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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.

May 2021

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Settlers armed with clubs approaching the spot. Photo courtesy of the farmers
Settlers armed with clubs approaching the spot. Photo courtesy of the farmers

Deir Jarir, Ramallah District: Settlers graze livestock in cultivated Palestinian fields and attack farmers in the presence of soldiers

In the days preceding the fighting in Gaza in May 2021, many Palestinian farmers in the West Bank avoided going to their cultivated land or grazing their flocks in open areas due to fear of escalating settler violence.

Deir Jarir farmers have long suffered from crop damage caused by settlers who graze herds of sheep and cattle in their cultivated fields. In early April 2021, the Israeli military evacuated an outpost established by settlers near cultivated plots belonging to village residents. The settlers from the outpost kept a flock of about 200 sheep and grazed it in the Palestinian farmers’ land. Shortly after the evacuation, the settlers returned, re-established the outpost on the same site, and continued grazing their flock in the fields and groves of Deir Jarir residents.

The settlers’ flock in a cultivated Palestinian area. Photo courtesy of the farmers
The settlers’ flock in a cultivated Palestinian area. Photo courtesy of the farmers

On 30 May 2021, some 10 days after the ceasefire was declared, about 10 elderly landowners from Deir Jarir decided to go to their land to check on the crops. Upon arrival, at around 5:00 P.M., the farmers encountered two settlers grazing their flock in the groves. The landowners approached the settlers and asked them to take their flock away, but they refused. After an argument that lasted about five minutes, several soldiers arrived. The farmers asked the soldiers to help them remove the settlers and their flock.

While the farmers were talking to the soldiers, cars with dozens of masked settlers carrying clubs, iron bars, and stones drove up. The settlers attacked the farmers, who were forced to flee the scene on foot, leaving their cars behind. During the attack, a settler pepper-sprayed an 80-year-old farmer, and other settlers smashed the windshields of three of the farmers’ cars.

Only after the settlers began vandalizing the cars did the soldiers remove them from the area, and the farmers could return and take their cars away.

One of the cars vandalized by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the farmers
One of the cars vandalized by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the farmers

The settlement of Kochav Hashachar was established about two kilometers east of the land.

On 7 April 2021, B’Tselem documented a settler attack on Israeli human rights activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman after he filmed them grazing their herds in cultivated Palestinian fields, about a kilometer north of the spot where the attack mentioned above occurred.

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One of the trees poisone by settlers. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem
One of the trees poisone by settlers. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B'Tselem

Sinjil, Ramallah District: Settlers poison all 80 of Palestinian family's 15-year-old olive trees

In the days prior to the fighting in Gaza in May 2021, many Palestinian farmers in the West Bank avoided going to their cultivated land and refrained from grazing their flocks in open areas due to the escalation in settler violence.

On 25 May 2021, Jarah Khalil (34) went to his olive grove for the first time in several weeks and discovered that settlers had poisoned all his trees. The grove, which lies about two kilometers north of the village, consisted of about 80 trees that were 15 years old.

The settlement of Shilo and the outposts of Giv’at Harel and Haro’eh were established about a kilometer from the grove.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 27 May 2021, Khalil described the poisoning of the olive trees and the resulting damage to his family:

My family owns seven dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] of land in the a-Rafeed area, about two kilometers north of the village. We had about 80 trees there, all of them 15 years old. They only recently started yielding a fair amount of fruit, and we extracted a tin of oil from every three to four trees. It’s part of our livelihood. We’re a family of five. Since my father died, I’ve been the only breadwinner because I’m the eldest.

About two months ago, a group of settlers built an outpost 50 meters away from our grove. One of them brought his whole family there and they raise livestock. During the latest round of incidents in early May, we stopped going to the land because we were afraid the settlers would attack us. On Tuesday afternoon, 25 May 2021, a farmer from the village went to his land, which is near our grove, and saw that our trees looked dry and burnt. He called me right away and I went over there quickly. When I got to the grove, I found more than half of the trees dried up and dead, and the rest drying up as well.

The state of the trees indicates deliberate poisoning, which is a method the settlers use. They destroyed all the mature olive trees, nearly 80 of them. There’s a military base overlooking the grove, about 500 meters away, but apparently no one stopped the settlers. We think the crime was carried out in two stages, the first about 20 days ago and the second 10 days ago, based on the extent of the trees’ dehydration.

I don’t think the trees will recover. Usually, with such poisoning, the toxins reach the roots and kill them, so there’s no chance that the trees will grow again. We put a lot of years of work into the groves and it all went down the drain because of the settlers’ crime. We dreamed and hoped that the trees would be another source of income to help us. Killing the trees was a cold-hearted act carried out by immoral people.

We didn’t file a complaint because there’s no reason to believe it would help. The Israeli police wouldn't take it seriously and bring the settlers to justice. But I reported the incident to the head of the village council, the Red Cross and several human rights organizations.

Maghayir al-‘Abid, Masafer Yatta: Three settlers stone shepherd and his flock

On 25 May 2021, ‘Iz a-Din Makhamreh was out grazing his family’s flock west of the community when suddenly, three settlers appeared and began throwing stones at him and at the flock. Makhamreh was hit by several stones and led the flock back home. Later that day, community residents discovered that settlers had stolen a bucket of water from the cistern on the pastureland.

The settlement outpost of Havat Ma’on was established about two kilometers northwest of the community.

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Settlers with cattle herd escorted by soldiers in Wadi Qana. Photo courtesy of farmers
Settlers with cattle herd escorted by soldiers in Wadi Qana. Photo courtesy of farmers

Wadi Qana, Salfit District: Settlers escorted by military lead herd of cattle through cultivated fields and attack farmers. Soldiers fire in the air, drive out farmers, and one attacks farmer

On Sunday, 23 May 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., about 15 settlers, escorted by about five soldiers, led a herd of some 60 cows from east to west through Wadi Qana, a fertile valley with cultivated farmland belonging to residents of Deir Istiya and other villages, which Israel is trying to take over.

Some farmers who were in the area noticed the settlers and alerted other farmers from Deir Istiya, who own citrus groves in the valley. After the cows began grazing on tree leaves, a verbal altercation developed between the farmers and the settlers and soldiers. As the altercation escalated, settlers attacked farmers with a club and pepper-spray. In addition, a soldier hit one of the farmers attacked by the settlers with his rifle butt. Meanwhile, more settlers and soldiers arrived, along with Israeli police officers. The soldiers fired in the air, detained the farmers, except for those requiring medical treatment, and blocked the entrance to the valley for Palestinians, allowing the settlers to continue leading the cows through it until they reached the other side in the evening hours.

אחת המכוניות שהשחיתו המתנחלים בוואדי קאנא
One of the cars the settlers vandalized by settlers in Wadi Qana. Photo courtesy of farmers

 

Three of the farmers required medical care at a hospital.

The military did not allow the other farmers to leave the area until late at night, at which point four of them discovered settlers had vandalized their cars. The windshields of two cars had been smashed and the tires of these and two other cars were damaged. The car owners had to use a tow truck to remove them from the area.

B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi collected testimonies from three of the farmers who were present, all residents of Deir Istiya:

In his testimony, Nassim Mansur (52), a father of five, recalled how a settler attacked him:

Nassim Mansur. Photo courtesy of witness

We were working the land, and other farmers were working in the plots next to us. Suddenly, a group of settlers showed up with their herd, and the cows started grazing on our land. We called residents to come and defend the land. The other farmers and I started driving the cows away from our land, and then one of the settlers hit me with a wooden club on my left arm. My arm hurt a lot, and I backed away from there. Later, the other farmers drove me to the hospital in Salfit, where it turned out that I had bruises and a torn tendon.

Bilal Mansur (46), a father of five, described in his testimony what unfolded when he arrived at the scene:

בילאל מנסור
Bilal Mansur. Photo courtesy of witness

At 6:30 P.M., one of the villagers called me and said that I needed to come to my land because settlers were grazing their herd there. My sons, Khader (21) and Islam (17), and I got into our car immediately and drove to the valley.

When we got there, we saw about 15 settlers, a military jeep, about five soldiers, and a herd of dozens of cattle head. I pulled over and we got out to check what was going on and why they were grazing their cattle there. But as soon as we went over, a settler armed with a club started attacking my two sons. I tried to defend them and fend him off, but another settler pepper-sprayed me in the face when I approached him. It burned a lot. I couldn’t see anything and had trouble breathing. The soldiers didn’t do anything to protect us, of course. They just fired in the air to drive us away.

I fell to the ground, and the residents who were there put me in their car and took me to the hospital. On the way, at the entrance to ‘Azzun, they transferred me to an ambulance, where there were two other farmers who’d been pepper-sprayed by the settlers. The ambulance took us to Darwish Nazal Hospital in Qalqiliyah.

Later that night, my sons returned to the valley with a tow truck and brought our car back from there, after the settlers smashed its windshield and punctured all of its tires.

In his testimony, Sai’d Zidan (65), head of the Deir Istiya council and father of four, recounted:

סעיד זידאן בבית החולים
Sai’d Zidan in the hospital. Photo courtesy of witness

When I got to the valley, I saw about 15 settlers, five soldiers, and a herd of about 60 cows who started grazing on the trees. The other farmers and I tried talking with the soldiers, but a settler with a club approached us and immediately attacked me, hitting me with the club on the shoulder. Another settler pepper-sprayed me in the face, even though the soldiers were standing around us. It was clear they were only there to protect the settlers. I fell to the ground and started screaming in pain. Then I managed to get to my feet and shouted at the soldiers. Then mutual shouting started between the soldiers and the farmers, who protested the soldiers and the settlers’ behavior, and one of the soldiers hit me on the head with his rifle butt. I felt dizzy and fell to the ground again. Meanwhile, more settlers, soldiers, and police officers arrived. The military closed off the area and prevented more farmers from accessing it. The settlers also pepper-sprayed other farmers, and we were all taken from there to hospitals.

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Wadi al-Hasin, central Hebron: Settlers invade neighborhood escorted by two soldiers, stone homes, open live fire and attack resident in his yard with pepper spray and large stone

At around 8:30 P.M. on 21 May 2021, about 20 settlers, some of them armed, invaded the Wadi al-Hasin neighborhood of central Hebron.  The settlers, who were escorted by two soldiers, wandered among the homes and some fired live shots. This is not the first time settlers have attacked the neighborhood, which is surrounded by a fence separating it from the settlement of Kiryat Arba. B’Tselem documented a previous attack that took place in June 2020.

In this case, the settlers entered a home belonging to the extended Abu S’eifan family. One pepper-sprayed Hisham Abu S’eifan (52), a father of six, in the face, and another threw a stone that hit him in the chest.

The next day, two armed settlers entered the neighborhood again, causing fresh panic, and left. Hisham Abu S’eifan went to the police station in Kiryat Arba and filed a complaint over his assault on 21 May 2021.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari, Hisham Abu S’eifan recounted:

We live with three of our children in our apartment, and my mother and brothers live next door. Our homes are right by the fence that separates us from the settlement of Kiryat Arba. The settlers attack us all the time, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.

The latest attack was on Friday, 21 May 2021, at around 8:30 P.M. I was sitting with my wife and kids when we heard shots. My wife ran to the window and said that setters were throwing stones at homes in the neighborhood. We went over to my mother’s house right away to make sure she was okay. Then my son Jamil (27) and I went back home and went out to the porch. We saw about 20 settlers, and some of them were shooting at houses. Residents were shouting “Allahu akbar” and some young guys from the neighborhood were throwing stones at the settlers. Suddenly, I saw the settlers go into our yard with two soldiers. We went outside and asked them to get out of the yard. I told them we had security cameras. One of the settlers kicked me in the leg. I pushed him and then he pepper-sprayed me in the face. Another settler threw a large stone at me, which hit me in the chest. It was very painful.

My face was burning and I found it hard to breathe. I fell down. Jamil helped me up and I washed my face with water, but the stinging and shortness of breath continued. My chest still hurt a lot.

 

Hisham’s brother, Jamal Abu S’eifan (50), who lives next door, also told B’Tselem what he recalled of that night:

I went out to the yard and saw a lot of settlers, some of them armed, attacking my brother Hisham’s house. There were two soldiers with them. The settlers were firing live shots at homes and residents were shouting “Allahu akbar”. Some of them were throwing stones at the settlers to get them away from the homes.

More soldiers arrived and made the settlers leave. I went over to Hisham’s house and saw him lying on the ground, screaming in pain. His son Jamil helped him get up and wash his face. Eight soldiers showed up, and one suggested that Hisham wash his face with milk. Then a Civil Administration official arrived and we told him what happened. He promised to take care of the matter and prevent the settlers from doing it again.

The soldiers left, but the settlers continued throwing stones at our homes from across the fence until about 10:00 P.M.

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An olive grove the settlers burned down. Photo courtesy of the village council
An olive grove the settlers burned down. Photo courtesy of the village council

Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers saw off neighborhood utility pole for the third time

On 16 May 2021, residents of the southeastern neighborhood of Jalud discovered that settlers had, for the third time, sawn off a utility pole installed by the village council and the Palestinian Electric company to supply electricity to neighborhood homes. The settlers also set fire to a nearby olive grove.

Settlers first uprooted a utility pole installed on the spot on 15 October 2020. On 3 April 2021, while workers were installing a new pole, settlers showed up again, some of them masked, sawed off the pole and attacked Walid Shweiki (71) after the workers fled.

The utility pole the settlers sawed off and burned. Photo courtesy of the village council
The utility pole the settlers sawed off and burned. Photo courtesy of the village council

 

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Burin, Nablus District: Settlers stone ‘Eid family’s home for third time in seven months

On 14 May 2021, at around 5:00 P.M., about 10 settlers, some of them masked, came to the ‘Eid family’s home. Some of them threw stones at the house, breaking two security cameras mounted on it. Soldiers who were escorting them fired tear gas canisters, live bullets and rubber-coated metal bullets at residents who came to defend the house. The attack lasted until around 7:00 P.M. Five village residents were injured by live fire and eight by rubber-coated metal bullets.

B’Tselem documented two recent settler attacks on the family’s home. On 4 May 2021, settlers stoned the house and soldiers escorting them fired tear gas canisters at residents who came to defend it. The soldiers also sent up flares, which started a fire in a nearby olive grove. Village residents and Palestinian firefighters put out the fire.

About seven months earlier, on 9 October 2020, settlers threw stones at the house. Soldiers escorting them fired tear gas canisters at residents, causing a boy who inhaled the gas to faint.

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Burin, Nablus District: Israeli settlers vandalize two Palestinian homes under construction while other settlers climb roof of family’s home and throw stones, causing damage

On Wednesday, 12 May 2021, some 20 settlers went with a military escort to two houses under construction, one belonging to Muntasser Mansur and the other to Muhammad ‘Eid and vandalized them. B’Tselem documented a previous attack on the Mansur house on 3 March 2021. At the same time, other settlers climbed onto the roof of the ‘Umran family’s home and threw stones at residents who came to defend it. Stones the settlers threw hit a car that was parked in front of the house, smashing its windshield and damaging the chassis, and broke two of the home’s windows. The settlers also damaged an air conditioner, vandalized TV cables and a sewer, and set fire to an olive grove, burning 10 olive trees that were one to 30 years old.

The soldiers escorting the settlers fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at residents who came to defend the home.

The shattered sunroof of the Abu ‘Awad family’s car. Photo courtesy of the family.
The shattered sunroof of the Abu ‘Awad family’s car. Photo courtesy of the family.

Beitin, Ramallah District: Settlers stone two Palestinian cars, shattering windows

On 12 May 2021, at around 9:30 P.M., Hani Abu ‘Awad (50), his wife Diaa’ (40) and their son Muhammad (17) drove from their home in the village of Beitin to Ramallah, to buy groceries for the holiday of ‘Eid al-Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan). When they reached the junction between the village and the road that leads to the settlement of Beit El, which lies about 200 meters from the DCO Checkpoint, about 10 settlers began throwing stones at their vehicle, hitting the chassis and shattering the sunroof. Another car driving behind them was also attacked by stones, which shattered its windshield. 

Abu ‘Awad was afraid to turn the car around and asked his son to take the wheel to do it. Meanwhile, he got out and started throwing stones at the settlers in order to make drive them away. Passengers of other cars joined him and threw stones at the settlers, who fled the scene. 

Minutes later, a military jeep arrived and the soldiers called the Israel Police. The police officers collected statements from the owners of the two damaged vehicles, detained two settlers on suspicion of involvement in the attack and asked Abu ‘Awad to identify them. They suggested he and the other car owner file a complaint at the Binyamin police station, as Abu ‘Awad did the following day.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Abu ‘Awad described the attack: 

About 10 young settlers with kippahs (yarmulkes), long side curls and tzitzits (knotted shirt fringes) started throwing stones at us from far away and ran towards us. We were terrified and my wife started screaming. One stone fell on the car’s glass sunroof and smashed it. Luckily it was closed, otherwise the stone would have fallen into the car. 

I tried to make a U-turn, but another villager’s car was right behind me and I was afraid I’d hit it if I turned around. So I got out of the car, asked my son Muhammad to turn it around and started throwing stones at the settlers to make them leave. My wife shouted at me not to do it, because she knew they might be armed and was afraid they’d hurt me. 

Muhammad turned our car around and the car behind us also started turning around. Several villagers arrived and also started throwing stones, and then the settlers ran away. It lasted between a few seconds to a minute. After the settlers ran off, I went back to my car and discovered that in addition to the smashing the sunroof, some stones had also damaged the chassis. The windshield of the car behind me was smashed. Thank God we weren’t hit by the stones. They could’ve killed us. 

About five minutes later, a military jeep arrived. We complained to the soldiers and they led us to the lot near the DCO Checkpoint and called the police, who arrived 15 minutes later. The officers collected statements from me and from the owner of the car that was behind us. 

Meanwhile, the officers brought in two settlers suspected of involvement in the attack. The officers asked me to identify them and I did, because they’d been very close to me during the incident. At 10:30 P.M., when they finished the investigation, the officers suggested we file a complaint at the police station. The next morning, I went there and filed a complaint. Instead of preparing for the holiday, I had to deal with the settlers’ violent attack. The damage they caused us will amount to several thousand shekels.

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A damaged tent. Photo courtesy of the family
A damaged tent. Photo courtesy of the family

The al-Fajam (‘Aqraba) community, Nablus District: Settlers vandalize residential tents and livestock enclosure

On 11 May 2021, Ahmad Bani Jaber (34), a father of seven, and his family returned home from a visit at ‘Aqraba to find that settlers had vandalized two of their tents. One had served as a home and the other as a livestock enclosure.

‘Abd a-Nasser Dmeidi after his nose was bandaged.
‘Abd a-Nasser Dmeidi after his nose was bandaged.

Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers attack villager sitting in his doorway with stones and clubs, breaking his nose

On Tuesday, 11 May 2021, at around 7:00 P.M., settlers attacked ‘Abd a-Nasser Dmeidi (50), a father of two, with stones and clubs while he was sitting in the doorway of his home on the edge of the town, about 200 meters from the main road (Route 60). Dmeidi was taken to Rafidia Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a nasal fracture.

In March 2021, settlers stoned another home in the town belonging to the Dmeidi family. Residents of Huwarah have been suffering from repeated settler attacks on their homes. They, as well other Palestinians who pass by the settlement of Yitzhar on Route 60, have been suffering from repeated settler attacks on their vehicles.

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Central Hebron: Teens from Beit Hadassah settlement stone Palestinian cars and pedestrians and swear at them

On 8 May 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., Israeli teenagers came from the settlement of Beit Hadassah to a-Shalala Street in central Hebron and climbed onto the rooftops of houses and of a bank. From there, they threw stones at the protective net that covers the street, frightened passers-by and swore at them. Soldiers at a military post there did not intervene despite requests by Palestinian residents. Only after the teens crossed the street and started throwing stones directly at vehicles and pedestrians, and after residents began throwing stones back at them, about eight soldiers came over and gently removed the settlers.

The stones the settlers threw hit an area shop owner in the leg and struck two vehicles, smashing the windshield in one and a headlight in the other.

In February 2021, during the Jewish holiday of Purim, B’Tselem documented settlers from Beit Hadassah throwing objects at a nearby house and cursing the inhabitants.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash, the shop owner described the incident:

I was standing at the entrance to my shop when I saw a lot of settlers, most of them young, standing on the rooftops of stores on a-Shalala Street. They were swearing at passers-by and throwing stones. Soldiers who were in a military post a few meters away didn’t say a thing to them. It lasted more than 10 minutes. Neighborhood residents went to the soldiers and demanded they intervene, but they did nothing.

Some of the settlers moved to the roof of a bank across the street. From there, they continued to throw stones at people passing by below and at cars parked there. I was hit in the leg by a stone and then went inside my shop, so I wouldn’t get hurt. Only after a few minutes, about eight to ten soldiers arrived and made the settlers leave.

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.

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Mahmoud Hamamdeh with this flock. Photo by Nasser Nawaj'ah, 2 June 2021
Mahmoud Hamamdeh with this flock. Photo by Nasser Nawaj'ah, 2 June 2021

Khirbet al-Mufaqarah, Masafer Yatta: Settlers stone Palestinian shepherd, injuring his hand

On 6 May 2021, at around 6:00 A.M., Mahmoud Hamamdeh (56), a resident of Khirbet al-Mufaqarah in the Masafer Yatta area of the South Hebron Hills, took his flock out to graze as he does every morning, west of the community. In 2002, the settlement outpost of Avigail was established next to a spring about 400 meters from the pastureland. 

Hamamdeh noticed settlers bathing in the spring. About 15 minutes later, as he made his way further into the pastureland with the flock, five masked settlers attacked him and the sheep with stones. 

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj’ah, Hamamdeh recounted:

I tried to defend myself and my flock, which is our only source of livelihood, but they kept on throwing stones at us for about 15 minutes. One of the stones hit me in the hand and it was extremely painful. In the end, I managed to get home with the flock and from there, I went to a clinic to check my wrist. 

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Burin, Nablus District: Settlers torch grove and stone Palestinian home; soldiers fire tear gas at residents who come to defend the home

On the night of 4 May 2021, three fires broke out near the village of Burin.

At around 10:30 P.M., a fire broke out on the eastern outskirts of the village, spreading upwards towards the settlement outpost of Givat Ronen. That night, B’Tselem tweeted a photo of the fire along with initial information from the field. The military and settlers claimed that Palestinians had set the fire, which they had worked to put out. Village residents claimed that settlers had done it. B’Tselem cannot ascertain who was responsible for the arson.

Attempted torching on the southern side of Burin

At around 11:00 P.M., settlers came to an area on the southern side of the village, about 500 meters away from the bypass road that serves the settlement of Yitzhar. Akram ‘Umran (52), a father of seven, saw several settlers roaming on his private land. They set fire to an olive grove, it quickly died out as the soil had been plowed. The settlers fled to a car that was waiting for them on the bypass road. ‘Umran stayed on the land until morning along with other villagers he had called, in order to make sure the settlers did not return.

In a video testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, ‘Umran recounted that night:

 

 

‘Abdallah ‘Issa (35), a father of seven, went to a plot he owns next to ‘Umran’s after he heard settlers were in the vicinity. He stayed on guard on the land all night, for fear they would come back. The day before, settlers had vandalized his crops and farming equipment, cutting the irrigation pipes and plastic covers of his greenhouses, spilling fertilizer and damaging the crops. ‘Issa found a kippah (yarmulke) one of the settlers left behind.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, ‘Issa stated:

On Tuesday morning, 4 May 2021, at 7:00 A.M., I went to my land as usual to harvest the crops. I had 10 days left to pick the zucchini, tomatoes and lettuce I planted this February. But when I got there, I discovered that settlers had damaged some of the irrigation pipes and crops. They’d also spilled the fertilizer and cut parts of the greenhouses’ plastic sheeting. I felt helpless. I couldn’t hold back and started crying. I’d taken out loans to build the greenhouses and buy the equipment and seedlings. When I walked around to assess the damage, I found a kippah lying on one of the seedlings.

While I was building the greenhouses, the settlement guard came and threatened me that if I didn’t dismantle them, he’d do it himself. I will never forget his words.

The day I discovered the damage, I was with my family in the evening when a village resident named Ahmad called and told me that settlers were trying to torch the greenhouses and that I had to come quickly. I drove over right away with my brother. My headlights were pointing at the greenhouse and I saw Ahmad. I also saw three or four headlights in the plot next to mine. I ran immediately towards the greenhouses. The settlers ran towards the road, and Ahmad and some other young guys tried to chase after them, but I called them back because I was afraid they’d be attacked. The settlers ran towards the bypass road and on the way, tried to set fire to a field, but it went out immediately because the soil had been plowed.

Settlers attack Ghadah and Ibrahim ‘Eid’s home and soldiers cause fire

At around 11:30 P.M., several settlers arrived at the northeastern side of the village. They attacked the home of Ghadah (46) and Ibrahim (50) ‘Eid, parents of eight who live about 1.5 kilometers from the settlement outpost of Givat Ronen. The settlers began throwing stones at the family’s home. Soldiers arrived and fired tear gas canisters at residents who came to defend it. The soldiers also sent up flares, some of which started a fire in an olive grove, which village residents and Palestinian firefighters put out.

The 'Eid family suffered gas inhalation, and one resident who had come to their aid was hit in the shoulder by a stone the settlers threw. He was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus and discharged after undergoing X-rays.

B’Tselem documented a previous military-backed settler attack on the ‘Eid family home on 9 October 2020.

In her testimony, Ghadah ‘Eid described the moments of the attack:

At around 11:30 P.M., I was at home with my husband and our kids. Suddenly, I heard clattering on the roof. I quickly checked the security camera screen and saw several settlers. Since the shooting at the Za’atrah Checkpoint, I’ve been expecting settler attacks. They always attack us and take revenge on us when something happens to settlers or to the military somewhere in the West Bank.

I told everyone to draw the blinds and lock the doors. The sound of the stones was so loud, it sounded like an earthquake was toppling the house. The stones hit the walls and the roof. When they hit the iron gate, it made a tremendous noise. We live like we’re in a prison, with metal mesh covering all of our windows.

My daughter Nur (12) became terrified and anxious. She couldn’t stop shaking and crying. I moved with her and Muhammad (7) from room to room, but no room felt safe. I started shouting and calling out to neighbors to help us, because the settlers usually leave when they see other residents coming.

The attack lasted between 10 to 15 minutes, and then the settlers left. Soldiers who came with them fired tear gas canisters and sent up flares, which started a fire about 50 to 100 meters away from the house.

The smell of gas was everywhere. I sliced some onions and handed them out to my children. My son ‘Abd a-Rahman (13) has sinusitis, and the tear gas affects him particularly badly. His face got very red and he had trouble breathing. I set up his inhalation machine to help him breathe.

After the settlers left, we started checking around the house. We found several flowerpots broken. We didn’t dare go up to the roof to check there, because we were afraid the settlers and soldiers hadn’t gone very far and would come back to attack us. We only fell asleep at 4:00 A.M. When we woke up, we went up to the roof and found that the settlers had broken four projectors.

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THE WINDSHIELD SMASHED BY THE SETTLERS.
THE WINDSHIELD SMASHED BY THE SETTLERS.

Huwarah-Jit Road: Settlers stone Palestinian cars, fracturing one driver’s shoulder

On 3 May 2021, at around 11:30 P.M., three friends from the village of Far’on were traveling home after driving a friend to the village of Far’ata, south of Nablus. On their way back, as they passed by the Huwara-Jit Road (Route 60), near which the settlement of Yitzhar was established, a settler threw a stone at their car, shattering the windshield and hitting the driver, ‘Abd al-Latif Badir (30), in the shoulder.

The car swerved and grazed the guardrail, but Badir managed to stop it by the roadside. His friends called an ambulance and the Palestinian police and notified the Palestinian DCO. A Red Crescent ambulance and a military jeep arrived about 15 minutes later. The soldiers spoke with the ambulance driver, but not with Badir or his friends.

Badir was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he was X-rayed and diagnosed with a shoulder fracture. He was discharged on 9 May 2021 and does not recall the incident.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi on 5 May 2021, Badir’s friend, A.A., described what happened that night:

I invited my friend from Far’ata to the Iftar dinner. He’s an engineer and is overseeing the construction of my home. I also invited two friends from the village, ‘Abdallah Badir and Usayed ‘Omar. At night, we drove my friend back to Far’ata in the new Volkswagen Passat that ‘Abdallah bought a few months ago. On the way back, when we were near the settlement of Yitzhar, I was in the passenger seat and Abdallah was driving, when I saw a stone flying at us. I ducked and yelled to ‘Abdallah to watch out. He was hit in the shoulder. The car swerved right and left before ‘Abdallah finally managed to bring it to a halt, after grazing the guardrail. Usayed and I got out of the car and called the police and a Palestinian ambulance. We also called the Palestinian DCO. A Red Crescent ambulance and a military jeep arrived. The soldiers spoke with the medical crew but didn’t speak to us at all. The ambulance took ‘Abdallah to hospital in Nablus and I went with him. Usayed and some people who came to help him drove ‘Abdallah’s car to the village of Burin.

Muhammad Salman after the assault
Muhammad Salman after the assault

Far’ata, Qalqiliyah District: Settlers stone 73-year-old farmer and wound him in the head

On 3 May 2021, at around 6:30 A.M., farmer Muhammad Salman (73), a father of 16, arrived at his land – 55 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] that lie east of the village. Salman, who goes there twice a day, led his flock to nearby pastureland and checked on his olive trees. At around 9:00 A.M., Salman noticed two settlers who had come from the direction of the adjacent settlement of Givat Ronen. They were standing about 25 meters away and started throwing stones at him.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi on the day of the incident, Salman described being attacked by the settlers:

I was terrified because there were no other farmers in the area. I started moving away from them, but one stone hit me in the head from behind. I felt dizzy and started bleeding from my head. I hid for a few minutes behind the tall grass until the settlers drew back towards the settlement. Then I led the flock back toward the village, about a kilometer away. My sons took me to the clinic in the nearby village of Immatin. From there, I was transferred to the Darwish Nazal Hospital in Qalqiliyah to have my head X-rayed. The X-ray showed no skull fractures, and I was discharged with orders to rest.

I was stunned by the settlers’ attack. I’m in my land every day and they see me there, but it’s the first time they’ve attacked me.

April 2021

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Ibrahim Hamduni after the attack
Ibrahim Hamduni after the attack

Imreihah, Jenin District: Settlers assault and severely beat farmer (65) with clubs

On 29 April 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., Ibrahim Hamduni (65), a married father of eight, took his cows and sheep to graze south of his village, Imreihah, in Jenin District. The settlement of Mevo Dotan was established about three kilometers west of the pastureland, and the settlement of Hermesh was established about two kilometers west of it. 

At around 8:00, a settler arrived with a flock of sheep and called another settler to come. The two assaulted Hamduni with wooden clubs and beat him all over his body, including his head. Hamduni managed to get away and fled the area with this flock, bleeding from the head. The settlers drew back toward Mevo Dotan.  

After he had gone some distance, Hamduni called his son, who came to meet him and helped him walk home. From there, the son drove him to hospital in Jenin, where Hamduni was examined and X-rayed and had three head wounds stitched. He was also bruised all over his body from the blows.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi on 29 April 2021, Ibrahim Hamduni recounted being attacked by settlers: 

On Thursday, 29 April 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., I went out to pasture as usual with my five cows and three sheep. I take them to graze them in the valley south of our village, Imreihah, where there’s grass throughout the season.   

After I got there, a settler I know arrived. He grazes his flock in the same area. He came over to me and asked, “What are you doing here?” I told him I was grazing my cows and sheep on our land as I always do. He called someone and then another settler came, whom I’ve also seen with a herd in this area.  

The two settlers started hitting me on the head, chest and legs with clubs. My head and face started bleeding and my ribs hurt. I was there alone and had no way to defend myself. I managed to run away despite the pain and bleeding, and led my cows and sheep away.   

I saw that the two settlers move away towards the settlement of Dotan. I called my son Fuad and asked him to meet me and help me walk, because of the pain in my chest and head. I went towards the village and Fuad met me on the way. I leaned on him, and we kept walking until we got home at around 8:30 A.M.  

When we got there, my wife and the rest of my family were shocked to see me bleeding from my head. It was a sweltering day and I was fasting. My sons wiped the blood from my face and head, and Fuad took me in his car to the hospital in Jenin to have me tested and make sure that I wasn’t injured. I had severe pain in my head, legs, back and chest.  

The settlers’ violence is meant to scare us away from going to the pastureland, so they can take over the land.

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Slogans spray-painted by setters on the walls of the agricultural structure
Slogans spray-painted by setters on the walls of the agricultural structure

Qusrah, Nablus District: Settlers uproot seedlings, pry off door of agricultural structure and spray-paint it

On 28 April 2021, Fathallah Abu Raidah (60), a resident of Qusrah in Nablus District, discovered that settlers had uprooted seedlings he had planted on his land south of the village. The settlers also spray-painted the slogans “Am Israel Chai (Israel Lives),” Muhammad is a pig” and “Revenge” on the walls of an agricultural structure in the plot, in addition to prying off its door.

The residents of Qusrah and of neighboring villages have been suffering from repeated attacks by settlers against them and against their property. The settlement of Migdalim was established northeast of Qusrah, several hundred meters away from the plot in question. The settlement outposts of Esh Kodesh and Ahiya were established about 1.5 kilometers south of the village.

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Beit Iksa, al-Quds District: Settlers torch residents’ cars for second time this year and spray hate slogan

On the night of 27 April 2021, at around 9:30 P.M., residents of Beit Iksa noticed that a fire had broken out by the locked gate that Israel has installed on the road leading from the village to Jerusalem via the neighborhood of Ramot. As many of the villagers have East Jerusalem residency, since the gate was put up in 2010 they have been forced to park their cars on the other side of it to avoid traveling to Jerusalem through Ramallah and the Qalandiya Checkpoint, which lengthens the journey by at least half an hour.

When the residents went to the spot, they discovered settlers had set fire to cars parked on the other side of the gate. Two of the cars had burned down entirely and one was partially burnt. Another car the settlers had tried to torch did not catch fire. The residents found the slogan “Jews, let’s win, TikTok” sprayed on the road.

Settlers torched two cars belonging to a village resident a month earlier, on 19 March. On both occasions, the Palestinian firetrucks were greatly delayed as the military demands prior coordination to allow passage through the checkpoint at the second entrance to the village. The Israeli firefighters arrived sooner, along with Israel police, military and Border Police forces, but the latter prevented them from getting near enough to put the fire out. The police officers collected statements from the car owners and from several residents.

The Palestinian village of Beit Iksa lies northwest of Jerusalem, within the West Bank but outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. In 2010, the military put up a permanent checkpoint at the only entrance into the village. Since then, Israeli security forces have only allowed people registered as village residents or bearing a special permit to enter the village.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 28 April 2021, H.H. recounted how the settlers torched the cars and security forces held Israeli firetrucks back:

On Tuesday evening, 27 April 2021, I was sitting with friends in the doorway of my house. The house lies on the outskirts of Beit Iksa, overlooking the area where Israel closed off the old road to Jerusalem that runs through the settlement of Ramot.

At around 9:30 P.M., I saw a flash of fire and something catching fire near the gate. I assumed it was a car, because Jerusalem residents who live in Beit Iksa park there. I grabbed a fire extinguisher and headed there with my friends in my car. It took us less than two minutes.

When we got there, I saw a group of settlers in the act of setting fire to other Palestinian cars parked there. One of them, who was masked, was spraying graffiti on the road. I was later told that it said, “Jews, let’s win, TikTok.” There were about 10 other setters waiting near the gate. Some of them were masked. When we got closer, we yelled at them and they ran away through the groves and dirt road towards Ramot.

We focused on putting out the fire and didn’t try to chase them. Two cars were going up in flames. The rear of another car was on fire, so we worked on putting that out with the extinguisher. They’d poured gas on another car and lit it, but it hadn’t caught fire.

We notified the Palestinian and Israeli fire departments, and called village residents to come with fire extinguishers. Two of the cars were still ablaze and we used branches and poured dirt on them to try and put them out, but it didn’t work.

Within 5 to 10 minutes, two Israeli firetrucks and an ambulance arrived along with several military, Israel Police and Border Police jeeps. They all parked on the Ramot side. The Border Police officers stopped the firetrucks from going ahead because the Palestinian fire squad can’t enter without coordination. It took them about 45 minutes to get to the fire, and by then it had consumed the two cars.

In a testimony he gave field researcher Iyad Hadad on 28 April 2021, Muhammad Kiswani (27), a father of two from Jerusalem who lives in Beit Iksa, described the torching of his car:

At around 10:00 P.M., I was at work in Jerusalem when my family called and told me that settlers had torched two cars parked near the western gate. One of them was my other car. I drove over within 20 minutes.

When I got there, the police held me back until they realized I had a car there, and then they let me through on foot. By the time I arrived, my car and another car had burned down and the fire was out.

There were slogans in Hebrew on the road.

The burning of my car caused me financial damage and emotional distress. It cost me NIS 6,000 (~1,836 USD). I work at a restaurant to support my family. Having a second car made things a lot easier, because it meant I could travel inside the village and leave it outside the locked gate. It allowed me to avoid taking the bypass road through Qalandiya Checkpoint, Ramallah and the villages northwest of Jerusalem. That’s a 40 or 50 km trip that takes a long time because of the constant traffic jams at Qalandiya, where you can get stuck for 30 minutes to two hours.

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