men.

Naji went up to one of the settlers, who was carrying a rifle, and asked why the seedlings had been broken. The settler denied the claim, threatened Naji and demanded he leave. Fearing for his safety, Naji left, alerted his son and reported what had happened to the village council.

After about 15 minutes, Naji’s son, ‘Abed (24), arrived. He went over to the settlers and asked them to leave the family’s grove. The settlers refused and in the ensuing argument, one drew his weapon and threatened ‘Abed. At that point, about 15 village residents arrived and the settlers left. Naji filed a complaint with the Palestinian DCO but has yet to hear back from the Israeli authorities.

Kafr a-Dik, 2 March 2020: Armed settlers “hike” with children in resident’s grove and break branches.

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Jamal Salameh. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 3 March 2020
Jamal Salameh. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 3 March 2020

“The settlers want to take over my land, but I’m determined to keep working it”


Jamal Salameh, 60, from the Palestinian village of Bruqin, has high-yielding land. Three years ago, he planted 100 olive trees, which grow alongside pomegranate, fig, loquat, and guava trees and vegetable crops. Salameh visits his plot daily and when he arrived there on Sunday, 1 March 2020, he immediately noticed something was amiss: 20 olive and 60 cucumber seedlings had been uprooted and the branches of three olive trees broken. A shepherd from the village who passed by said he had seen three settlers in the plot the day before.

Salameh replanted the olive seedlings and notified the municipality of Bruqin and the ministry of agriculture in Salfit of the damage. 

Two years ago, 40 olive trees were destroyed in Salameh’s plot; nine years ago, settlers set fire to some 400 olive trees on farmland belonging to residents of Bruqin, including Salameh. They were then spotted fleeing towards the settlement of Bruchin.

In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, Salameh described the settlers’ damage to Palestinian property in the Bruqin area:

“This recurring aggression has one purpose – to remove me from the land, so that I don’t work the land or raise crops on it. The settlers want the land for themselves. They want to prevent my access and take it over. I am determined to keep cultivating my land, even if the violent acts continue. In the past, I filed complaints but there were no results. This time I decided not to file a complaint because I’m convinced they will do nothing to the perpetrators and I won’t get any justice”. 

Brukin, 1 March 2020 – settlers uproot and break dozens of olive and cucumber seedlings.

February 2020

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Huwarah 27 February 2020: Rampage on the road, gunfire, car damage and destruction of goods - with military protection
Huwarah 27 February 2020: Rampage on the road, gunfire, car damage and destruction of goods - with military protection

Huwarah: Rampage on the road, gunfire, car damage and destruction of goods - with military protection

On Thursday evening, 27 February 2020, a car with Israeli license plates blocked the main road in Huwarah (Road 60). Four settlers got out of the car and began shouting at the Palestinian drivers who had stopped behind them. Another car, also with Israeli license plates, stopped next to the first one, and an armed settler came out and threatened Palestinian passersby and drivers with his weapon to prevent them from approaching. 
 
‘Ali ‘Aqel, 30, a resident of Huwarah, has a grocery store on the side of the road. At the time of the incident, ‘Aqel was helping a customer put groceries in his car, which was parked in front of the store. The two approached the settlers and asked them what they were doing. In response, one of the settlers pepper-sprayed them, forcing ‘Aqel and his customer to retreat. The settlers began throwing stones at the customer’s car, breaking its windshields. 

The commotion brought four young men out of a nearby office, and the settlers threatened and pepper-sprayed them as well. Local residents gathered at the scene and started throwing stones at the settlers in order to get them to retreat.

At that point, the armed settler pointed his gun at the four men, and another pulled a pistol out of his car and fired several times in the air. The four men ran into the office as a settler chased them. They managed to lock the door and keep the settlers out. 
 

Suhayb Dmeidi, 22, described what happened next to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Dib’i:

We ran back into the office, and then we heard six or seven bullets fired behind us. I heard glass shattering, but there was nothing I could do. I knew that if we went outside, they’d kill us. It was terrifying.  

At that point, several military jeeps arrived at the scene, and the settlers got into their cars and left. The soldiers fired tear gas canisters at the Palestinians, forcing them to disperse. When the cloud of tear gas dissipated, the four men came out of the office and discovered that the settlers had shattered the windshields of two of their cars and those of three cars belonging to other residents.
 
The settlers returned shortly after, this time with a third car and three military jeeps. The settlers exited their vehicles and began throwing stones at Palestinian cars driving on the road, hitting three of them. The soldiers did not attempt to stop the settlers, and even fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters at the residents who exited their vehicles.

Three young men working in a nearby restaurant suffered from tear gas inhalation and were taken to a clinic in the village. Before the settlers left, they threw all the produce on display outside ‘Aqel’s store onto the road, causing damages worth 1,500 NIS.  

Huwarah 27 February 2020: Rampage on the road, gunfire, car damage and destruction of goods - with military protection.

 

Al-Khader and Husan, 27 February 2020 – settlers vandalize olive saplings, ancient olive trees, grapevines and almond trees.
Al-Khader and Husan, 27 February 2020 – settlers vandalize olive saplings, ancient olive trees, grapevines and almond trees.

Hundreds of young and ancient trees vandalized in one day in Bethlehem area

Hundreds of olive saplings and ancient olive trees, as well as grapevines and almond trees, were vandalized in the villages of al-Khader and Husan throughout Tuesday, 27 February 2020. 

Four farmers from al-Khader discovered that hundreds of olive trees, almond trees and grapevines had been vandalized on their land, which lies near Route 60. The settlement of Elazar was built across from their land. Most of the olive trees were saplings the farmers had just planted, and the rest were ancient trees that bore fruit for years. The farmers filed a complaint with the Israel Police. Officers came to the grove, took photos and left.

The same day, two farmers from the village of Husan discovered that about 70 olive saplings had been uprooted in their grove and ten ancient trees vandalized. The settlement of Beitar Illit lies a short distance from the groves, and the farmers filed a complaint with its municipality.

Al-Khader and Husan, 27 February 2020 – settlers vandalize olive saplings, ancient olive trees, grapevines and almond trees.

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Yasuf, 26 Feb. 2020 – tires slashed on 14 cars, hate graffiti sprayed on homes
Yasuf, 26 Feb. 2020 – tires slashed on 14 cars, hate graffiti sprayed on homes

There will be war over Judea and Samaria (The West Bank)

What message did the settlers wish to send when they arrived at the Palestinian village of Yasuf, Nablus district, on 26 Feb. 2020, in the middle of the night, and slashed 14 car tires? The answer was sprayed on a building wall: “There will be war over Judea and Samaria”.

Residents of the village often feel that this war has already begun: B’Tselem documented an attack on the home of the head of the village council, Ibrahim ‘Ebayeh, whose house was stoned and its windows smashed. His car was also vandalized. On other occasions, settlers sprayed graffiti, burned cars and set fire to a mosque. It’s war.

On the morning of the last incident, around 11:30 A.M., members of the Israeli DCO arrived with military jeeps and photographed the vehicles. A souvenir. 

Nazem ‘Obeid, a village resident and father of eight, recounted the morning of 26 Feb. 2020 in a testimony he gave a few days later to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i: 

I woke up around 6:30 A.M. to the sound of knocking on my front door. We live in the eastern part of the village. I went outside and saw that the tires of my two son’s cars had been slashed and a Star of David sprayed on the wall of the house next door. I was shocked. When I woke my sons up, I saw the neighbors checking their cars and realized their tires had been slashed, too.

Our village doesn’t have a tire repair shop, so we had to drive to Salfit to buy used tires, because the slashing didn’t allow for repair. My sons need their cars, since there is no public transportation from the village to Ramallah. On the day of the incident, the three of us didn’t go to work. Now we’re all waiting for the Israeli DCO representative but judging from past experience, I’m sure they won’t do anything and that it’s just a formal procedure.

Yasuf, 26 Feb. 2020 – tires slashed on 14 cars, hate graffiti sprayed on homes.

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“The settlers came down from the hills armed with clubs, sticks, guns and knives. Some of them had dogs”

Settler attacks - including harassment of Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley, assaults on shepherds and expulsion of herds have long since become ubiquitous. They are part of the settlers’ efforts to take over Palestinian land.  Ras al-A’uja, Jericho District, is home to several communities with dozens of families who live in tents, shacks and caravans, including Qabun and Khirbet Jab’it. Settlers came to these communities at night, stole sheep and threatened locals. The same thing happened in the community of a-Nuwei’mah, some six kilometers south of this area.

What happened in Ras al-A’uja on Friday, 21 February 2020, will remain in the memories of the locals and their children for some time: Dozens of settlers descended from the hills, on foot and by car. They tried to scatter the sheep grazing near the tents and invaded a tent belonging to the Zayed family. The family’s five children were inside at the time, and the community members, who were nearby, noticed and rushed to help them. The settlers, shouting they were looking for the young men of the community, surrounded the children and the adults who had come to their aid inside the tent, threatened and terrorized them, including with their-dogs. One of the settlers hit a local on the head with the butt of his rifle.

Residents of Ras al-A’uja tried to alert four soldiers and two police officers who were standing only about 100 meters away, but they refused to protect them or stop the settlers.  It was not until the incident was drawing to an end, about two hours later, that they approached and told the settlers to leave. 

‘Aishah Zayed, 46 and mother of six, spoke about the raid to B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh: 

When I looked at the tent where my children were, I saw settlers armed with guns, knives and clubs. I ran over there, and when I got there, I saw the settlers made them all sit in the corner of the tent. They were shaking with fear. One settler asked, “Where are the guys”? I understood from that they were looking for the young men to attack them. Another settler threatened to set his assault dog on me. He kept releasing his leash so he can lunge in my direction and then pulled him back. The children were terrified and started screaming. One of the settlers went over to my daughters, Anwaar and Sawsan, who are 14 and 11, and scared them with his dog. 

The settlers shouted at us and threatened to kill us, and then there was mutual shouting and hitting between us and them. One of them hit one of the guys from the community on the head with a rifle butt. It was awful. This nightmare went on for almost two hours.

‘Aishah Zayed’s husband, Hussein Zayed, 57 said:

The settlers came down from the hills armed with clubs, sticks, guns and knives. Some of them had dogs. Who can we complain to about them? Believe me, the military and the police stood not too far, and people asked them to intervene, but they refused! They want the settlers to kill us. They wait on the sidelines until someone hits a settler so they can arrest him and make his life miserable. People live in constant anxiety because everyone knows the settlers and the military work together. They’re all military. 

You wake up one morning, and you have nowhere to go - on one side there are settlers, on the other military, there are no safe places anymore. Because of the fear, we don’t take the sheep out to pasture, and they stay shut-in in the pens, even though it’s our only source of income. Despite everything, this is where we live. We have no other place to go. 

Ras al-A’uja, 21 February 2020 - armed settlers raid residential tent, terrorize women and children and beat residents. 

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Violently and viciously - settlers threaten shepherding communities, beat residents and steal 25 lambs

They returned again and again, on different pretexts and with the typical air of self-declared lords of the land, harassing shepherding communities both during the day and at night: On 16 February 2020, in the early afternoon, about ten settlers came to the community of Khirbet Jib’it in the Ramallah District. They went from tent to tent, saying they were “looking for stolen sheep.” A half-hour later, the same group, using the same pretext, came to the community of Qabun, located about a kilometer away.

Later that day, close to 9:00 P.M., settlers again descended on both these communities - some armed and carrying clubs. They went into a livestock pen and threatened the shepherds who hurried over. In Qabun, three shepherds were attacked with clubs. One of them, 60-year-old Hassan al-Kabash, was hit in the head and taken to a Ramallah hospital to have the wounds stitched. The other two suffered bruising.

A few weeks later, on 5 March 2020, while 'Umran Abu 'Alia and his family were busy milking their sheep, settlers arrived and snuck into the lambs pen, held 100 meters away from the lambs pen, and stole 25 lambs.

And what did the authorities do? Several days after that, on Monday afternoon, 9 March 2020, Civil Administration personnel arrived in Khirbet Jib’it with military jeeps, dismantled and confiscated two tents used as residences, two others used as livestock pens, a portable toilet and a generator. The tents and other items belong to two families with a total of 13 members, including eight minors.

A total of eleven families make up the sister communities of Khirbet Jib’it and Qabun. The two communities, where residents make their living from shepherding, share a traditional bond of solidarity and friendship.  About 15 years ago, a settler took over the area that lies between their two hamlets and set up a livestock pen, tents and shacks, disconnecting the communities.

Abu’ Alia spoke to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i about these incidents and their impact on the community:

The settlers decided to take vengeance on us for the theft of their sheep and give themselves compensation at my expense! They stole the fruits of my labor, what I'd been waiting for the entire year and destroyed us completely. The sale of those lambs was supposed to sustain us for the whole year. Raising sheep is very difficult and involves lots of expenses. Young lambs, like the ones that were stolen from us, cost nearly 250 [Jordanian] Dinar each - a very large sum.

With the protection of the military base that’s nearby, the settlers put up their homes and shacks here and installed lighting in the whole area they took over, while we are forced to live without electricity, infrastructure, roads or a connection to the water supply. The military even dismantles and confiscates the tents we live in, not to mention the portable toilet Actionaid donated to us. Because of that, my four daughters, the oldest of whom is only five, now have to go to the toilet out in the open.

Khirbet Jab’it, 16 February and 5 March 2020, settlers assault shepherds and steal 25 lams

Khirbet Jib’it, 16 February and 5 March 2020, settlers assault shepherds and steal 25 lams.
 

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Ahmad Abu Diya
Ahmad Abu Diya

“Go to Abbas, let him compensate you!”

A story that begins with a stolen donkey, continues with stones thrown at its owner, and ends with the DCO’s disdainful refusal to pay compensation and even accept a complaint against the settlers.

In early January 2020, Ahmad Abu Diya, 24, a shepherd from the village of a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah, led his flock of sheep to graze in the area of Wadi Yasuf, near which the settlement of Rehelim was established. He tied the donkey and grazed the sheep close by. Suddenly, he noticed 10 settlers untying the rope and taking the donkey towards the settlement. As he couldn’t leave the sheep, he stayed put. The next day, Abu Diya went to Rehelim to get his donkey back. Since the military forbids Palestinians to enter settlements, Abu Diya lodged his complaint with the guard at the entrance to the settlement, who replied he would check the matter and get back to him.

A month passed. On 4 February, Abu Diya noticed his donkey standing by a tent erected by settlers between his village, a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah, and the village of a-Sawiyah. Together with his friend, Jihad ‘Awaisa, Abu Diya went to the settlement to try once again to get his donkey back. The guards sent the two to wait in ‘Awaisa’s car, at the entrance to the settlement. While they were waiting, four settlers suddenly appeared and threw stones at the car. The windscreen shattered and other stones hit the chassis. 
The two friends fled and drove to the police station at the settlement of Ariel to file a complaint. After waiting two hours there, they were referred to the Israeli DCO to file a complaint and receive compensation for the damage. And the DCO? The officials there didn’t understand what the problem was and suggested ‘Awaisa complain to Mahmoud Abbas: “Why”, asked a police officer disparagingly, “does Abbas compensate me if you damage my car?”.

Abu Diya did not get his donkey back. ‘Awaisa paid 700 shekels to replace his windscreen, but the body of the car remains damaged. So does his pride.

Jihad ‘Awaisa

A-Lubban a-Sharqiyah, 4 February 2020: Settlers steal donkey and damage Palestinian car.

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