The settlers have ruined our quiet routine and deprived us of our basic right to spend time in nature. Because of them, we're anxious and too afraid to go biking again.
From the testimony of ‘Amer Kurdi (30), a cyclist
Five friends from Beir Zeit, a village in Ramallah District, go bike riding every weekend. On Saturday morning, 18 July 2020, they set out from Beir Zeit, cycled along Route 60 and turned off by Turmusaya. They rode for about three kilometers along a dirt road that leads to the hills northeast of the village, about a kilometer from the settlement outpost of Adei Ad.
‘Amer Kurdi (30) and Dennis Subuh (30) were about 100 meters ahead of their friends when they noticed several tents on a hilltop. The tents were put up by settlers from Adei Ad, but the cyclists initially thought they belonged to Bedouins. As they passed the hill, however, they came across a white pickup truck. A man got out of it and asked them, in Hebrew, where they were coming from. After they replied that they had come from Ramallah, he got into the truck and drove off, and the pair continued riding.
When the rest of the group reached the same spot, about seven masked settlers, armed with clubs and sticks, appeared on the hilltop. With them was the settlement guard, also armed. They started throwing stones and tumbling boulders at the cyclists from about 40 meters away. After Kurdi And Subuh stopped to check on their friends, two settlers came down the hill and started throwing stones at them. They managed to escape, but the others had to abandon their bikes and run to nearby fields under a hail of stones. Two settlers and the settlement guard managed to catch Samer Kurdi (28), ‘Amer’s brother, and one of the settlers started beating him with a club while the guard threatened him at gunpoint.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Samer Kurdi described the ambush and the assault:
Suddenly, about 7 to 10 settlers appeared on the hilltop while we were in the valley below, about 40 meters away. Their faces were covered with shirts, and they started throwing large stones and pushing boulders down at us. They were holding screwdrivers, sticks, clubs and stones. One of them, who had a rifle, stood watch over them. We felt in real danger and were scared.
We left our bikes and ran away on foot. A stone hit me in my left thigh, but I kept running because I was afraid to stop. As I was running, I tripped, and then two settlers who were chasing us reached me and blocked my path. One of them was the armed settler. He pointed his gun at me while the other, who was holding a black club, started hitting me in the legs. He tried to beat me in the ribs and upper body, and I shielded myself with my arms. When the beating intensified, I tried grab the club and snatch it from him, but the armed settler threatened me, so I stopped. Then the other settler stopped beating me.
Kurdi and Subuh noticed the settlement guard they had met before the incident standing on the hilltop next to his white pickup truck. They went up to ask for help, but he refused and signaled them to step back. They stayed put and watched what was happening from above.
Meanwhile, the settlers stole three of the bikes that had been left by the road and a cell phone attached to one of them, and then headed to Adei Ad. Subuh and Kurdi came down the hill with the security guard and joined their three friends, who were standing next to the other guard. They discovered that two of the cyclists had been injured: Samer had bruises and scratches all over his body, and Luai Mesleh (28) was injured in his right leg and in other body parts from the stone-throwing.
The settlement guards ordered the cyclists to leave, but they refused to go without their bikes. One of the guards returned to Adei Ad and came back after an hour with the three bikes, which settlers had vandalized meanwhile. At that point, a military patrol passed by. The soldiers asked the guards what had happened without addressing the victims. They photographed the bikes and Samer and Luai's injuries, and then ordered the Palestinians to leave. When they answered that they couldn't get home because their bikes had been damaged, the soldiers asked the settlement guard to give them a ride in his pickup truck. He drove the three cyclists while Kurdi and Subuh rode on their bikes behind him.
When the group finally reached Turmusaya, at around midday, they were greeted by the head of the village council and other residents. The injured men were given first aid and driven back to Beir Zeit by taxi. After the Israel Police contacted Samer, the cyclists went to the Binyamin police station and filed a complaint against their assailants.