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From the field

Shooting, assaulting, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at cars and homes, raiding villages, torching structures and fields, vandalizing property and crops: settlers exercise harsh daily violence against Palestinians, with state support, to drive them out of their land. Launched in early 2020, this blog gives voice to the people exposed to this violence. Background on the topic

January 2021

Hala Qut, who was hit in the face by a stone settlers threw at her, Madama, 17 Jan. 2021. Photo: Qut family
Hala Qut, who was hit in the face by a stone settlers threw at her, Madama, 17 Jan. 2021. Photo: Qut family

Madama, Nablus District: Settlers invade village and throw stones at young girls playing by their home, injuring two

On Sunday, 17 January 2021, at around midday, the three daughters of the Qut family – Alma (4), Masah (6) and Hala (10) – were playing by their house, which lies on the southern edge of the village. Their mother, Wiam (30), was inside with her two-month-old daughter and nine-year-old son. The father, Shaher (34), was at work in Israel.

Suddenly, several masked settlers appeared and started throwing stones at the three girls from several dozen meters away. Masah was hit in the leg but managed to run home and get her mother. The mother came out and found Hala lying unconscious on the ground, after a stone had hit her in the face. As the settlers continued throwing stones, hitting Wiam in the leg, she took the girls inside and washed Hala's face. Meanwhile, the settlers continued to throw stones at the house, breaking a kitchen window and a bedroom window.

The settlers fled when Wiam's brother- and sister-in-law, who live next door, arrived with a friend. The sister-in-law and friend took Hala to Rafidya hospital in Nablus, while Hatem, Shaher's brother, stayed with Wiam and her children. In hospital, Hala was examined, given first aid for the swelling in her face and discharged. Three days later, she returned for X-rays that revealed her nose was broken and her upper jaw fractured. The doctors determined she would need surgery to fix her nasal bones and replace a damaged tooth with a dental implant.

Like most Palestinians who live in the villages near the settlement of Yitzhar, the residents of Madama suffer repeated attacks by settlers. In 2020 alone, B'Tselem documented three settler attacks on residents' homes, including an attack on another home of the Qut family.

In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb'i, 10-year-old Hala Qut described how settlers attacked her with stones:

I was playing out front with my two sisters when suddenly, I heard voices coming from the direction of the hill. I turn to look and saw a man with a mask throw a stone at me. I fell over. When I woke up, I was in a hospital bed. I could hear the doctor saying my name. I really scared. I didn't understand where I was and didn't know what to do.

I don't remember anything about the man except that he was huge and tall. His face was covered and all I could see were his big eyes. I didn't know he was a settler. I thought he was from the village. Later, I was told they were settlers who’d thrown stones at us and at our house. I’ve asked my parents to sleep in their bed because I'm afraid they'll come back and attack us again.

I can't sleep at night. Whenever I close my eyes, I see that settler. The angry look in his eyes haunts me.

In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb'i, Wiam Qut recounted the settlers' attack on her daughters and home:

On Sunday, 17 January 2021, around midday, I was doing chores around the house. My baby Lucinda was asleep in my bedroom and my son Karam (9) was playing indoors. My three girls were playing out front, as they do every day.

Suddenly, Masah came in holding her leg and yelled, "They hit me with a stone!" I asked, "Who hit you?" and she said, "People." I went to the doorway and saw my daughter Hala lying on the ground about six meters away. I ran over to her, calling out her name, but she didn't answer. When I reached her, she still didn’t respond because she’d passed out. Her nose and mouth were bloody. I saw several masked people throwing stones at us and realized they were settlers.

Two stones hit me in the right leg and I grabbed Hala by the shoulders, because I can't lift her, dragged her inside and shut the door. I washed her face and wiped off the blood, because I didn't know where she was bleeding from. Meanwhile, I heard stones hitting the walls of the house and glass shattering. A few minutes later, the stones stopped and all I could hear was the sound of my terrified children crying.  

My brother-in-law Hatem, who lives next door, came over with his wife and a friend. My sister-in-law and the friend took Hala to hospital in Nablus, because I couldn't leave the kids alone. Hatem stayed with us, because he was afraid the settlers would come back. My husband works in Israel and gets home late.

I was so scared that I completely forgot Lucinda was sleeping in her cot in the bedroom. I ran over to her and was shocked to find two large stones and broken glass on my bed. Thank God Lucinda was safe and sound in her cot, because she often sleeps in my bed during the daytime. That day, I put her to sleep in her cot, I don't even know why. If she’d been sleeping  in my bed, she would have been hit for sure – if not by a stone, then by the broken glass that flew in. I picked her up and she was still sleeping like an angel. I started crying over what had happened to us with no warning. It’s the first time settlers have come so close to our home, and it was terrifying. They usually attack homes in the village and try to take over land, but they’ve never come as far as this into the village, because people notice them and drive them away.

Hala came home about three hours later with her father, who went from work straight to the hospital. That night and for the following two nights, she refused to sleep in her bed and slept in ours. She's terrified. We all are. Since the incident, my husband has come back every night and hasn’t stayed overnight at his workplace.

My husband covered the broken windows in the kitchen and bedroom with plastic sheets/nylon. It was freezing that night, and we all suffered.

Three days later, we took Hala for a checkup at the hospital. They X-rayed her and found that she needs surgery for her broken nose. She also has a fracture in her upper jawbone and a broken tooth, and she'll need an implant. She's scheduled for surgery on Wednesday, 27 January 2021. When we got back from hospital, Hala was very nervous about the surgery and burst into tears. I tried to calm her down, of course, but she's a little girl and it's a very hard for her.

The settlement of Yitzhar was established about a kilometer from the Qut family’s home.


March 2020


Madama: Settlers attack home, soldiers fire live rounds in the air and tear-gas canisters at residents

On 7 March 2020, about 15 settlers, including the armed chief of security of Yitzhar, entered the village of Madama and started hurling stones at houses. Residents who heard the commotion went outside to see what was happening. As in other cases, some 15 soldiers summoned there began firing live rounds in the air and tear-gas canisters at the residents who had gathered to defend their homes.

In a verbal exchange that ensued, the soldiers detained a B’Tselem volunteer who was documenting the incident, confiscated his and another volunteer’s cameras and gave them to Yitzhar’s chief of security, who then erased some footage of the incident. Read more....

Madama, 7 March 2020: Settlers attack home, soldiers fire live rounds in the air and tear-gas canisters at residents

Madama, 7 March 2020: Settlers attack home, soldiers fire live rounds in the air and tear-gas canisters at residents.

January 2020

Madama, 31 January 2020: Settlers attack home with stones while soldiers shoot tear gas and “rubber” bullets at village residents.
Madama, 31 January 2020: Settlers attack home with stones while soldiers shoot tear gas and “rubber” bullets at village residents.

Stones, tear gas and “rubber” bullets: Settlers raid Madama with full support of army

On Friday, 31 Jan. 2020, at around 1:00 P.M., some 20 settlers, escorted by about 10 soldiers, attacked the home of Zahiyah (36) and Khalil (46) Qut. The incident occurred while the couple and their eight children, between the ages of three to sixteen, were at home in the southern part of the village of Madama.

The settlers, some of whom were masked and carried slingshots, came from the direction of the settlement of Yitzhar and started throwing stones at the house. Two windows in the children’s room shattered. Zahiyah’s eldest son, Naser a-Din, 16, went outside to see what was going on. Meanwhile, Zahiyah and Khalil quickly closed all the windows and locked the door. The soldiers, who arrived together with the settlers, stood around the house and did nothing to stop the settlers attacking it. Instead, they started shooting tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at village residents who came to help the family, and kept them from coming near the house. 

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Zahiyah Qut described what she and her children went through: 

I went into the children’s room, which faces south, and saw more than twenty settlers. Some of them were masked and some were holding slingshots. They were about twenty or thirty meters away from our house and were throwing stones at it. I also saw two army jeeps parked by the house. 
My four little ones were crying. I didn’t know what to do, it was all so sudden and scary. The settlers continued throwing stones. I felt I was about to collapse. I opened the door and saw four soldiers standing right at the entrance. One of them shouted at me to close the door. I said to him: “For God’s sake, there are little children here and the settlers broke the windows.” My kids were standing behind me, crying. The soldier pushed me into the house and closed the door. The house was full of the smell of tear gas and my daughter Nur, 12, was nauseous and pale.

When more and more village residents began to gather, the settlers and soldiers moved away from the house and started withdrawing towards the settlement of Yitzhar. An ambulance team arrived and treated Naser, who had gone outside when the assault began and blacked out after inhaling a large quantity of tear gas, and one of the children, who was lightly injured by a broken window. The settlers also broke a lamp at the entrance to the house and damaged three trees in the garden and five of the neighbors’ trees. One of the residents who came to help the family was hit in the leg by a “rubber” bullet a soldier fired at him. 

This is the second attack by settlers on the homes of Madama residents in January 2020.
Zahiyah further related:  

"We couldn’t sleep all night. We were afraid we’d be attacked again, especially because the windows were broken. We felt we were in danger. We thought the iron grating we installed on the windows would protect us from the settlers’ stones, but it turned out that it doesn’t really protect us and we’re afraid they’ll throw something flammable in and kill us all. The children don’t want to leave the house. My son Zein, 5, told me he doesn’t want to stay in this house and wants to move to another house in the village. Everyone sleeps in our room and I can’t sleep any more. There’s no wall around the house, so it’s easy for them to get to us. We’re in real trouble. About ten days ago, the settlers attacked Amneh and Yihya Qut’s house and tried to enter it. That used to be our house. Things have become really tough and we’re in real danger.

Madama, 31 January 2020: Settlers attack home with stones while soldiers shoot tear gas and “rubber” bullets at village residents.


Settlers attack three women with stones and try to break into their house
Settlers attack three women with stones and try to break into their house

Out of Yitzhar the evil will break

On Wednesday, 15 January 2020, at around 11:30 A.M., Amneh Qut, 30, a mother of three, sat outside her house in the southern part of Madama village together with her mother, Samira, 48, and her sister-in-law, Danya, 20. They sat in their yard enjoying the winter sun, drinking coffee and eating cake and fruit.

Suddenly, the noticed two masked settlers coming towards them from the settlement of Yitzhar. The settlers started throwing stones at the three women, who quickly got up to run into the house. Danya, who was five months pregnant, fell over and Amneh helped her up. The settlers continued throwing stones at them. Danya and Amneh were each hit in the back by a stone, and Amneh was also hit in the leg.

After the women went into the house, one of the settlers tried to prevent them from closing the door, but together they managed to close and lock it. Amneh tried to call out to the neighbors through a window, as they had left their mobile phones on the table outside, but they didn’t hear her. The settlers continued to throw stones at the house and, once they noticed Amneh standing by the window, starting aiming at the windows, too. One stone went through the grating and smashed the glass. When the settlers retreated, Amneh called her family members, and several relatives came to take Danya to be checked at hospital.  

The next day, Amneh Qut told B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i: 

“We can’t stay in the house with the way things are. I suggested to my husband Yichya that we temporarily move to his parents’ house until our house is safe. Ours is the very last house in the village, and the closest to the settlement. We have to build high walls around it and set up better defenses. We also need to get a car to drive the kids to and from school, so they don’t walk around alone. I’m constantly scared that the settlers will grab my kids on the way home from school and kill them.

I’m still afraid. I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night and my left leg still hurts. Whenever I shut my eyes, I see the settler shoving up against our front door and three of us pushing on the other side. I also see, in my mind’s eye, my brother’s wife lying on the floor, and remember the sense of urgency that we had to get her into the house before the settlers got there. It was an unbelievable situation. I still can’t believe it happened to me. It’s beyond comprehension.” 

Madama, 15 January 2020: Settlers attack three women with stones and try to break into their house


This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of B'Tselem and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.