Israeli settlers and soldiers repeatedly attack a-Tamimi family on their farmland, April 2021
In March 2021, B’Tselem documented four cases in which settlers and soldiers repeatedly tried to drive members of the a-Tamimi family and other farmers from the village of Deir Nizam out of their land and damaged their property.
One of the plots owned by the a-Tamimi family lies near the entrance to the village of a-Nabi Saleh and the roading leading to the settlement of Halamish, which was established about 200 meters away. The Zvi Bar Yosef farm outpost was established on the outskirts of the settlement, about 1.5 kilometers from the plot. Since the establishment of the outpost, Palestinian farmers have been suffering from repeated attacks on them and on their property.
Detailed below are three incidents that took place on three consecutive days in early April 2021. In every case, settlers and soldiers assaulted members of the a-Tamimi family working the plot and tried to drive them out.
3 April 2021
On the morning of 3 April 2021, members of the a-Tamimi family and other residents came to put up a fence around the plot, after receiving funding from the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture. The goal was to protect the crops from the cattle herds that settlers lead onto the land. At around midday, soldiers arrived at the scene and ordered them to stop working. When the farmers demanded the soldiers show an official order prohibiting them from working their land, the soldiers contacted the Israeli DCO to settle the matter. After two hours, the soldiers informed the farmers they could continue working as long as they did not approach the road leading to Halamish, and left the area.
At around 5:00 P.M., about 10 settlers came to the plot from the direction of the Zvi Bar Yosef outpost. The settlers, some of whom were armed, began shouting at the farmers and demanding they leave the area. The farmers refused, and then the settlers moved away and summoned soldiers. Upon arrival, the soldiers demanded the farmers stop working, cursed at them, hurled stun grenades, and fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at them. Even after the farmers left the plot, the soldiers continued hurling stun grenades and firing tear gas canisters. They pepper-sprayed two of the farmers in the face, one of whom was already in his car.
4 April 2021
The next morning, about 15 Deir Nizam residents returned to the plot. While they were working, they saw the settlers who had harassed them the day before standing and watching them from a road overlooking the plot. A short while later, soldiers whom the settlers had summoned, according to witnesses, showed up again and ordered them to stop working until a representative of the Israeli DCO came and instructed them where they were allowed to work. The soldiers then left the area. The farmers waited until evening, but no DCO representative arrived and they eventually went home.
5 April 2021
The following morning, about 10 farmers returned to the plot and continued putting up the fence around it. At around 10:00, soldiers were again called to the scene by settlers according to witnesses. They again ordered the farmers to stop their work. After an argument, it was agreed that the farmers would again wait until Israeli DCO officials decided on the matter. At around midday, a military officer arrived and demanded to see the land ownership documents. The farmers presented him with the documents, but he ordered them to wait until the DCO reached a decision in order to avoid confrontation with the settlers. The officer then left, promising to leave a military jeep there to keep the peace until a decision was made. The farmers consented, but about half an hour later, the military jeep also left the area.
About 10 minutes after the jeep left, some five settlers came from the direction of the road near Halamish, invaded the plot and began uprooting the fence posts the farmers had put up two days earlier. The farmers immediately reported their actions to an Israeli DCO representative, who promised to send soldiers to the area and asked them to wait a few minutes. After waiting several minutes while the settlers continued destroying the fence, with no soldiers in sight, six farmers went over to the settlers, who had meanwhile been joined by about seven more settlers, some of them armed. The settlers starting hitting the farmers and throwing stones at them. The farmers tried to fend them off by throwing stones, until a settler they recognized threatened to shoot and hit two of them with his rifle, one in the shoulder and the other in the head. Two other farmers sustained head injuries from stones thrown by settlers.
At that point, several soldiers arrived and hurled stun grenades at the residents, who were forced to flee. Four of the injured farmers received first aid at the medical center in the neighboring village of Beit Rima.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 11 April 2021, Nader Ayoub (45), a US citizen born in the West Bank who had come to visit the a-Tamimi family, recounted how he and his relatives were attacked by settlers on 5 April 2021:
On Monday, 5 April 2021, at around 1:00 P.M., I brought drinks and biscuits to relatives of mine who were working land near the entrance to the village of a-Nabi Saleh. When I got there, they were in the middle of a confrontation with settlers. They were fighting with fists and stones. One of the settlers was armed. He was waving his rifle and threatening to shoot.
The minute I arrived, I saw my uncle on the ground with three settlers lying on top of him, beating him with fists and stones. I tried to help him, and then the settlers attacked me. I tried to defend myself, but one of them attacked me from behind and hit me in the back of my head with a rifle butt. It hurt very much and I felt dizzy. I lost balance and fell over. My uncles came over and got the settlers off me. After a few seconds, I managed to get up enough strength to stand up, but I was still wobbly. My uncle Munir was also injured and was bleeding from the back of the head. We both moved away a bit from the settlers.
I live in the US and was visiting my family in Deir Nizam. It took me one day to witness the settlers’ violence. I was shocked by the military’s cooperation with the criminals, backing them with no justification. I was advised to file a complaint, but I don’t believe it will lead to anything. There’s a Palestinian proverb that says: Who can you complain to when the judge himself is your opponent?
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 11 April 2021, Munir a-Tamimi (50), a married father of five from Deir Nizam, recalled how the soldiers joined in the settlers’ attack on 5 April 2021:
Half an hour later, a military jeep arrived. At first it was one patrol (car), and then four or five other patrols drove up. The soldiers help the settlers drive us out. In the beginning they threw stun grenades straight at us, threatened us and pushed us. They managed to get us to leave and tried unsuccessfully to confiscate Amjad’s camera. We heard the settlers egging them on and lying to them that we’d tried to snatch a weapon. We had to keep our heads down and back away.
We’re exposed to harassment and attacks whenever we work the farmland in this area. B’Tselem has documented some of these attacks, especially recent ones by settlers from the outposts headed by a settler who's well-known among area residents.