“The settlers came down from the hills armed with clubs, sticks, guns and knives. Some of them had dogs”
Settler attacks - including harassment of Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley, assaults on shepherds and expulsion of herds have long since become ubiquitous. They are part of the settlers’ efforts to take over Palestinian land. Ras al-A’uja, Jericho District, is home to several communities with dozens of families who live in tents, shacks and caravans, including Qabun and Khirbet Jab’it. Settlers came to these communities at night, stole sheep and threatened locals. The same thing happened in the community of a-Nuwei’mah, some six kilometers south of this area.
What happened in Ras al-A’uja on Friday, 21 February 2020, will remain in the memories of the locals and their children for some time: Dozens of settlers descended from the hills, on foot and by car. They tried to scatter the sheep grazing near the tents and invaded a tent belonging to the Zayed family. The family’s five children were inside at the time, and the community members, who were nearby, noticed and rushed to help them. The settlers, shouting they were looking for the young men of the community, surrounded the children and the adults who had come to their aid inside the tent, threatened and terrorized them, including with their-dogs. One of the settlers hit a local on the head with the butt of his rifle.
Residents of Ras al-A’uja tried to alert four soldiers and two police officers who were standing only about 100 meters away, but they refused to protect them or stop the settlers. It was not until the incident was drawing to an end, about two hours later, that they approached and told the settlers to leave.
‘Aishah Zayed, 46 and mother of six, spoke about the raid to B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh:
When I looked at the tent where my children were, I saw settlers armed with guns, knives and clubs. I ran over there, and when I got there, I saw the settlers made them all sit in the corner of the tent. They were shaking with fear. One settler asked, “Where are the guys”? I understood from that they were looking for the young men to attack them. Another settler threatened to set his assault dog on me. He kept releasing his leash so he can lunge in my direction and then pulled him back. The children were terrified and started screaming. One of the settlers went over to my daughters, Anwaar and Sawsan, who are 14 and 11, and scared them with his dog.
The settlers shouted at us and threatened to kill us, and then there was mutual shouting and hitting between us and them. One of them hit one of the guys from the community on the head with a rifle butt. It was awful. This nightmare went on for almost two hours.
‘Aishah Zayed’s husband, Hussein Zayed, 57 said:
The settlers came down from the hills armed with clubs, sticks, guns and knives. Some of them had dogs. Who can we complain to about them? Believe me, the military and the police stood not too far, and people asked them to intervene, but they refused! They want the settlers to kill us. They wait on the sidelines until someone hits a settler so they can arrest him and make his life miserable. People live in constant anxiety because everyone knows the settlers and the military work together. They’re all military.
You wake up one morning, and you have nowhere to go - on one side there are settlers, on the other military, there are no safe places anymore. Because of the fear, we don’t take the sheep out to pasture, and they stay shut-in in the pens, even though it’s our only source of income. Despite everything, this is where we live. We have no other place to go.
Ras al-A’uja, 21 February 2020 - armed settlers raid residential tent, terrorize women and children and beat residents.