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.