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From the field

While millions of people in Israel and the West Bank are under lockdown, state-backed settler violence continues unabated. Settlers are attacking Palestinian shepherds in pastureland and entering villages, attacking residents and destroying their property. Despite the coronavirus crisis, the escalated violence has continued in recent weeks.

September 2021


al-Mufaqarah, Masafer Yatta: Another expulsion attempt - Settlers raid Kh. al-Mufaqarah, attack villagers, crack toddler’s skull, and cause heavy property damage

On 29 Aug. 2021, dozens of settlers raided the community of al-Mufaqarah, stoned residents and homes, and damaged property. The attack, one of the most severe recalled by residents, injured several villagers, including a toddler whose skull was fractured. Soldiers who came to the scene fired tear gas canisters at community residents, many of whom suffered gas inhalation. Only after an hour did the settlers leave the area and move to the nearby village of a-Tuwani, where they attacked a house with stones and injured residents trying to defend it. In the past year, settler attacks in Safar Yatta have intensified, as part of Israel's policy of expelling Palestinians and taking over their lands. Read more. View photo blog

July 2021

Paramedics treating Mufdi Rab’i, who was lightly injured in the head by a stone thrown by settlers. Photo by Youth of Sumud
Paramedics treating Mufdi Rab’i, who was lightly injured in the head by a stone thrown by settlers. Photo by Youth of Sumud

A-Tuwani, Masafer Yatta: Settlers stone Palestinian home, injuring resident lightly in the head

On Saturday afternoon, 24 July 2021, settlers arrived with a military escort from the direction of the Givat Ma’on outpost and stoned the home of the Rab’i family in the village. One member of the family was injured lightly in the head and was treated on the spot by a Palestinian Red Crescent crew who were called to the village. Only after village residents gathered near the home and tried to fend off the settlers by throwing stones, did the soldiers drive them away while firing tear gas at the residents.

The residents of a-Tuwani, like other communities in the Masafer Yatta area, are repeatedly attacked by settlers and soldiers as part of Israel’s routine harassment of Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, and in Masafer Yatta in particular, in its bid to expel them from their homes and area of residence.

June 2021


A-Tuwani and al-Mufaqarah, South Hebron Hills: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack Palestinians with stones and sticks and torch agricultural structure; soldiers fire live rounds and tear gas at the Palestinians

On Saturday, 26 June 2021, some 20 settlers invaded the village of a-Tuwani, stoned residents and beat some with sticks, injuring one. Soldiers then escorted the settlers to other communities. A settler fired at Palestinians and several others torched an agricultural structure of an a-Tuwani resident and damaged his olive grove. After the settlers retreated, other soldiers arrived and fired live fire and tear gas at the Palestinians and their homes. This is life for Masafer Yatta residents, whom Israel works to expel from their land.

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Homes in the village of a-Tuwani. Photos: Omri Eran-Vardi, 15 Jan. 2021
Homes in the village of a-Tuwani. Photos: Omri Eran-Vardi, 15 Jan. 2021

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Settler grazing flock in cultivated Palestinian field summons other settlers who attack farmers and their homes

On Saturday, 19 June 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., a settler led his flock into Jum’ah Rab’i’s (48) barley field. When he noticed Rab’i, who was also grazing his flock in the area, he summoned about ten other settlers who arrived, masked, from the direction of the Havat Ma’on outpost and attacked Rab’i with stones in front of several soldiers. Rab’i was forced to move away from the area, and when a number of villagers joined him, the settlers threw stones at them as well.

After about half an hour, the settlers left, but returned half an hour later and stoned the house of Jum’ah’s brother, Amjad Rab’I (38), and his wife Liqyah (32). The settlers injured Liqyah Rab’i, who was standing on her rooftop, and Amjad’s mother, Fatmeh Rab’i (72), who was sitting in the yard and could not escape as she is paralyzed. They smashed the sun boiler panels on the roof of the house and broke several branches of olive trees in the surrounding land. When they saw young men from the village approaching to defend the family’s home, the settlers fled. A Red Crescent ambulance came to the scene and its crew provided first aid to the injured women.

The settlement of Ma’on and the outpost of Havat Ma’on were established about 500 meters and about 200 meters from the Rab’i family’s home, respectively.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari on 28 June 2021, Liqyah Rab’i (32), a married mother of four from a-Tuwani, described the attack on her home:

I live with my husband Amjad (38) and our four children, aged eight months to 10, in a-Tuwani. The settlers attack our home so often that our children’s mental health is suffering. They wet the bed at night and have anxieties. They also refuse to sleep in their own rooms and insist on sleeping with my husband and me. They wake up a lot at night, crying and repeating what the settlers call out.

On Saturday, 19 June 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., I was standing outside the house when I saw about 10 masked settlers throwing stones with slingshots at my neighbors, in full view of about five soldiers who were in the area. The attack lasted about half an hour. At the same time, I saw setters grazing their sheep on another neighbor’s land.

After about half an hour, the settlers left. I went inside to make breakfast, but suddenly heard voices outside. I quickly went up to the roof with my brother-in-law (16) to understand what was going on. We saw about 10 masked settlers coming towards us. They started showering us with stones.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law, who’s partially paralyzed, was sitting on a chair in the yard. I tried to climb down off the roof to take her inside, but I couldn’t because of the number of stones they were throwing at us. It lasted about 10 minutes, and Musa and I were unable to escape from the roof. We started screaming for help. Meanwhile, a large stone hit me in the right shoulder and I felt a sharp pain. My shoulder is still bruised, swollen and sore.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari, Liqyah’s mother-in-law, Fatmeh Rab’i (72), recounted how the settlers injured her:

On Friday, 19 June 2021, at around 8:00 A.M., I was sitting on a chair in my yard when suddenly, I heard my daughter-in-law shouting from the roof, “Auntie, Auntie.” She asked me to run inside, but I’ve been paralyzed since a heart attack I had seven years ago and can’t walk. I leaned on another chair in the yard and tried to hide behind a tree. It protected me from some of the stones that were flying in my direction, but one of them hit me in the right thigh and it hurt a lot.

About 10 minutes later, young guys from the village started coming towards the house to defend us, and the settlers ran away. Then an ambulance arrived to take me away, but I refused to go to hospital because I was afraid the settlers would attack again. The settlers came back in the evening and wandered throughout village land until late at night.

The settlers attack us all the time, especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays. It’s been going on like this for 16 years, but lately the attacks have intensified. They were especially intense during the war in Gaza, in the final days of Ramadan.

May 2021


A-Tuwani and Khirbet Sarurah, South Hebron Hills: Settlers torch pastureland and cave; soldiers escorting them fire at Palestinians who were trying to drive settlers away

On 22 May 2021, in the afternoon, several settlers from the outpost of Havat Ma’on attempted to torch pastureland belonging to the community of a-Tuwani. Residents of the village, accompanied by Israeli and international activists, went to the area to document the settlers’ actions. Several more masked settlers came to the scene and threw stones at the Palestinian residents in front of the soldiers. The latter ignored the settlers’ actions, but after the Palestinians tried to drive the settlers away from their land by throwing stones, the soldiers fired live rounds at the residents, forcing them to move away.

At the same time, several settlers came to the Khirbet Sarurah area, where they torched a cave in front of soldiers, which served as the club house for the Youth of Sumud movement, which has several young activists in the area. They also set fire to areas around the cave. The fire consumed several mattresses, a generator, and plastic chairs.

The activist’s head wound. Photo by Emily Glick
The activist’s head wound. Photo by Emily Glick

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Settlers attack international activists escorting Palestinian teen to well; police detain activists for questioning and military issues two a restraining order from the West Bank

On 13 May 2021, in the afternoon, two American activists drove a Palestinian teen from the community of Khirbet Bir al-‘Eid to a well in the area in their car. Masked settlers who came to the scene tried to drive them away, shouted at them, and attacked the activists with sticks. The settlers also smashed the car’s windows and one of its mirrors, broke the activists’ cameras, and stole one of their cell phones. One activist (73) was hit in the head, arm, and back.

The activists and the teen fled the scene and called the police. A police officer who met them at a nearby intersection at around 6:00 P.M. informed one activist who was present at the scene and another, who was not, that they had to go to the police station in Kiryat Arba. Upon arrival, the two were interrogated on suspicion of assaulting the settlers. They then received restraining orders barring them from the West Bank for 15 days and were banned from contacting those involved in the incident for a month. After each signed a NIS 5,000 (~1540 USD) bail, the two activists were released around 4:00 A.M.

Settlers and soldiers in wooded area near a-Tuwani.
Settlers and soldiers in wooded area near a-Tuwani.

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Settlers stone Palestinian home; soldiers fire tear gas and stun grenades at residents defending it

On Saturday, 8 May 2021, residents of a-Tuwani noticed settlers approaching a home on the eastern outskirts of the village. The Havat Ma’on outpost was established several hundred meters away from the house. The settlers hid in a wooded area nearby, emerging every time to  throw stones at the house and returning to hide among the trees. Village residents came to the area to defend the house and its occupants, and tried to keep the settlers at bay by throwing stones.

The residents called the Israel Police, and officers arrived at the scene along with four soldiers. Meanwhile, another 10 settlers or so showed up and began throwing stones at the residents. The soldiers joined the attack, hurling stun grenades and firing tear gas canisters at the residents, some of whom suffered gas inhalation and were forced to flee. Later, the settlers and the soldiers also left the area.

April 2021


A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Dozens of settlers invade village land and attack Palestinian farmers and Israeli activists; soldiers fire tear-gas canisters at the farmers

On Saturday morning, 24 April 2021, five settlers came from the direction of the Havat Maon outpost to farmland belonging a-Tuwani residents in the South Hebron Hills. The settlers climbed into a cistern belonging to an area resident and swam in it. The landowner and two other residents who were grazing their flocks in the area asked the settlers to get out of the cistern, as the water is meant for drinking. The settlers got out and walked towards the outpost. 

About an hour later, four of the settlers returned along with four other settlers and tried to get into the cistern. When the landowner asked them to leave, an argument ensued. Meanwhile, dozens of settlers arrived, some of them masked and armed. The landowner and the farmers fled towards Khirbet a-Rakeez and al-Mufaqarah. 

The settlers chased them and threw stones at them for about a kilometer. On the way, they also threw stones at other farmers and shattered most of the windows in five parked cars belonging to farmers. 

The settlers attacked about five Israeli activists who had been called to the area and were filming the incident. The settlers assaulted them with sticks and stones and opened fire twice. 

At around midday, while the settlers were attacking the farmers and the activists, two military jeeps drove up. Two soldiers got out and watched the attack without assisting the victims. At one point, they fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades at the farmers, who were forced to flee the area.  

After the farmers left and a police car arrived, the settlers went back towards the outpost. The police officers left without taking any action.

February 2021


A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Settlers uproot dozens of two-year-old olive seedlings

On Sunday, 7 February 2021, in the evening hours, Saber Rab’i (50), a resident of Yatta, arrived at his plot and discovered that settlers had uprooted some 20 two-year-old olive seedlings. Rab’i’s plot lies several hundred meters west of the village of a-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills.  

The settlement outpost of Havat Ma’on was established a few meters from the plot. 

June 2020

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.

March 2020


A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Settlers invade village property and in ensuing confrontation, soldiers fire tear gas and arrest 3 residents

On 28 March 2020, three residents of a-Tuwani passed southwest of the Havat Ma’on outpost on their way to Khirbet-a-Tuba. When they were about two kilometers from their village, settlers attacked them with stones. The three ran back towards the village calling residents, who met them halfway there. The residents and the settlers threw stones at each other. About a half an hour later, soldiers arrived and dispersed the crowd. 

Around an hour later, several settlers approached the area of al-Humrah, south of a-Tuwani, which belongs to village residents. A-Tuwani residents came to drive them out and mutual stone-throwing ensued. Soldiers arrived at the scene and fired tear-gas canisters at the residents, who were on their own property, and arrested three of them. Two of the detainees were released the next day, after one had to post a bond of 1,000 NIS (~280 USD). The third is still in custody. 

א-תוואני, דרום הר חברון,  28.3.20: מתנחלים פלשו לשטח בבעלות תושבי הכפר.

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills, 28 March 2020: Settlers invade village property and in ensuing confrontation, soldiers fire tear gas and arrest 3 residents.


A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Armed settlers set dogs on shepherd

On Friday afternoon, 27 March 2020, a resident of a-Tuwani was grazing his flock between the village and the Havat Ma’on outpost. About six settlers arrived, some of them armed, along with two dogs, and tried to drive him away. The shepherd called other residents, who began documenting the attack.  

A verbal argument ensued that quickly turned physical. One of the settlers pushed a resident who was filming the incident, knocking him to the ground. A dog then bit him in the arm and abdomen, and the settlers stole his phone and fled. The resident was taken by ambulance to a medical clinic in Yatta, where he was treated and given a rabies shot.

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills, 27 March 2020: Armed settlers set dogs on shepherd.

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills, 27 March 2020: Armed settlers set dogs on shepherd.


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