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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.

December 2020

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Wadi a-Rahim, South Hebron Hills, Photo: Comet
Wadi a-Rahim, South Hebron Hills, Photo: Comet

Wadi a-Rahim, South Hebron Hills: Settlers beat local residents, fire in the air and try to take over their lands

On the morning of 18 December 2020, Muhammad al-Harini, 54, a father of seven from Yatta, was grazing his flock with his father, Khalil, 78, who lives in the community of Wadi a-Rahim in the South Hebron Hills, on family land adjacent to the community’s home. The land stretches over some 400 dunams.

While the two were out in the pastureland, about 20 settlers appeared, some with firearms, others with bats. They demanded the two leave the area and threatened them. One of the settlers pushed Khalil al-Harini, knocking him over. His son Muhammad called B’Tselem’s field researcher, who alerted the police. Moments later, a military vehicle, a police car and a Civil Administration officer arrived. The latter told both the landowners and the settlers they were not permitted at the site and everyone left.

The next morning, Muhammad al-Harini returned to the family land with four other relatives to plow. Having plowed about 20 dunams, they saw about 20 settlers approaching and decided to leave and return to the community to avoid a dangerous encounter.

Driving away the locals was not enough for the settlers who followed them up to a distance of about 20 meters from the community’s homes. The family blocked their path. The settlers threatened them, attacked four community residents, injuring one, a 17-year-old boy, in the ear with a stone. One settler fired several shots. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The frightened family members called B’Tselem’s researcher again. He alerted the police, which arrived a few minutes later, with a  military jeep escort. The settlers then ran off.

A police officer took a statement from the boy who had been injured, and his relatives drove him to Abu al-Hassan Hospital in Yatta, where he was diagnosed with an injury to the auditory canal and ossicle.

In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash, Muhammad al-Harini spoke about the second settler attack on his family:

On Saturday 19 December 2020, I went to our land, which is near the houses in the community, with my brother ‘Amer, 38, and his three sons, Mahmoud, 17, ‘Ali, 20, and Saqer, 19, to plow the fields. We had plowed about 20 dunams and then saw settlers heading towards us. We didn’t want an altercation, so we went back to the family home in the community.

The settlers followed us up to the houses and stopped at a distance of about 20 meters. They started threatening us and tried to advance further. We went out and tried to block them. There were more than 20 settlers there with handguns, rifles, bats and crowbars. I saw my nephew, ‘Ali, 20, filming the incident on his phone. A settler approached him and hit him in the face with his handgun. Mahmoud, 17, tried to break them up, and the same settler hit him in the left ear with a stone he had in his other hand. Mahmoud’s ear started bleeding and he lost his balance.

My brother ‘Amer and I went over to them, and then one of the settlers kicked me in the back and another threw a stone that hit me in the arm. Another settler kicked ‘Amer in the chest and knee. We fought them for about half an hour, throwing stones at them to drive them off. One of the settlers fired about ten shots with his handgun. I called Nasser Nawaj’ah from B'Tselem and asked him to call the police, and a few minutes later some military vehicles and a police car arrived. That’s when the settlers ran off.

We went to our land. The police officers and soldiers were there, and a settler, whom we know by the name of Ya’aKov, came with another female settler. The officers spoke with them and told us  to go home. Ya’aKov brought a tractor driver with him who started plowing the same plot we had plowed that morning. He was filming the tractor as it was plowing. The officers and soldiers did nothing.

Mahmoud’s ear was hurting, and after a police officer took his statement, I drove him to the Abu al-Hassan government hospital in Yatta. He was examined and x-rayed and it turned out his auditory canal and nerve had been hurt. The doctor cleaned the blood from his ear and referred him to an ear, nose and throat specialist. He has been seeing a specialist in Yatta ever since.

On Sunday, 21 December 2020, the settler Ya’aKov, came to our land in an ATV and deliberately drove over plowed fields we’d already planted in. We saw him from inside our homes, but we chose not to get into an altercation with the settlers. They are armed criminals who are backed up by the military and police which arrested none of them when they attacked us.

The settlement of Susiya was established in 1983 1.5 kilometers southeast of Wadi a-Rahim.

Kafr Malik, Ramallah District: Palestinians protesting against outpost driven out with gunfire by settlers and dispersed with stun grenades and tear gas by soldiers

On 18 December 2020, at around 11:00 A.M., about 60 residents of Kafr Malik held a demonstration against a new outpost that settlers set up in early November 2020 near the community of Ras a-Tin, which lies southeast of the village. The outpost occupants have been attacking and harassing farmers and shepherds in the area and scaring them off the land. The residents hold weekly protests in the area. On 4 December 2020, soldiers fatally shot ‘Ali Abu ‘Alia (14), while he watched a protest against the same outpost near his village, al-Mughayir.

This time, the residents gathered at a farm near Ras a-Tin and started marching towards the outpost, which lies about two kilometers away. Within minutes, two vehicles arrived and about eight masked settlers got out, carrying clubs. One of them fired several gunshots at the protesters.

The residents dispersed and moved away. At that point, a military jeep drove up and three soldiers got out. They tried to separate the settlers from the residents, but did not detain the settler who had fired the shots, although they saw him walking around with his gun drawn and residents informed them that he had fired at them. 

Meanwhile, two other vehicles drew up with eight more settlers, who had two large dogs with them. Two of the settlers grabbed the dogs by the leash and ran towards the protesters, making threatening motions, while the soldiers tried to block their path. Several residents began throwing stones at the settlers to fend off the dogs. Later on, four other military jeeps drove up. Soldiers got out and started hurling stun grenades and firing tear gas canisters at the residents, until they drove them all out around midday.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Yusef Ka’abneh (28), a married father of four who owns a farm in the Ras a-Tin area, described the protest and the settlers’ attack:

Since a settler set up an outpost about two kilometers from our homes, he and his friends have been harassing us, grazing their flocks on our land and provoking us. He wears a skullcap (kippah) and I think he’s armed. A gang of criminals live with him – about eight to ten young guys in their twenties.

On the morning of 18 December 2020, I was grazing my flock about two kilometers from my farm when I saw the weekly protest procession heading there. I left the flock to graze and went quickly back to the farm, because I was afraid a confrontation would develop with the settlers and that my family would get hurt. The protesters were holding signs and waving Palestinian flags. Meanwhile, I saw two cars set out from the outpost in our direction. About eight settlers got out of it, holding clubs, and walked over until they were about 30 or 40 meters away from us. Three of them hid behind our tractor and one of them drew a gun, held it in both hands and started firing shot after shot. Thank God he didn’t hit anyone. Everyone ran and hid the moment the shooting started.

A few minutes later, soldiers showed up. They always come quickly to protect the settlers. The soldiers stood between us and the settlers. The settler was still holding his gun and didn’t seem to fear the soldiers. His friends tried to go round them and attack the protesters. Meanwhile, more settlers showed up, two of them leading large, scary dogs. They tried to chase the protesters and set their dogs on them, and the soldiers tried unsuccessfully to keep them away.

After another few minutes, back-up forces arrived and the soldiers started firing tear gas canisters at the protesters, who scattered quickly. Luckily, the wind was blowing in the opposite direction, so the gas didn’t reach my family and me. Meanwhile, more and more settlers kept arriving, and the military didn’t block their way.
Since that incident, we’ve been even more afraid of the settlers. We’re scared they’ll attack us at any time and we’re always on edge. These settlers are violent and extreme. They’ve attacked people in the area many times. I pray that Allah will protect us from their evil.

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 Khirbet al-Markez in Masafer Yata. Photo by Oren Ziv, Activestills
Khirbet al-Markez in Masafer Yata. Photo by Oren Ziv, Activestills

Masafer Yatta: Settlers violently invaded Palestinian communities, allegedly looking for stolen sheep. They threatened and assaulted two residents and left with the sheep

For three days, settlers from the outpost of Mitzpe Yair repeatedly invaded five Palestinian communities in Masafer Yatta. The five marauding settlers, who are known to the communities, entered their homes and livestock pens to allegedly search for stolen sheep. The settlers shouted at the residents and threatened them. In two cases, they physically assaulted them, breaking one resident’s tooth. On the third day, the settlers claimed to have found the stolen sheep in a livestock pen in one of the communities. The Israeli police allowed the settlers to take about 10 sheep. 

The settlers’ domineering behavior continued the next day, when one of them went to the She’b al-Batem area and drove out a farmer who was grazing his flock. 

The evening of 17 December 2020: Settlers invade the community of Khirbet Bir al-‘Eid

Five settlers came to the community and claimed to be looking for stolen sheep. They placed boulders on the road leading to the community’s homes and blocked the residents’ way. When one resident tried to drive through with a tractor, one settler pulled out a gun and threatened him. The driver had no choice but to turn back and take another route.

18 December 2020, 1:30 A.M.: Settlers invade the community of She’b al-Batem, wake residents, threaten them and kick one

The next morning, five settlers came to the community of She’b al-Batem. A settler known to the residents as "Yosef" and another settler approached the home of 'Ali Jibrin (64), a father of 11. When Jibrin heard them and opened the door, "Yosef" began shouting at him, kicking his legs, and threatening to “make trouble for him” if he didn't divulge the sheep's whereabouts. Jibrin tried to explain that he didn't know where the sheep were, but the settler continued shouting and pushed Jibrin’s young children, who had woken up from the commotion and come to their father. At that point, Jibrin’s brother, who lives next door, reported the incident to the police. The settlers stayed near the family’s doorstep for about 20 minutes and then moved on to the home of his brother, Ismail Jibrin (53), a father of six. They shouted at him and threatened him, and left about 10 minutes later.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash, ‘Ali Jibrin described how the settler known as “Yosef” threatened and assaulted him:

At around 1:30 A.M., I woke up to loud sounds of people near the entrance of our home. I went over to the door and saw two people. That night we didn’t have electricity, but one of the settlers had a flashlight, and I recognized him: he grazes his flock in the area, and his name is “Yosef.”

Suddenly, without us even talking, the settler kicked me very hard in the left leg and yelled at me in Arabic, “Where are my sheep?” I asked him which sheep he meant, and he said, “You stole my sheep!” I asked him if he’d seen me stealing them, and he said no, but that he wanted to know who had stolen his sheep.

At that moment, my four children, the eldest of whom is 16, woke up and came over to me. The settler shoved them and yelled at them to stay back. Even though he’d attacked my children and me, I tried to stay calm and not confront them, because then I would’ve been arrested. I asked my eldest son Amin (15) to run to my brother Ismail’s house and ask him to call the Israeli police. “Yosef” said he’d go to Ismail’s house himself.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash, Ismail Jibrin recalled how the settlers also came to his house, entered it by force and threatened him:

I was woken by shouting from my brother ‘Ali’s house. Someone was shouting that he was crazy and wanted to make trouble. I recognized that it was the voice of a settler named “Yosef” who grazes his flock in the area. Everyone knows him around here. I called the Israeli police and told them what was happening, and they promised to come quickly.

I waited about 20 minutes. I didn’t know what the settler wanted from ‘Ali. In the end, I saw him leave ‘Ali’s home and come towards my house with another young settler. Both of them came into my home. I tried to stop them, but they pushed me and went inside anyway.

My whole family woke up, and the kids were scared. That night we didn’t have electricity. We use solar planes to generate electricity.

“Yosef” came up me and yelled that he was crazy and had come to make trouble, and that he wanted to know who’d stolen his sheep. I tried to calm him down, but he pushed me a few times and kept yelling at me. They left about 10 minutes later.

18 December 2020, 4:30 A.M.: Settlers invade the community of Khirbet al-Markez, assault resident, drag him to their car and question him

A few hours later, at around 4:30 A.M., five settlers drove up in three vehicles to the Hushiyeh family home in the community of Khirbet al-Markez.  Samira Hushiyeh (66) got up for dawn prayers and when she heard the settlers, she woke her son ‘Omar Hushiyeh (37), a father of three. When he opened the front door, one of the settlers punched him in the face, and another hit him in the arm with a gun butt. Two settlers dragged ‘Omar out of the house and knocked him to the ground. His mother Samira, his wife Najah (28) and their three children began crying and tried to leave the house to help ‘Omar, but the settlers who had stayed behind closed the door forcefully and blocked it.

The settlers dragged ‘Omar to one of their vehicles and questioned him about the sheep that they claimed had been stolen from them. About an hour later, the settlers released him and moved several meters away from the house, and the family managed to get out. ‘Omar’s lips were bleeding and one of his teeth was broken. The settlers stayed in the area and observed the community until the late morning hours. 

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash, Samira Hushiyeh, a married mother of 13, spoke about the settlers’ invasion:

I woke up at 4:30 A.M. to prepare for dawn prayers, and heard noises and the sounds of car engine near my home. At first, I thought it was the cars of laborers going to work or military vehicles. I woke my son ‘Omar and his wife, who were sleeping in the next room, and told them what I’d heard. ‘Omar told me not to turn the lights on and tried to calm me down.

I looked out the window and saw five people going to the sheep’s pen. They had flashlights and the headlights of their cars were also on. I understood they were settlers by their white clothes. I turned on the lights so they’d understand there were people home. I was afraid they’d hurt our sheep.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash, Samira’s daughter-in-law, Najah Hushiyeh (28), a mother of three, described the settlers’ invasion and the attack on her husband:

My mother-in-law woke us up and turned the lights on a few minutes later. Then, I heard people at the door and someone asking in Arabic, “Where’s the master of the house?” ‘Omar got up and went to the door, and I followed. I realized they were settlers by their clothes. I was terrified and stood behind my mother-in-law.

When ‘Omar opened the door, one of them punched him in the face, and the other hit him in the elbow with a gun butt and pulled him out of the house. He stopped us from going after ‘Omar and closed the door. I was shaking and screaming, and our three children woke up and started crying, too. My mother-in-law tried to open the door, but one of the settlers was holding it from the other side and wouldn’t let her open it. She yelled, “Where’s ‘Omar?” My mother-in-law, my children and I stayed trapped in  the house for about an hour.

In her testimony, Samira Hushiyeh further recounted:

About an hour later, I managed to leave the house. I couldn’t see ‘Omar and was afraid they’d done something to him. I asked one of the settlers who was standing next to the cars what they’d done to my son, and he answered in Arabic that he’d be back soon. I calmed down a little. I was standing behind the house when suddenly, I saw ‘Omar get out of one of the cars. His lips were bleeding. I went back inside with him and saw that one of his teeth was broken from the punch he got earlier. I understood from ‘Omar that after they forced him out of the house, they dragged him to their car and questioned him about sheep stolen from Mitzpe Yair. He told them he had nothing to do with it and knew nothing about it.

18 December 2020, 9:30 A.M.: Settlers invade the community of Khirbet al Fakhit and roam among livestock pens

At around 9:30 A.M., the settlers moved on to the community of Khirbet al Fakhit, where they entered livestock pens and roamed them for about half an hour until leaving empty-handed.
 
19 December 2020, afternoon: Settlers invade the community of Khirbet a-Safai al-Foqa, where they allegedly locate the stolen sheep

The next afternoon, about 50 settlers, some armed with rifles and others leading attack dogs, came to the community of Khirbet a-Safai al-Foqa. They entered the community’s livestock pens and searched for the sheep they alleged had been stolen from them. An argument developed between the settlers and the residents, including mutual shoving. About an hour later, dozens of soldiers and Border Police officers, a police car and Civil Administration personnel arrived. The settlers told the police they had found their sheep in one of the community’s pens, and the officers allowed them to take the sheep. Then everyone left.

A few days later, the resident in whose pen the sheep were allegedly found was summoned to by the police, interrogated and released without charges.

20 December 2020, 10:30 A.M.: Settlers attack a shepherd in the She’b al-Batem area

The day after the settlers invaded Khirbet a-Safai al-Foqa, ‘Issa Jibrin (44), a father of seven, was out grazing his flock about a kilometer from his home in the community of She’b al-Batem. At around 10:30 A.M., the settler known as “Yosef” from Mitzpe Yair arrived and started hitting the sheep and scattering them with a stick. The sheep scattered in alarm. When Jibrin tried to stand in front of the settler to prevent him from attacking the flock, the settler pushed him and then called for back-up. About 20 minutes later, two more settlers appeared and also started to drive Jibrin’s flock out. Jibrin moved away with his sheep and returned home.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash, ‘Issa Jibrin related:

When the settler called “Yosef” started hitting my sheep, I stood in front of him to stop him from hurting them. He came up to me and pushed me, and then phoned somebody, probably to call for back-up. I didn’t want to confront them and preferred to just leave. I walked away with the flock and left the three settlers there. I saw them talking and pointing at me, and I was afraid they’d follow me and attack me, so I walked quickly until I got home.

I usually stay in the pastureland with the flock until the afternoon, but that day I was back by 11:00 A.M.  
 
Everyone in Masafer Yatta knows this settler, “Yosef”, because he often grazes his flock near our homes and bothers us. The Israeli police officers know him, too.

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A shattered windshield in ‘Aref Jaber’s car, al-Baq’ah, 11 Dec. 2020. Photo by Human Rights Defenders
A shattered windshield in ‘Aref Jaber’s car, al-Baq’ah, 11 Dec. 2020. Photo by Human Rights Defenders

East of Hebron: Settlers invade private plot and build structure; when the owner arrives, settlers attack his car and smash windshield and headlights

On Friday, 11 December 2020, ‘Aref Jaber (46), a married father of six from Hebron, went to his plot, which lies east of the city, along with several residents and activists to protest against a structure settlers had set up there. The neighborhood of Giv’at Harsina in the settlement of Kiryat Arba was established about a kilometer from the plot.

The structure settlers set up on ‘Aref Jaber’s plot, 11 Dec. 2020. Photo by Human Rights Defenders

While Jaber, the residents, and the activists were in the plot, seven settlers arrived, some of them armed. One of the settlers fired two shots in the air. Four others began throwing stones at Jaber’s car from several meters away, smashing its rear windshield and headlights. Jaber and his companions were forced to leave the area for fear of being harmed as well.

On Sunday, 20 December 2020, Jaber filed a complaint about the assault at the police station in Kiryat Arba and fixed his car at a cost of 500 shekels (~158 USD). A few days later, Jaber went to his land with the activists, and together they dismantled the settlers’ structure.

Jaber’s land stretches over 25 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters], not far from the village of al-Baq’ah.

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A mutilated olive tree in Yasuf, 5 Dec. 2020. Photo by head of village council
A mutilated olive tree in Yasuf, 5 Dec. 2020. Photo by head of village council

Yasuf, Nablus District: At the end of harvest season, settlers cut down 42 yielding olive trees

On Saturday morning, 5 December 2020, members of the ‘Atyani family – farmers from the village of Yasuf – discovered that settlers had cut down 42 of the 104 olive trees growing on their plot, which stretches over six dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] of land southeast of the village.

The Israeli military permits the family to enter the plot only after coordinating the visit with the Civil Administration, which allows them access only during the plowing and harvest seasons. However, family members routinely go to the grove without prior coordination to tend to needs such as pruning and fertilizing after the harvest.

The day after the family discovered the mutilated trees, they went to the grove with the head of the local council and representatives of the Palestinian ministry of agriculture, who were asked to assess the damage. When they reached their plot, they noticed three settlers inside it who then fled the scene.

The settlement of Rehelim was established in 1991 about two kilometers from the olive grove.

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The Yasin family’s plot, Yasuf, 3 Dec. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B'Tselem
The Yasin family’s plot, Yasuf, 3 Dec. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B'Tselem

Yasuf, Nablus District: Settler cut chain-link fence, invade plot and uproot dozens of olive seedlings

On Thursday morning, 3 December 2020, ‘Abdallah Yasin (28) discovered that settlers had cut the chain-link fence he and his family had put up around their plot to protect it from settlers and wild animals. The fence did not deter the invaders from breaking into the plot and uprooting 58 olive seedlings planted earlier this year. Yasin notified his family, the village council and the Israel Police of the incident.

About an hour after reporting the damage, Yasin went to the plot with his father ‘Ali (71). A police car, Civil Administration personnel and a military jeep also arrived and witnessed the damage to the family’s property.

The Yasin family’s plot lies northeast of the town of Yasuf. The settlement of Tapuach was established about 200 meters away from it.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, ‘Ali Yasin recounted the incident:

We used the coronavirus and lockdown period to tend to the soil. We went to the plot often to water the seedlings, until the rainy season started and we didn’t have to. We put up a chain-link fence supported by iron rods, a meter and a half high, to protect the crops from settlers and wild animals. Despite the fence, settlers invaded our plot and uprooted 45 of the 93 olive seedlings we planted this February. They also uprooted 13 of 15 seedlings in my brother Shaher’s plot. We haven’t been to the grove since the rain started in October, and my son only went back now to check on the seedlings.

An hour after we found the fence destroyed and the seedlings uprooted, a police car arrived, followed by people from the Civil Administration and a military jeep. The soldier asked us if we had any enemies. I said that didn’t make sense because the settlement’s security cameras overlook the plot, so why not check the footage? It’s completely ridiculous, and they obviously  know very well who did this. They said they’d call me if they found anything new, but I haven’t heard from them. I know everything they do is just for show, and the investigation by the authorities will lead nowhere. 

November 2020

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A toilet broken by settlers on Rajeh Jbarah’s land, Turmusaya, 27 Nov. 2020. Photo by Sai’d ‘Abdallah
A toilet broken by settlers on Rajeh Jbarah’s land, Turmusaya, 27 Nov. 2020. Photo by Sai’d ‘Abdallah

Turmusaya, Ramallah District: For the second time in a month – settlers vandalize vineyard and cause heavy damage to nearby plot

On 27 November 2020, for the second time that month, settlers broke into a vineyard owned by Nidal Rabi’ (68), a father of three from Turmusaya. They cut down some 250 vines and vandalized the vineyard’s perimeter fence and its irrigation system.

The settlers also broke into a neighboring plot belonging to Rajeh Jbarah (55), a father of 10, where they vandalized a garden and a swimming pool. The settlers broke tiles and a toilet in the bathrooms and in the pool, cut the garden’s perimeter fence, and cut down seven olive trees.

The landowners reported the damage to the Israel Police, who arrived the same day and photographed the scene.

a-Sawiyah, Nablus District: Settlers steal from plant nursery for fifth time since it opened in 2019

Muhammad Mahamid (29), a father of two from a-Sawiyah, Nablus District, has a plant nursery by Route 60, at the entrance to the village. On 27 November 2020, at around 2:00 A.M., before going to bed, he checked the nursery’s security camera and saw people loading seedlings onto a car. According to Mahamid, settlers had broken into the nursery and stolen items four times prior to that, most recently in early November.

Mahamid got into his car and sped to the nursery, where he rammed into the settlers’ parked car. The settlers got out and fled towards the settlement of Rehelim, which lies about a kilometer and a half from the nursery.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Mahamid described the night of the last break-in:

While I was getting ready to go to bed, I checked the nursery’s security cameras on my mobile phone. I was shocked when I saw people loading seedlings onto a car! I went crazy.

I couldn’t bear the thought of the theft. It wasn’t the first time settlers broke into the nursery. I ran out in shorts, and my wife came after me and handed me long pants. I put them on in the car, because I wanted to catch the thieves this time or else I’d go mad. I drove quickly and got to the nursery in three minutes.

Their car was still parked by the entrance. All I wanted was to catch them, so I ran into their car – so that they couldn’t get away. My head hit the steering wheel and I couldn’t see anything, but I still got out of the car and tried to catch them. Unfortunately, they managed to run towards the settlement of Rehelim, which is about a kilometer and a half from there.

Mahamid called the Israel Police and about 15 minutes later, police officers arrived along with 10 military jeeps. They photographed the scene and collected the settlers’ fingerprints. A few hours later, the officers drove Mahamid to the Ariel police station, where he gave a statement and was released.

In his testimony, Mahamid added:

The last theft, on November 1, ruined me. They weren’t content with stealing from the nursery itself but stole the entire contents of my store – including drinks, chocolate, cigarettes and ice cream.

I can’t take anymore losses. I want to live, make a living and support my family. I don’t want trouble with anyone – Palestinians or settlers. I wasn’t looking to confront them, but I had no choice because it’s my property, which is my family’s only source of income.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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