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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

July 2021

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Spikes scattered by settlers on Musa’s plot. Photo courtesy of landowner
Spikes scattered by settlers on Musa’s plot. Photo courtesy of landowner

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers scatter spikes on land of villager, puncturing his car

On 30 July 2021, while Rami Musa (40) was driving his car in his plot, one of his car tires was punctured by spikes settlers had scattered there.  

The settlement of Shvut Rachel was established about a kilometer away from Musa’s plot. On 6 June 2021, settlers broke about 80 three-year-old olive and other fruit trees seedlings in his land.

B’Tselem has documented other cases in which settlers scattered spikes to damage Palestinian vehicles. 

June 2021

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The seedlings uprooted in Rami Musa’s plot. Photo courtesy of landowner
The seedlings uprooted in Rami Musa’s plot. Photo courtesy of landowner

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers uproot approx. 160 fruit tree seedlings

On 6 June 2021, settlers invaded the plots of two farmers in the south of the village and uprooted and broke fruit tree seedlings, including olive trees. In 40-year-old Rami Musa’s plot, the settlers broke 84 three-year-old seedlings, and in 60-year-old Muhammad ‘Amer’s plot, they uprooted and broke some 85 seedlings.

The settlement of Shvut Rachel was established about a kilometer from ‘Amer’s plot, and the settlement of Shilo was established about 200 meters to the west.

March 2021

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A fence vandalized by settlers in Bilal Badawi's plot, Qaryut, 20 March 2021
A fence vandalized by settlers in Bilal Badawi's plot, Qaryut, 20 March 2021

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers uproot trees in Palestinian farmer’s plot, planted their own trees in another’s and used soldiers to help them drive him away.

On 20 March 2021, at around 2:00 P.M., Shenar ‘Amer, a 37-year-old married father of five from Qaryut, arrived at a plot of land he leases from another village resident. The plot lies south of the village, several hundred meters from where the settlements of Shilo and Shvut Rachel were built.

When he arrived, ‘Amer saw settlers had planted about 20 citrus trees in the plot and put up metal barrels around them. He began removing the barrels, and then the security coordinator of the settlement of Shilo showed up and told him to leave. In the meantime, a car with three other settlers arrived along with a military jeep. The settlers claimed they owned the land, and the soldiers ordered ‘Amer to present them with ownership documents, which he had not brought with him. Fearful of confronting the settlers and soldiers, ‘Amer had no choice but to return home. The next day, the settlers put the barrels back around the trees they had planted in the plot. ‘Amer asked the plot owner to file a police complaint.

Three days later, Bilal Badawi (44), a father of four, arrived at his plot, which lies about a kilometer southeast of the plot leased by ‘Amer (and about 300 meters from the settlement of Shvut Rachel). When Badawi arrived, he discovered settlers had damaged the fence encircling his plot and uprooted about 50 young olive trees he planted several months earlier. Badawi informed the Shvut Rachel security guard, who arrived at the plot, as well as the Qaryut Village Council and the Palestinian DCO. He also filed a complaint with the Binyamin police.

B’Tselem documented another case of settler interference with farmland belonging to a resident of Qaryut in early March 2021. Residents of Qaryut suffer from repeated settler harassment in this area. Multiple settlements and outposts have been established around the village - Shilo, Shvut Rachel, Eli, Ahiya, Nof Harim, Hayovel, Hakaron and Giv’at Harel.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Shenar ‘Amer recounted the attempted takeover of his plot and how the soldiers had backed the settlers:

I came to the plot I’ve been leasing for years from another village resident. I grow wheat and barley there, and was going to plow that day. When I got there, I saw metal barrels had been put up around about 20 citrus saplings in the plot. I realized right away that settlers had put them up and started removing the barrels and throwing them aside.

Suddenly, the security coordinator of the settlement of Shilo, which is located 300 meters away from the plot, showed up and asked me what I was doing and why I was there. I told him it was my plot, and he told me to get lost or there would be trouble. Meanwhile, three settlers came by car, escorted by a military jeep that had been standing on the Shilo settlement “security road.” One of the settlers said he owned the land. I told him: “No way is this your land! It’s our land!” What I meant was that the land belongs to Palestinians, because someone from the village owns it. I’ve been working in farming with my father since I was a child, and I know all the plots and their owners.

The settler and I got into an argument and eventually, the soldiers demanded I show them ownership papers, which, of course, I didn’t have on me. It never crossed my mind to bring the papers to plow. I had to go because I was scared and I was facing the settlers, the security coordinator, the settlement and the soldiers all alone.

I told the owner of the plot what had happened and asked him to file a complaint, out of concern that the settlers would take over the land and deny us access to it.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Bilal Badawi spoke about the damage the settlers had done to his fence and about the trees they uprooted:

I came to the plot to tend to the olive trees I planted in November 2020. At the time, I bought 75 five-year-old trees, and I put a fence up around the plot to protect them from settler aggression and wild animals. I discovered the fence had been cut in several spots and that some of the tree trunks had been broken and others had been uprooted. I froze on the spot and didn’t know what to do. Two days before that, on 21 March 2021, I went there and saw footprints and signs that someone had tried to damage the chicken wire fence.

While I was standing there, the security coordinator of the settlement of Shvut Rachel drove up and asked me what happened. After I told him, he left. I called the council and told them what happened, and then two members of the council came to the plot. I filed a complaint with the Palestinian DCO and went to file a complaint with the Israeli police too, at the Binyamin station, even though I know they won’t take it seriously. I still wanted what happened to be documented.

If a Palestinian tried to get into the settlement security area, they would have turned the world upside down. He’d be caught or maybe even shot. But they belittle anything the settlers do to the Palestinians and don’t consider it important at all.

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Fence destroyed by settlers in Qaryut, 2 March 2021. Photo by Muhammad al-Boum
Fence destroyed by settlers in Qaryut, 2 March 2021. Photo by Muhammad al-Boum

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers invade plot, damage fence and irrigation lines, cut down olive saplings and uproot vegetables

On 2 March 2021, at around 12:30 P.M., father of five Muhammad al-Boum (45) arrived at his plot with his two sons, aged 5 and 12. Al-Boum grows vegetables and olive saplings on the land, which lies on the southern side of the village. Upon arrival, he was surprised to discover the water lines and some of the barbed wire fence he had put up around the plot vandalized, 13 olive saplings cut down, and dozens of vegetable seedlings uprooted.

The settlement of Shilo was built about 500 meters south of the plot.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Muhammad al-Boum spoke about the damage caused by settlers who are trying to drive him off the land:

We went to the plot to pick some spinach. I planted 16 olive saplings there in 2018, and every season I sow vegetable seeds in it, too. This year, I sowed spinach, fava beans, cauliflower, red cabbage and lettuce.

When we arrived, I saw that the iron fence I’d put up around the plot to protect it from wild boars had been cut. When I entered the plot, I discovered that 13 of the olive saplings had been cut down and many of the vegetable seedlings had been uprooted. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve been waiting and looking forward to the trees’ yield. This year or next year, they were supposed to start bearing fruit. The vegetable seedlings had also grown and should have been ready for harvesting in about two weeks. They even cut my irrigation lines.

I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to tell my young son, Hamad, when he asked me who had done it. The plot is close to the settlement of Shilo, and no one but the settlers could have done such a thing. I don’t know what to do or whom I can turn to for help. They left nothing. They ruined three years’ worth of work. I called the village council and took photos of the damage. After that, I couldn’t bear to stay there anymore and went home.

We live and provide for ourselves under difficult conditions, without anyone’s help. We have no roads, no assistance, no compensation. In fact, we put most of our efforts into continuing to work the land and holding on to it, even though we don’t really have the financial means to do that. Holding on to the land so settlers don’t take it over is the most important thing for me. Now I have to plant new olive trees. I’ve lost some of the vegetable crops, and I’ll have to replace the irrigation lines and the fence, too.

 

February 2021

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Nawal Isma’il in a grove where settlers uprooted olive seedlings, Qaryut, 7 Feb. 2021. Photo: Isma’il family
Nawal Isma’il in a grove where settlers uprooted olive seedlings, Qaryut, 7 Feb. 2021. Photo: Isma’il family

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers uproot some 20 olive seedlings in senior’s plot

On 7 February 2021, Nawal Isma’il (68), a widow and mother of seven, discovered settlers had uprooted some 20 olive seedlings she had planted two years ago in her land south of the village.

The security fence of the settlement of Shvut Rachel was erected near the plot.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Nawal Isma’il recounted the settlers’ damage to her property:

I come to my land every morning. That morning, when I arrived, I discovered that settlers had uprooted and broken all the olive seedlings. I went mad! They didn’t even leave a single little seedling. I planted them, and they just uprooted them and threw them away. I later found the uprooted seedlings tossed away far from the plot. I called my cousin, and his son Amir arrived and called Shvut Rachel’s security coordinator.

The security coordinator arrived about an hour later and spoke to Amir in Hebrew. He told Amir that he saw the people who uprooted the seedlings on the security cameras, and they weren’t from their settlement. He asked us not to report the incident because it would cause problems and said that he’d make sure it won't happen again if we didn't tell anyone.
I was hoping to replant the seedlings, but they broke them, and it wasn’t possible. I cared for and nurtured these seedlings like children. I felt sad for them and all the work I’d put into this plot.

October 2020

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Iron rods placed by settlers at Shaher Hazem’s plot, which punctured his tractor tires. Qaryut, 22 Oct. 2020. Photo by Shaher Hazem
Iron rods placed by settlers at Shaher Hazem’s plot, which punctured his tractor tires. Qaryut, 22 Oct. 2020. Photo by Shaher Hazem

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settler harvests olives and cuts down five trees in the Hazem family’s plot. Police refuse to investigate the claims

On 22 October 2020, at around 8:00 A.M., Shaher (52) and Rihab (45) Hazem, parents of seven, arrived at their olive grove. Their son Ahmad (13) joined them to harvest olives on one of the last harvest days the Israeli DCO had coordinated for them. The family’s plot, which stretches over eight dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters], lies about two kilometers west of the village homes and about 500 meters away from the settlement of Eli.

Eli was established in 1984 on land belonging to the villages of Qaryut and a-Sawiyah.

When the family arrived at the grove, Hazem drove around in his tractor and discovered that settlers had already harvested most of the trees and cut down five of them. During the drive, the tractor went over some long screws which the settlers had apparently left in the field. Three of its tires were punctured.

At that point, a settler arrived from the direction of Eli and told Hazem that he had harvested the trees and had left the family 15 trees to harvest.
 
Hazem called the village council and reported the incident. Council representatives contacted the Israel Police, and at around 12:30 P.M., officers arrived at the grove. The settler, who had been roaming around the grove while the family collected fallen olives lying around the trees, disappeared. Hazem told the officers what the settler had said, but they replied that they could not do anything without evidence and left the area.

As the officers moved away, the settler returned to the plot and implicitly threatened to burn Hazem’s tractor if he left it in the grove and went to get help to fix it. A few minutes later, the family left in the flat-tired tractor, taking with them the 12 kg of olives they had managed to collect.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Shaher Hazem described the encounter with the settler and the indifference of the police:

I drove around the grove with my tractor to check it out. There weren’t many olives, and on some trees, there weren’t any at all, so I understood that someone must’ve harvested them. About five olive trees had been cut down. While driving, the tractor went over some sharp metal pieces, causing a flat tire. I was really worried because we were far from the village. I turned around and then the tractor went over two more metal pieces, and two more tires went flat. I was furious and didn’t know what to do. I’m sure someone put them there on purpose. There’s no way this happened by chance.

Meanwhile, a settler suddenly arrived from the direction of Eli. He was all smiles. We know him because he’s been wandering around residents’ land for years, reaching the village homes and causing problems. He wants to take over our land. When he came near, he told me in Hebrew that he’d harvested the trees and only left me 15. I got mad and asked him why he didn’t just go ahead and harvest everything. I told him I’d call the police and report the theft, the chopped up trees and the metal pieces left on the ground. He laughed and didn’t answer.

I called the village council and told them what had happened, and they said they’d call the Israel Police. I thought the police would collect a statement and punish the offender. Meanwhile, we collected what was left of the olives under the trees. We only collected about 10 to 12 kg. These are large trees that yield a lot of fruit, but the settler barely left anything. He kept wandering around the area and following me.
 
The officers arrived, and the first thing they asked was if I had any documentation or proof. I said that I didn’t and that I can only come to my land on coordinated days. The officer replied that they couldn’t do anything. I told him, “The settler himself told me that he’d harvested the trees. So how come you can’t?” The officer said that was just talk and that they couldn’t do anything without evidence. Then they left.

The settler, who disappeared when the officers arrived, came back after they left. I told him I was going to get someone to help me fix the tires, and then he asked, “You’re leaving the tractor here?” I answered that I was, and then he said, “If someone burns it, that would be bad for you!” I realized he was threatening to burn it and understood that I had no choice but to drive it with the punctured tires.

When we came back to the village, it turned out that the tractor’s rims had been damaged from driving on the punctured tires, and I need to change them, too, but I don’t have the money to do that.

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Broken branches in Bilal Badawi’s plot, in which settlers cut down 25 trees, Qaryut, 17 Oct. 2020. Photo by Bilal Badawi
Broken branches in Bilal Badawi’s plot, in which settlers cut down 25 trees, Qaryut, 17 Oct. 2020. Photo by Bilal Badawi

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers cut down 30 five-year-old olive trees

On Saturday morning, 17 October 2020, Bilal Badawi (45) arrived at his plot, which lies east of the village, to continue putting up a fence around his land to protect it from damage by settlers. When he got there, he was amazed to find that settlers had cut down 30 five-year-old olive trees in his grove.

The settlement of Shvut Rachel was established in 1991 about a kilometer from the plot.

Bilal Badawi, an administrator in the Palestinian Authority, gave his testimony to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i:

I went to my plot, which is in an area called a-Sahel a-Sharqi. I own 11 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters] of land. On six of them, I grow olive trees that are five to seven years old.

When I got to the plot, I found that settlers had broken 30 olive trees. I had visited the land just a few days earlier, and everything was fine. I go there all the time and don’t need to coordinate with the Israeli DCO.

The land lies about a kilometer away from the settlement of Shvut Rachel. About three months ago, they stole the work tools I’d left at the plot. I notified the village council of the theft.

I inherited the land from my father and do my best to tend to it, although there’s not much water in the area. I fill up plastic buckets at home and take them to the land to water the trees. Now I’m afraid the settlers will damage the rest of the trees, because they enter village land whenever they please.

April 2020

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cut down olive tree in Qaryut
cut down olive tree in Qaryut

Qaryut, Nablus District: ‘Eli settlement chief of security uses soldiers to remove Palestinians from their land under false allegations

The military does not allow Palestinians from Qaryut to cultivate land belonging to their village without prior coordination. Accordingly, farmers from the village contacted the Israeli DCO and received notice they could work their land for three days. On Tuesday morning, 14 April 2020, two of them went to their farmland, which lies across from the fence surrounding the settlement of ‘Eli, and were astounded to find 30 olive trees cut down by settlers. 

A few minutes later, the settlement’s chief of security arrived with soldiers who ordered the farmers to leave, on the grounds that the coordination did not apply to their plots. The soldiers stated that the Palestinian DCO would coordinate an alternative time in the following days. The farmers tried to persuade the soldiers and the chief of security to let them continue, even for an hour, so they could move along with plowing, but the soldiers insisted they leave. 

The settlement of ‘Eli was founded on land belonging to Qaryut in 1984. 

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A farmer from Qaryut against the background of Hayovel outpost. January 2020. Courtesy of the Musa family.
A farmer from Qaryut against the background of Hayovel outpost. January 2020. Courtesy of the Musa family.

Qaryut, Nablus District: Settlers and soldiers drive farmers out of their land with stun grenades, tear gas, pepper spray and falsehoods

Settlers repeatedly rely on the help of soldiers to drive Palestinians out of their farmland. On Sunday, 5 April 2020, two residents of Qaryut were working their land east of the village. The chief of security for the settlement of ‘Eli arrived, bearing arms and escorted by soldiers, and the landowners were driven off with stun grenades and tear-gas canisters. 

The plot in question lies in Area B, about 500 meters from the village homes and some 300 meters from the access road that leads to HaYovel, a settlement outpost established in 1998. The soldiers told the two residents they needed prior coordination with the DCO to work the land – a false claim, as coordination is not required in Area B. 

Until recently, landowners in the area worked their land undisturbed. Yet in March, the chiefs of security for ‘Eli and HaYovel began them driving out, with the help of soldiers. On 11 March, the HaYovel security chief and three soldiers arrived at the plots and forced a village resident and two workers who were planting olive seedlings to leave. On 13 March, about five soldiers arrived and hurled stun grenades at a family working their land. To make their intention clear, they sprayed one resident with pepper spray and forced them all to go home. 
 

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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.