Bidyah, Salfit District: Settlers stone Palestinians out strolling, fire shots nearby and threaten to kill villagers who dare return
Majdi ‘Issa and I.A. from Bidyah wanted to go for a stroll in an open area that locals use for leisure and picnics. The area, known as Khallet Hassan and Khalayel Bidyah, lies about a kilometer and a half north of the village.
On the evening of 30 June 2020, at around 8:00 P.M., the two men, who are in their fifties, drove into the area. About seven armed settlers who were there started approaching the car from some 70 meters away. When they were about 50 meters away, the settlers started firing shots in the air. As the car is not equipped for off-road driving, the two men left it and tried to escape on foot.
The settlers chased 'Issa and I.A., firing shots in the air and at the ground by their feet. They caught up with their victims after about 100 meters and started beating them. When one of the settlers put a gun to ‘Issa’s head and the latter tried to push it away, he fired a shot near his ear. The settlers asked the two men what they were doing there and what they do for a living, and then grabbed them by the shirts and led them forcefully back to the car. On the way, one of the settlers fired several shots close to the two men. Before the settlers left, they warned the two to never come back and ordered them to spread the word in the village: settlers will shoot any Palestinian who dares visit Khallet Hassan and Khalayel Bidyah.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, I.A. described the incident:
My friend, Dr. Majdi ‘Issa, and I went for a walk in the area of Khallet Hassan and Khalayel Bidyah, which is about five minutes from our village. There’s a beautiful view there and it's relaxing. We always go for strolls there to get away from our daily worries and enjoy nature. Suddenly, we came across about seven settlers. Some of them were carrying automatic rifles or handguns.
The settlers headed towards us and started shooting in the air. We were petrified. Majdi tried reversing the car to get out of there but he couldn’t, because of the rough terrain. We had no choice but get out and run for it. I was wearing slippers and they fell off, so I had to run barefoot. The settlers chased us, firing in the air and at the ground near us, until they managed to grab us. I was sure I was going to die.
Three settlers grabbed me and started beating and kicking me. Then they dragged me back to our car, which was about 100 meters away, hitting me all over my body as they went. Another settler grabbed Majdi and fired a shot near his head, as well as shots that passed close to my head and body.
Majdi ‘Issa gave his account of the incident to B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi:
The settlers attacked us and punched us all over our bodies, especially my friend I.A.. One of them held a gun to my head. I pushed his hand away and he fired a shot right next to my ear, to scare me.
I tried talking to them, but they ignored me. One of them asked what we were doing there. I said we'd come for a walk to enjoy nature. He asked me if I worked with the Palestinian police, and I replied that I was a university lecturer and my friend a businessman. He told us we were lying and ordered us to raise our shirts to check if we had any weapons. The settler with the gun said that the land wasn’t ours and belonged to the Jews.
Before they let us go, they threatened to kill us if we ever came back. The settler ordered me to tell the residents of Bidyah not to visit the land because he’d kill anyone who went there, since it's Jewish land. Then they let us get into our car and drive back to the village.
‘Issa and I.A. drove to the village clinic. I.A. was then taken by ambulance to the Arab Hospital in Nablus, where he was examined and discharged after several hours.