A-Shuyukh, Habron District: Settlers try to establish “mini-outpost” on farmland and violently drive Palestinians from their land
In another attempt to establish “facts on the ground”, settlers piled building materials on a plot of land belonging to the Hlaiqah family, set up a tent and stuck rods in the ground in preparation for a fence. On Monday morning, 6 April 2020, around 11:30 A.M., the family learned of the takeover attempt when they found the equipment. The 350-dunam plot [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] lies on the outskirts of a-Shuyukh, a Palestinian town not far from Hebron.
In 1983, the settlement of Asfar was established east of the town.
The family called about 50 relatives and other residents, who helped them uproot the rods and burn the tent. A few minutes later, about five settlers headed towards them, some bearing firearms and others tasers or pepper spray. The settlers, who had two dogs with them, shouted at the residents and tried to drive them away. When their demands were refused, one of them knocked Isma’il Hlaiqah (52) to the ground and one of the dogs bit him in the leg.
A few minutes later, another 15 or so settlers arrived, also carrying electroshock weapon and pepper spray, along with three dogs. The settlers set their dogs on the residents and a confrontation ensued with mutual stone-throwing. One settler attacked Nabil al-Mashani (41) and stunned him with a taser.
In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari, al-Mashani recounted what happened:
Before we managed to speak with them, they set the dogs on us. One of the settlers knocked Isma’il down. Then a dog bit him in the leg and he bled. I started hitting the dog to defend Isma’il and one of the settlers tased me in the chest.
After about half an hour of confrontation, some 20 soldiers arrived from the direction of Asfar. They started firing stun grenades and tear-gas canisters at residents and demanding they leave. The residents, some of whom were suffering from inhaling the gas, complied and continued to watch the plot from about one kilometer away.
Hlaiqah was rushed in a private car to the “Riham Dawabsheh” Governmental Hospital, where his leg was treated. He was later transferred to a medical clinic in Halhul and given a rabies shot.
The settlers and soldiers left the area and the residents returned home.
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.
A-Shalala Street, central Hebron: Dozens of settlers stone Palestinian homes in front of soldiers, one fires at home
On 17 May 2021, at around midday, dozens of settlers gathered on the rooftop of Beit Hadassah, a settlement in Hebron, and began throwing stones at Palestinian homes on a-Shalala Street and at their inhabitants. Soldiers who went up to the roof did nothing to stop the attack, while other soldiers entered a-Shalala Street and dispersed residents who had gathered there with stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets.
During the clashes, an armed settler fired live rounds at neighborhood resident Mahmoud Abu Hayah, who was standing on the roof of his home, but did not hit him. The incident was captured on video and posted on social media. Israeli police officers who came to the scene suggested Abu Hayah file a complaint and then left. The settlers continued throwing stones past midnight, but the soldiers remained and confronted residents on the street until morning.
In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari on 3 June 2021, Mahmoud Abu Hayah (42), a married father of five from the a-Shalala neighborhood, described the settlers' attack on his home and on other Palestinian homes:
I live in the center of a-Shalala Street with my wife Nirmin and our five children. My house is right next to the Beit Hadassah settlement. I work in construction in 'Anata. On 17 May 2021, at around midday, I was sitting at home with my wife and our two small children when settlers from Beit Hadassah started throwing stones at our house, at neighboring homes and towards the street.
I went outside and climbed up to the roof with my camera to film what was happening. I saw more than 15 settlers on the roof of the Beit Hadassah settlement. Most of them were adults, and they were throwing stones. I called out to two soldiers
who were standing at an observation post on the roof of an abandoned building that overlooks a-Shalala Street by my house and Beit Hadassah. I heard one of the soldiers at the post say, "Everything's fine. It's all good." The settlers kept throwing stones right in front of the soldiers. Meanwhile, about five soldiers went up to the roof where the settlers were standing. One of them saw me filming, waved a stun grenade in front of me threateningly, and then hurled the grenade at the street.
Several residents and area shop owners had gathered on the street and were shouting at the settlers. I stayed on the roof and continued filming. I screamed at the settlers to stop throwing stones, and they responded with curses and insults and kept on throwing stones.
At one point, I hid among the water tanks to shield myself from the stones. My two sons also came up to the roof and started filming and broadcasting what was happening on Facebook. I called out to a military officer who was standing on a nearby rooftop, "Do you like that?" and he replied, in Arabic, "Living in the moment. Good night."
At around midnight, I was with my neighbor on the roof when residents of Tel Rumeidah started yelling from their roofs, to protest against the settlers' attacks. Just then, I saw a settler standing on the roof of Beit Hadassah and talking to a teenager who was standing next to him. Then the teen left and came back quickly with an M-16 rifle, which he handed to the adult settler. The settler took the rifle and cocked it. I didn't expect him to shoot and thought he was just trying to scare me. But suddenly, he fired in my direction from about 10 meters away. I was lucky I wasn’t hit. Even so, I stayed on the roof.
The settlers continued throwing stones on and off until nightfall, and clashes broke out on our street between soldiers and Palestinian youths.
That night, we didn't sleep at all until the pre-dawn meal before fasting began.
In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari on 2 June 2021, Nirmin Abu Hayah (39), Mahmoud's wife and a volunteer with B'Tselem's camera project, recounted:
On 17 May 2021, at around midday, settlers from Beit Hadassah started throwing stones at our house and at neighboring homes on a-Shalala Street, including the house across the street from us.
There was nothing I could do but stand on the balcony and try to film them. At some point, the stones started hitting the roof and our window bars with such force that I closed the windows and backed away. The kids were terrified and started crying. I tried to calm them down, and then I suddenly heard gunshots that sounded really close.
I quickly climbed the stairs to the roof and started shouting, because I thought the settlers had shot my sons and husband who were up there. When I got there, my husband reassured me and told me they were fine and that the bullets had only hit the wall of the house. I begged my husband and sons to get off the roof so that they wouldn't get hurt, and they agreed. Meanwhile, a lot of soldiers and police officers arrived and one of the officers asked my husband to go file a complaint at the station. Then they left.
The settlers continued throwing stones at our house and at nearby houses until the meal before fasting began at around 3:00 A.M., and then they stopped. But the clashes with the soldiers continued until morning, and we could hear explosions and gunfire from the house.
My husband didn't file a complaint because of the attitude of the Israeli police. Every time we went to file a complaint in the past, we were forced to wait outside for a long time, and sometimes we weren't allowed in at all and had to give up.
Al-Janiyah, Ramallah District: Settlers damage irrigation system and trample crops
On 12 June 2021, around 3:30 P.M., about 10 masked settlers invaded farmland belonging to village resident Amjad Mazlum (45). Farmers working in the area notified Mazlum and other people, who came to the scene and chased the settlers out. After the settlers fled towards the outpost of Zayit Ra’anan, established about a kilometer north of the land, the farmers discovered they had damaged an irrigation pipeline that is hundreds of meters long and had trampled several cucumber crops in the plot.
Central Hebron: Soldiers assisted by settlers violently arrest young Palestinian man and assault residents in Jaber neighborhood
On 3 June 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., several soldiers arrested an 18-year-old Palestinian from the Jaber neighborhood in Hebron and beat him. During the violent arrest, four settlers arrived, three of them armed. The settlers took an active part in the young man’s arrest and prevented his family from approaching the scene.
Over the course of the incident, settlers pepper-sprayed three Palestinians in the face. At one point, after a Palestinian youth threw an empty glass bottle that hit a settlers in the arm without injuring him, some of the soldiers advanced while threatening neighborhood residents with their weapons. One even fired in the air, causing panic among the adults and children.
Several police officers arrived and began pushing the residents away. A Red Crescent ambulance called to the scene evacuated the victims of the pepper spray attack to the ‘Alia Governmental Hospital. The soldiers put the young man they had arrested into a military jeep, and then they and the settlers left.
‘Aref Jaber (46), a neighborhood resident and father of six, recounted:
I live in the Jaber neighborhood. I’m an activist with Human Rights Defenders and am constantly documenting violations by soldiers and settlers. On 3 June 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., I was at ‘Abed Dib Jaber’s shop, which is 30 meters south of my house, on the road leading to [the settlement of] Kiryat Arba.
A kid from the neighborhood came and told me that soldiers were beating a guy from the neighborhood by the military checkpoint that's in front of my house. I ran over there and started filming what was happening on my cellphone. I saw two soldiers trying to overpower our neighbor Wasim (18). I didn’t know why. Ofer Ohana was also standing there and filming on his phone. After two minutes, four armed settlers arrived, two of them armed with an M-16 rifle and one with a handgun.
I saw the soldiers violently assaulting Wasim and trying to handcuff him. They knocked him to the ground, and then one of them pressed his knee down on his neck. One of the settlers helped the soldiers and tried to grab Wasim's legs. The other three stopped Wasim’s relatives from coming closer. One of the armed settlers also had a pepper spray can, and he was threatening anyone who came near with it. Meanwhile, Wasim’s brother ‘Alaa (26) arrived and tried to help his brother. One of the settlers pepper-sprayed him in the face, and he fell down on the road.
At that point, one Palestinian threw an empty bottle at the settlers. Then I saw two soldiers cock their weapons and start acting hysterically, chasing residents who had come to help the guy and see what was happening. One of the soldiers fired a shot in the air, and I saw other soldiers trying to rein in another soldier who had cocked his weapon while chasing women and children. I tried to film what was happening on my phone. Then a settler pepper-sprayed me in the face.
After I was sprayed, I sat down on the road and screamed in pain. My whole face was burning. My wife and kids started pouring water and milk on it. Another neighbor took my phone and continued filming. A police car arrived, and two officers got out and started shoving people. Another troop of soldiers also arrived, and they helped the other soldiers handcuff Wasim. Wasim looked like he was suffocating from the pressure the soldier was applying with his knee. I saw Wasim’s mother and sisters crying and begging the soldiers to release him after they put him in the jeep.
At that point, the soldiers acted very violently towards all the women there. The soldier who had cocked his weapon pointed it from point-blank range at Suzan Jaber, a B’Tselem volunteer. I was afraid he would shoot her. Her son Mahmoud put his arm around her and led her away from the soldier into their yard. A neighbor of mine arrived and the settler pepper-sprayed him in the face, too. One of the residents called a Red Crescent ambulance that took Fawaz and ‘Alaa to hospital. I refused to go, because I was afraid the soldiers would come into my house and arrest my sons.
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.
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.
The settlement of Kochav Hashachar was established about two kilometers east of the land.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
A-Tuwani and Khirbet Sarurah, South Hebron Hills: Settlers torch pastureland and cave; soldiers escorting them fire at Palestinians who were trying to drive settlers away
On 22 May 2021, in the afternoon, several settlers from the outpost of Havat Ma’on attempted to torch pastureland belonging to the community of a-Tuwani. Residents of the village, accompanied by Israeli and international activists, went to the area to document the settlers’ actions. Several more masked settlers came to the scene and threw stones at the Palestinian residents in front of the soldiers. The latter ignored the settlers’ actions, but after the Palestinians tried to drive the settlers away from their land by throwing stones, the soldiers fired live rounds at the residents, forcing them to move away.
At the same time, several settlers came to the Khirbet Sarurah area, where they torched a cave in front of soldiers, which served as the club house for the Youth of Sumud movement, which has several young activists in the area. They also set fire to areas around the cave. The fire consumed several mattresses, a generator, and plastic chairs.
South Hebron Hills: Settler punctures car tires of Palestinian farmers and activists
In the morning hours of 22 May 2021, a family of farmers from the village of Um Lasafa in the South Hebron Hills went to their land near the community of She’b al-Batum in Masafer Yatta, accompanied by several Israeli and international activists. The settlement outpost of Mitzpe Yair was established about 800 away meters from the plots.
While the farmers worked their land, a settler arrived, roamed around the area, and then drew back towards the Mitzpe Yair outpost. The farmers and activists then discovered that the settler had punctured the tires of the two cars in which they arrived, one owned by the farmers and the other owned by one of the activists. They reported the incident to the Israel Police.
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.
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.
Soldier kills Husam 'Asayrah (19) during violent settler raid on village of 'Asirah al-Qibliyah
On 14 May 2021, settlers and soldiers came to the village in Nablus District. The settlers threw stones at homes and residents and fired in the air, and residents threw stones at them. The soldiers used force against the residents instead of distancing the settlers. After the party moved to a distant hilltop, a soldier shot and killed Husam 'Asirah and injured another resident although they posed no danger. Such collaboration between soldiers and settlers is part of Israel’s unofficial policy to drive Palestinians out and take over West Bank land.
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.
Routine in Hebron city center: Sexism, homophobia and harassment by settlers and soldiers: life’s routine in Hebron
Around 4:00 P.M on 13 May 2021, during 'Eid al-Fitr, about 10 settlers came up to the fence the military put up around the Palestinian neighborhood. They threw stones at Palestinian passersby on the street by the fence and at nearby homes, in full view of several soldiers who did nothing to stop them. Meanwhile, some 15 soldiers raided the Da'na family's home on the same street, claiming that a family member had thrown a stone from the roof. They searched the house, breaking a window and acting rudely. They also tried to prevent Mai Da'na, a volunteer with B'Tselem's camera distribution project who lives there, and her sister-in-law Manal al-Ja'bari, B'Tselem's field researcher in Hebron, from filming them, threatening to break the latter's camera.
After about an hour and a half, the soldiers left the house without making an arrest, and left the street without taking any action against the settlers, who continued to throw stones onto the street that same night, and throughout the following days. Settlers and soldiers also verbally harassed with homophobic and sexist slurs the Palestinians who documented their actions.
The neighborhood of al-Harika is located in the southern part of Hebron’s city center (Area H2), and is home to some 3,000 Palestinians. In 1972, the settlement of Kiryat Arba was built next to the neighborhood and now has a population of about 7,000. The proximity of the settlement means that al-Harika residents suffer constant harassment by settlers, who are protected by the military. The attacks include verbal abuse, stone throwing and other forms of physical assault, and intensify on weekends and Jewish holidays.
The Palestinian neighborhood and the Israeli settlement are separated by a 1.5-kilometer-long mesh fence. Settlers routinely stand behind the fence and throw stones at four residential buildings on the other side. The buildings are home to the extended Da’na family, which has about 200 members, including some 60 children. In response, some residents from the neighborhood throw stones back. The clashes invariably end with the military coming to the aid of the settlers, hurling stun grenades and tear gas canisters at the Palestinian homes. B’Tselem has also documented past incidents of verbal sexual harassment by settlers against Palestinian residents.
In addition to the settler attacks, al-Harika’s residents suffer military raids on the neighborhood almost every day, carried out ostensibly in search of stone throwers. The soldiers throw stun grenades and tear gas canisters in the streets, and sometimes into homes as well. They stop children on the streets and interrogate them about stone throwing. Soldiers also invade homes late at night, wake up families and question children about stone throwing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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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Israel’s regime of apartheid and occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end this regime, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.