Kafr Malik, Ramallah District: Palestinians protesting against outpost driven out with gunfire by settlers and dispersed with stun grenades and tear gas by soldiers
On 18 December 2020, at around 11:00 A.M., about 60 residents of Kafr Malik held a demonstration against a new outpost that settlers set up in early November 2020 near the community of Ras a-Tin, which lies southeast of the village. The outpost occupants have been attacking and harassing farmers and shepherds in the area and scaring them off the land. The residents hold weekly protests in the area. On 4 December 2020, soldiers fatally shot ‘Ali Abu ‘Alia (14), while he watched a protest against the same outpost near his village, al-Mughayir.
This time, the residents gathered at a farm near Ras a-Tin and started marching towards the outpost, which lies about two kilometers away. Within minutes, two vehicles arrived and about eight masked settlers got out, carrying clubs. One of them fired several gunshots at the protesters.
The residents dispersed and moved away. At that point, a military jeep drove up and three soldiers got out. They tried to separate the settlers from the residents, but did not detain the settler who had fired the shots, although they saw him walking around with his gun drawn and residents informed them that he had fired at them.
Meanwhile, two other vehicles drew up with eight more settlers, who had two large dogs with them. Two of the settlers grabbed the dogs by the leash and ran towards the protesters, making threatening motions, while the soldiers tried to block their path. Several residents began throwing stones at the settlers to fend off the dogs. Later on, four other military jeeps drove up. Soldiers got out and started hurling stun grenades and firing tear gas canisters at the residents, until they drove them all out around midday.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Yusef Ka’abneh (28), a married father of four who owns a farm in the Ras a-Tin area, described the protest and the settlers’ attack:
Since a settler set up an outpost about two kilometers from our homes, he and his friends have been harassing us, grazing their flocks on our land and provoking us. He wears a skullcap (kippah) and I think he’s armed. A gang of criminals live with him – about eight to ten young guys in their twenties.
On the morning of 18 December 2020, I was grazing my flock about two kilometers from my farm when I saw the weekly protest procession heading there. I left the flock to graze and went quickly back to the farm, because I was afraid a confrontation would develop with the settlers and that my family would get hurt. The protesters were holding signs and waving Palestinian flags. Meanwhile, I saw two cars set out from the outpost in our direction. About eight settlers got out of it, holding clubs, and walked over until they were about 30 or 40 meters away from us. Three of them hid behind our tractor and one of them drew a gun, held it in both hands and started firing shot after shot. Thank God he didn’t hit anyone. Everyone ran and hid the moment the shooting started.
A few minutes later, soldiers showed up. They always come quickly to protect the settlers. The soldiers stood between us and the settlers. The settler was still holding his gun and didn’t seem to fear the soldiers. His friends tried to go round them and attack the protesters. Meanwhile, more settlers showed up, two of them leading large, scary dogs. They tried to chase the protesters and set their dogs on them, and the soldiers tried unsuccessfully to keep them away.
After another few minutes, back-up forces arrived and the soldiers started firing tear gas canisters at the protesters, who scattered quickly. Luckily, the wind was blowing in the opposite direction, so the gas didn’t reach my family and me. Meanwhile, more and more settlers kept arriving, and the military didn’t block their way.
Since that incident, we’ve been even more afraid of the settlers. We’re scared they’ll attack us at any time and we’re always on edge. These settlers are violent and extreme. They’ve attacked people in the area many times. I pray that Allah will protect us from their evil.