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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

August 2020

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The torched car of the ‘Assayreh family, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 28 Aug. 2020. Photo: courtesy of village council
The torched car of the ‘Assayreh family, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 28 Aug. 2020. Photo: courtesy of village council

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers torch car and spray hate-graffiti on Palestinian home

On Friday night, 28 August 2020, at around 2:30 A.M., settlers torched the ‘Assayreh family’s car, which was parked near their home in the southern neighborhood of the village. Lama’ Assayreh (21) awoke to the sound of an explosion and woke her parents, Wael and Suhair (both 47). Lama’s sisters, Lana (14) and Lin (5), were also woken by the commotion outside. The family put out the fire and discovered that settlers had also sprayed their wall with a slogan: “Jewish blood is not cheap.”

Wael ’Assayreh notified the village council of the incident and at midday, Israeli military officers, DCO personnel and police officers arrived at the house. The latter took ‘Assayreh’s statement and photographed the torched car, which he had bought only two months earlier.

In a testimony she gave on 30 August 2020, Lama ‘Assayreh described what happened to her family that night:  

I was woken by noises outside my bedroom window, but went back to sleep. A few seconds later, I heard an explosion. I jumped out of bed, looked out, and saw my father’s car burning. I rushed to my parents’ room and woke them up. Then I went outside without even thinking, to put the fire out before the gas tank exploded and caused a disaster.

My sisters, Lana and Lin, woke up and we all helped my dad bring water from the container in the yard to put out the fire. Then, we noticed graffiti in Hebrew on our fence. The whole thing terrified me: I thought about what would’ve happened if the settlers had attacked us while we were inside the house. Our home is far from the rest of the village houses.  

I couldn’t sleep that night or the night after. I keep remembering the flames reflected on the ceiling of my room on the night of the fire. I can’t forget that sight or the noises I heard outside. It was a horrible night. My little sister Lin asked if they’re going to burn down our house. She’s become very nervous since it happened.

We don’t feel safe in our own home and are thinking about building a wall around us, so that no one can reach us. I asked my dad to install security cameras so we can see what’s going on around the house.

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‘Asirah al-Qibliyah
‘Asirah al-Qibliyah

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack village homes twice in one day

On Saturday, 15 August 2020, settlers attacked homes belonging to the ‘Omari family in two separate incidents. At around 4:00 P.M., two settlers drew near the home of Rafiq and Anis ‘Omari, threw stones at it for several minutes and left, heading towards the settlement of Yitzhar. At around 6:00 P.M., about 15 settlers arrived and started throwing stones at another of the family’s homes. Several soldiers who were escorting them fired tear gas canisters and hurled stun grenades at the residents who came out to defend their homes. Even after the settlers had left, the soldiers continued firing and only left the area at around 8:00 P.M.

In a testimony she gave on 16 August 2020, Maysaa ‘Omari described the attack on her home:

Yesterday, around 4:00 P.M., I was on the roof with my husband and sons when I saw two settlers standing a few meters away from the house my sons Rafiq and Anis live in. The settlers threw stones at the house and then ran towards the settlement. Around two hours later, about 15 settlers came from the direction of Yitzhar with three or four soldiers. The settlers threw stones at our house and the soldiers fired tear gas and threw stun grenades at us and at other residents who came out to defend the houses. Several tear gas canisters landed on our roof and in our yard. I didn’t know what to do. Rafiq, his wife and their three little boys, who are three, four and five, were at our house and so was Anis’s wife, who’s nine months pregnant. I looked for a safe room, as far as possible from the smell of gas, and took onions, water and yeast with me. I turned on the fan and closed the windows. The soldiers kept firing tear gas at us even after the settlers left for the settlement.

Things only calmed down after 8:00 P.M., when it got dark and the soldiers left. We couldn’t sleep all night for fear the settlers and soldiers would come back. The settlers have vandalized our cars in the past, and we feared they’d do something similar again. My young children and my little nephews, including 3-year-old Ra’d, keep asking me if they’ll come back and use tear gas against us.

Whenever we try to forget about the bad things that happened to us, the situation repeats itself and gets worse every time.

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‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers stone Palestinian homes; soldiers fire tear gas and throw stun grenades at villagers

On Thursday night, 13 August 2020, at about 12:30 A.M., settlers torched a bulldozer in the village of ‘Urif and sprayed a boulder with a slogan: “Demolition will lead to destruction!”. Ahmad and Maysaa ’Omari, who live in the neighboring village of ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, went up to their roof with their children to see what was happening. From there, they saw dozens of masked settlers running towards their home from the settlement of Yitzhar. The family called for help, and dozens of residents arrived to help them defend their homes and nearby houses.

Meanwhile, the settlers approached the ‘Omaris’ home and began to throw stones at it and at a neighboring house, where two of the couple’s married sons live. Immediately after, three military jeeps arrived along with the settlement security coordinator. The soldiers got out of their vehicles and started firing tear gas canisters at the residents and at their homes. At that point, the settlers drew back towards Yitzhar while the soldiers stayed put and continued firing tear gas and throwing stun grenades at the residents until they went back into their homes. The soldiers stayed on the outskirts of the village until 3:00 A.M.

In a testimony she gave on 16 August 2020, Maysaa 'Omari related:

While we were standing on our roof to watch what was happening in 'Urif, I saw a lot of settlers coming from the direction of Yitzhar. I was scared. The settlers usually attack us during the day, but not at night. Despite the dark, I could see they were masked. They ran towards our house. We started whistling and calling the villagers to let them know that settlers were coming, and dozens of people came out to help us.  

The settlers threw stones at our house and next door, where my sons Rafiq and Anis live. Then, three military jeeps and the settlement chief of security arrived. The soldiers got out and started firing tear gas at our homes. They didn’t care that the settlers were the ones who’d attacked us or that there were women, including a pregnant woman, children and elderly people there. They didn’t care about anything. I told my children to go back inside and close the windows. I called my Anis’s wife, who’s nine months pregnant, because I was worried about her. She said she’d forgotten to close the bathroom window and gas had seeped into the house. I asked her to stay in a safe room and use onions and yeast to make it easier to breathe and relieve the burning in her face.

About 15 minutes later, the settlers drew back towards the settlement while the soldiers stayed and kept on throwing stun grenades and firing tear gas. They shouted at everyone to go inside. I went down off the roof and ran indoors to get away from the gas. I watched what was happening through a window. My son Ahmad (20), who has dwarfism, gets anxious from these incidents. My daughter Hadil (10) also gets really frightened when the settlers attack us. I stayed by their side and tried to calm them down.

The soldiers rained tear gas on the neighborhood for about an hour. Everyone ran from the gas and from the stun grenades. The soldiers stayed on the outskirts of the village and near our home until 3:00 A.M. I followed what was happening with my husband and children because we were afraid the settlers would come back. I only managed to fall asleep at 4:00 A.M., after the soldiers left.

13 August 2020, 2:00 P.M.: Settlers attack Palestinian homes again, this time with military back-up

In the afternoon, the incident recurred: at around 2:00 P.M., some 10 settlers came to the village, this time escorted by several soldiers, and started stoning the homes of the ‘Omari and Salah families, which lie about 300 meters apart. The Salah’s home is partially under construction. When the residents came outside, the soldiers fired tear gas canisters and threw stun grenades at them. During the incident, several residents lit weeds by the roadside to keep the soldiers and the settlers from reaching their homes. About 15 minutes later, the settlement security coordinator arrived, and the settlers left toward the settlement while the soldiers stayed in the area.

In a testimony she gave on 17 August 2020, Lubna Salah (44), a mother of four, described the attack on her home:

On Thursday afternoon, at around 2:00 P.M., settlers came back to the village and attacked our house. I was at home with my husband and three of our sons, working on the third floor, which is still under construction. Suddenly, my husband said he could hear noises and asked me to look outside. I looked out the window facing the settlement and saw a military jeep and about ten settlers throwing stones at the homes of the ‘Omaris.

The soldiers fired tear gas at the residents who came out to defend their homes. A few minutes later, the settlers approached our home and started throwing stones at it, too. The soldiers who were with the settlers came closer, and it was clear they were guarding them. My husband and I went up to our roof, where I filmed part of the incident. My husband said he heard the soldiers talking with the settlers and asking them to stop throwing stones, so it wouldn’t cause  problems. My husband shouted and cursed at them, and then the soldiers fired tear gas and threw stun grenades at us.

We didn’t know where to go. I was scared to go down to the ground floor because I was afraid the settlers and soldiers would come in and attack us. In the end, we hid in the stairway. It was the safest place because there’s no windows, so the gas couldn’t come in. Fifteen minutes later, some village residents and the settlement security coordinator arrived. He talked to the settlers and they left and headed towards the settlement. It looked like they were only willing to listen to his orders.

June 2020

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'Asirah al-Qibliyah, 19 June 2020: The shattered windshield of the al-'Omaris' car. Photo courtesy of the family
'Asirah al-Qibliyah, 19 June 2020: The shattered windshield of the al-'Omaris' car. Photo courtesy of the family

'Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers stone Palestinian home in broad daylight and vandalize family’s car at night

On 13 June 2020, at around 4:00 P.M., about 15 settlers stoned the home of Maysaa and ‘Abd al-Basset ‘Omari, a couple in their fifties, in the southern part of the village. The family went outside to protect their property, along with other residents who came to fend off the attack. Minutes later, a military jeep drove up and soldiers got out and started firing tear-gas canisters at the villagers. The residents dispersed and the settlers headed back towards the settlement of Yitzhar, which was established about a kilometer away in 1983.  

A few days later, on Friday, 19 June 2020, the 'Omaris were woken in the middle of the night by an explosion near their home. When they went outside to see what happened, they saw four settlers running towards a vehicle used by the Yitzhar security coordinators, standing about 150 meters away. The family discovered that the settlers had smashed the rear windshield of one of their cars and slashed its rear tires.

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Settlers gather around houses in ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 6 June 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Ibrahim Mahfuz's family.
Settlers gather around houses in ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 6 June 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Ibrahim Mahfuz's family.

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers attack houses with stones, soldiers join in with live fire, stun grenades and tear-gas canisters

On Saturday evening, 6 June 2020, at around 6:30 P.M., about five settlers were standing on a hilltop overlooking ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah. Beside them were a military jeep and several soldiers. The settlers started making their way towards houses in the village, as did the jeep. Then the settlers began throwing stones at the houses. When the residents came out to defend themselves and their property – the soldiers responded by hurling stun grenades and tear-gas canisters and firing live fire in the air.

The assault on the village lasted about half an hour.

The Palestinian Authority has stopped coordinating with Israeli security forces, in light of Israel's annexation plans. Therefore, the victims had no one to turn to for even a show of protection and law enforcement, and the village council head called the Red Cross for help. Meanwhile, the settlers apparently had their fill of violence and left the area.

EU

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.