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.