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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

October 2020

7

Yatta, Hebron District: Settlers cut down 41 olive trees in resident’s plot

On Saturday morning, 7 October 2020, farmers notified Jibril Zein (51) that settlers had cut down some 41 seedlings he had planted in 2018. Zein reported the incident to the Israel Police, and officers arrived to take his statement and photograph the chopped trees. He has not heard anything from the police since.

The settlement of Mitzpe Yair was established in 1998 about 100 meters west of Zein’s plot.

An Olive tree harvested by settlers, ‘Ein Yabrud, 7 Oct. 2020. Photo by Samir Jabra.
An Olive tree harvested by settlers, ‘Ein Yabrud, 7 Oct. 2020. Photo by Samir Jabra.

‘Ein Yabrud, Ramallah District: Settlers harvest 70 ancient olive trees belonging to Palestinians, and steal the olives

On 7 October 2020, at around 9:00 A.M., a farmer from ‘Ein Yabrud noticed some five settlers harvesting olive trees on private land belonging to three farmers from the village. It later transpired that the settlers had started picking the olives two days earlier and altogether stole the fruit off 70 trees, which are 100 years old.

As the olives could have produced some 900 liters of oil, the theft cost the owner tens of thousands of shekels. The settlers also vandalized the trees, which could damage their yield next season. One of the farmers went to the police station in Beit El to file a complaint, but the officers refused to register it and advised him to return to his land to harvest the remaining fruit.

The groves from which the olives were stolen lie west of ‘Ein Yabrud. The settlement of Beit El was established in 1977 west of them. 

4

Kafr a-Dik, Salfit District: Settler damages eight mature olive trees

'Othmaniyah ‘Omari (69) is a mother of seven from Kafr a-Dik. On Sunday, 4 October 2020, she arrived at her plot of land and discovered that in all likelihood settlers had cut the branches of eight olive trees. ‘Omari inherited the plot from her father and tends to 22 ancient olive trees on it, which are about 100 years old.

The settlement of Bruchin was established in 1999 close to the plot, on land belonging to the village of Bruqin. As, unlike other farmers, ‘Omari is not required to coordinate her arrival with the Israeli DCO, she reported the damage to the village council.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, 'Othmaniyah ‘Omari described the scene she found in her olive grove:

I went to my plot to clear around the olive trees, in preparation for the harvest. When I got there, I found that settlers had cut down the branches of eight trees. I was very sad and angry to see the branches like that. When we last went to the grove, in August, all the trees were fine. I went home with tears in my eyes and told my husband and kids. We notified the council, but we didn’t file a report because there’s no security coordination between the Palestinians and the Israeli at the moment.

3
Murad a-Najar, after settlers attacked him during surveying work he did in Huwarah. Photo by the a-Najar family
Murad a-Najar, after settlers attacked him during surveying work he did in Huwarah. Photo by the a-Najar family

Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers stone Palestinian surveyors working near village

On 11 August 2020, settlers attacked two Palestinian engineers who were measuring land west of Huwarah as part of a survey of the village’s registered land. On Saturday morning, 3 October 2020, settlers again attacked surveyors working on the project.  

When Murad a-Najar (47) and two other surveyors arrived at the location they’d been asked to measure, they immediately noticed settlers running towards them from the direction of the settlement of Yitzhar. The three men grabbed their equipment and ran away, with the settlers chasing after them and throwing stones. One of the stones hit a-Najar in the back and he fell to the ground, but he managed to get up and run towards homes in the village. At that point, the settlers drew back. The two other surveyors, who reached the village before a-Najar, notified the village council head and he arrived with several residents.

A-Najar was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he was examined and X-rayed. He was given painkillers and discharged.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 7 October 2020, Murad a-Najar (47), a father of six from Burin, described the attack:

I own a company that provides surveying and engineering services. On Saturday, at around 10:30 A.M., I went with two other surveyors to measure land in the western part of Huwarah, about 500 meters away from the village homes and 700 meters from the settlement of Yitzhar.  

Suddenly, about seven settlers came running towards us from the direction of Yitzhar. I told the other two surveyors that we had to run for it. They grabbed the equipment and started running, and I followed behind them. The settlers chased us and shouted something in Hebrew. I didn’t understand what they were saying. They started throwing stones at us and one of them hit me in the back. I fell over. It was very painful, but I had to get up and keep running because if they’d caught me, they would’ve kept throwing stones and not let me go.

I kept running until I got away from them and reached the village homes.

2

Kafr Qadum, Qalqiliyah District: Settler harvest 32 trees and steal the crop

On Monday, 2 November 2020, the Barham family arrived at their olive grove that stretches over 23 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters]. The neighborhood of Mitzpe Yishay, which belongs to the settlement of Kedumim (built on village land in 1975), was established near the grove.

Due to the proximity to the settlement, the military permits the family to access their grove only on days coordinated by the Israeli DCO. This year, the military decided they could access their land from 2 to 9 November 2020. When they reached the grove, the family discovered that settlers had already harvested 32 out of 230 olive trees and fled with the stolen fruit.

September 2020

26

Qusrah, Nablus District: Israeli settlers attack farmers, damage chicken coops and kill over 300 chickens

On 26 Sep. 2020, settlers stoned a family working its land near the village of Qusrah and vandalized 12 olive trees belonging to another family.

They stoned two chicken coops on the outskirts of the village, damaged water container s and pipes – causing the death of over 300 chickens and chicks – and tried unsuccessfully to torch a tractor and a truck.

They were accompanied by soldiers who fired tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets at villagers who tried to help the victims.

17
Cut down trees in a-Sawiyah, 17 September 2020.  Photo: Odeh al-Khatib
Cut down trees in a-Sawiyah, 17 September 2020. Photo: Odeh al-Khatib

A-Sawiyah, Nablus District: Settlers break dozens of olive tree branches and uproot 42 olive seedlings

About two years ago, ‘Odeh al-Khatib (59), a married father of seven from the village of a-Sawiyah, planted 42 olive seedlings in his plot, which lies about three kilometers west of the village homes. Since then, he watered the seedlings every three days.

On Thursday, 17 September 2020, al-Khatib came to his plot and discovered that settlers had uprooted his seedlings and broken dozens of olive tree branches in adjacent plots owned by other villagers. Al-Khatib called the head of the village council and reported the damage.

The settlement of Nofei Nehemia was established about 400 meters from the plots.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, al-Khatib described what happened next:

The day after the incident, the council head called me and told me that Israeli DCO staff would come to the area. I refused to meet them there because I’m certain that they have no intention of doing anything. I don’t want to go to my plot again and see my little seedlings uprooted and withered.

It should be mentioned that there’s a settler ranch, Nofei Nehemia, that split off from the settlement of Rehelim and is only about 400 to 500 meters away.  Since the day it was built, settlers have damaged olive trees in the area several times. My plot is in an area defined as Area B and doesn’t require security coordination to reach it, but it’s still not protected from the settlers’ violent attacks.

11

Hebron: Israeli teens stone Palestinian home in Hebron and harass female owner

The Da’na family lives in the Al-Harika neighborhood of Hebron, next to which the settlement of Kiryat Arba was established in 1972. The residents of the neighborhood have been suffering from repeated attacks and harassment by settlers and daily raids by soldiers, as documented by B’Tselem. On 11 September 2020, youth from the settlement stoned the family’s home. When Mai Da’na began to film the attack from the window of her home, the settlers swore at her and undressed in front of her.

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Cut down trees in Ras Karkar, 9 September 2020
Cut down trees in Ras Karkar, 9 September 2020

Ras Karkar, Ramallah District: Settlers exploit military restriction on farmer’s access to land to damage over 200 olive trees


On Wednesday morning, 9 September 2020, a farmer from the village of Ras Karkar discovered that settlers had damaged 20 olive trees, which were 50 years old, on his land northeast of the village. The military only permits him to access the land after prior coordination.

The settlement of Nerya was established in 1991 not far from there.

The farmer received permission to return to his land only a week later, and discovered that settlers had damaged another 170 or so olive trees.

7

Israeli soldiers guard settler entering Khirbet a-Tuba allegedly looking for stolen sheep

On the night of 7 Sep. 2020, about ten settlers came with an escort of soldiers to the Palestinian community of Khirbet a-Tuba in the South Hebron Hills to allegedly search for stolen sheep. One of the settlers entered the community’s territory guarded by soldiers and roamed around as he pleased, until leaving without finding anything.

The settlement of Ma’on was established in 2001 about a kilometer from the community of Khirbet a-Tuba.

6

Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers invade Palestinian family’s yard and smash windows and slash tires of two cars

On 6 Sep. 2020, at around 3:00 A.M., eight settlers were recorded on security cameras as they vandalized cars at the rear parking lot of the S’adeh family home in the western neighborhood of Huwarah. The settlers punctured three tires and smashed the windshield and rear window of the family’s car and another vehicle parked in front of their home.

On 6 September 2020, at around 3:30 A.M., eight settlers were captured on security cameras vandalizing cars in the S’adeh family’s yard in the western neighborhood of Huwarah. The settlers punctured three tires and smashed the windshield and rear window of the family’s car and of another vehicle parked out front.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 6 September 2020, Salam S’adeh (44), a mother of five, recounted:

I was woken by sounds outside. I got out of bed in our bedroom, which is on the second floor, and went out to the balcony overlooking the yard. I saw a group of settlers there but when I came out, they ran away.

After they left, I went down to the first floor and looked out the windows to make sure they hadn’t burned anything. When I saw everything was okay, I checked on the children and went back to bed. I didn’t wake my husband or my eldest son, Qaisar, because they both had to get up early for work. I tried to go back to sleep, but I was too worried the settlers would come back. Every time I fell asleep, I woke up again and looked outside to make sure they hadn’t returned.

At around 5:00 A.M., after I woke my husband up to get ready for work, I told him what had happened. We went outside and found the windshield and rear window of our car smashed. There were stones scattered on the ground. There was also damage to the chassis.
 
Qaisar and I checked the security camera footage and saw a recording of eight settlers entering the yard. One settler punctured three of the car’s tires and then some others threw stones at the car and ran away. A neighbor’s car was parked out front and they smashed its windshield and rear window, too.  

My husband called the village council in the morning and notified them, but no one came.

I can’t believe this happened to us. It’s the first time settlers have attacked us. I keep thinking they could have easily burned down our car or our house! I can’t stop thinking about the Dawabsheh family the settlers firebombed five years ago in the village of Duma. They wiped out an entire family: a mother, father and son. Only one child survived.

Right now, the most important thing is that we emerged safe and sound, and I don’t care about anything else. You can be compensated for damage, but not for losing someone.

Uprooted olive seedling in Turmusaya, 6 September 2020. Photo: Iyad Hadad
Uprooted olive seedling in Turmusaya, 6 September 2020. Photo: Iyad Hadad

Turmusaya, Ramallah District: Settlers uproot olive seedlings and steal parts of fence around plot

On Sunday, 6 September 2020, farmers from the village of Turmusaya discovered that settlers had uprooted more than 40 olive seedlings, which were three years old, from farmland east of the village.

In an adjacent plot, settlers had uprooted and stolen four vine seedlings and ten olive seedlings, which were three years old. They also vandalized a 40-meter-long fence and stole its gate, along with 15 iron posts. The settlement of Adei Ad was established about a kilometer from the plot.

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A soldier confronts settler children who threw stones at Palestinians in Tel Rumeidah, Hebron, 5 Sep. 2020. Photo: Nadiah Jaber.
A soldier confronts settler children who threw stones at Palestinians in Tel Rumeidah, Hebron, 5 Sep. 2020. Photo: Nadiah Jaber.

Tel Rumeidah, Hebron: Dozens of settlers stone Palestinian family, injuring two members, and surround their house for hours

On Saturday afternoon, 5 September 2020, at around 5:00 P.M., Palestinian brothers Muhammad (12) and Ahmad (14) Jaber were flying a kite near their home in the Tel Rumeidah neighborhood of Hebron. They let go and the kite landed in a nearby military camp set up on a-Shuhada Street. A soldier was about to hand it back when a child from the nearby settlement came up and broke it, while it was still in the soldier’s hands. The soldier gave the broken kite back to the two brothers and removed the young settler. A few minutes later, a teenager who looked about 15 years old arrived from the direction of the settlement and started throwing stones at the brothers.

Muhammad and Ahmad’s parents, who were watching from their rooftop, shouted at the teen to stop throwing stones and went over to protect their children. At that point, dozens of settlers arrived and started throwing stones at the family, who were forced to run inside, some into their home and others into a neighbor’s house. One of the stones hit Lana Jaber (15) in the leg and another hit Zahreyeh a-Natsheh, a neighbor who was sitting outside her home, in the chest. Dozens of soldiers were summoned to the area and distanced the settlers, who nevertheless stayed in the vicinity until around 10:00 P.M.  

At that point, an Israel Police patrol car arrived. The officers took statements from the Jaber family and advised them to go to the police station in Kiryat Arba to file a complaint. A Red Crescent ambulance took the two injured women to a hospital in Hebron, where they were examined, treated and discharged.

In her testimony, Ayala Jaber (41), a married mother of six, related:

My husband, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Jaber, and I have lived in this area for ten years and suffer attacks by settlers all the time. They increase on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays. We have six children between the ages of 8 and 17, and the settlers often attack them when they pass through a-Shuhada Street on their way to school or to buy groceries. We’re also harassed by soldiers at the checkpoints, especially at the Beit Hadassah Checkpoint (a-Shuhada). It has a locked gate that blocks passage to our house and the soldiers only let people through after they check their names on a list.   

On Saturday, my husband and I were on our roof while our sons, Ahmad and Muhammad, were playing with a kite in the back yard. The kite flew into the military camp opposite our house, on a-Shuhada Street. The kids called out to one of the soldiers and asked him to hand them the kite back. He was about to hand it over when a settler kid who looked  about 10 years old broke it. The soldier removed the kid and gave the broken kite back to my sons.

At that point, another kid from the settlement who looked about 15 came up and started throwing stones at my boys. My husband started yelling at him and we both rushed out to the street. Dozens of settlers between the ages of 10 and 25 started attacking us with stones. Then about 40 soldiers showed up, apparently called there by the first soldier, and started to drive the settlers away.

We ran to escape the stones, and on the way, one of them hit my daughter Lana in the leg. She was in pain and could barely walk. We made it into the yard, but even though the soldiers tried to make the settlers leave, they kept throwing stones at our homes and at other houses in the neighborhood.  

Our neighbor Um Haitham was sitting outside her home and was hit by a stone. They also stoned another neighbor’s house .The settlers stayed on the street until around 10:00 P.M., when  a police car with four officers drove up. One of the officers spoke Arabic. They took our statements and told us to go file a complaint at the station.

About a half hour later, a Red Crescent ambulance came for Lana and our neighbor, and I rode with them to Muhammed ‘Ali al-Muhtaseb Hospital. They were examined and treated, and we left there at around 11:00 P.M. When we got home, we saw that the settlers had already left but several soldiers were still next to our house.

3
Shattered windshield in the Hamayel family's car after settler attack near the Eli intersection, 30 Sep. 2020. Photo by Iyad Hadad
Shattered windshield in the Hamayel family's car after settler attack near the Eli intersection, 30 Sep. 2020. Photo by Iyad Hadad

Settlers stone Palestinian cars for hours on Route 60 near settlement of Eli

On Thursday evening, 3 September 2020, dozens of settlers blocked a lane on Route 60 near the turnoff to the settlement of Eli. They threw stones at passing Palestinian cars and tried to block their way. Some of the stones hit passengers or the cars.

According to testimonies given by B’Tselem, soldiers were present in the area and came to the spot at least twice, yet did nothing to protect the passengers or stop the settlers from throwing stones. In at least one case, the Israel Police was notified but did not arrive.

This is no exception. It is part of routine, daily conduct by Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank that has been going on for many years. Israel’s policy enables these acts of violence towards Palestinians, even when they result in predictable injury to life and limb, as well as damage to property. In this case, too, although the Israeli authorities knew that settlers were throwing stones at Palestinians on a major highway, they chose not to intervene.

The attacks went on for several hours.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 6 September 2020, ‘Abir Snobar (Hamayel) described the attack on the family’s car:

On Thursday night, 3 September 2020, at around 8:30 P.M., we were on the way home from my parents in the village of Yatma. As we neared the turnoff to the settlement of Eli, I saw two cars with Israeli license plates parked in the right lane, which we were driving in. We kept going until we got close to them. At first, I thought it was a car accident.

My husband Saleh and I were sitting in the backseat. I was on the left side and he was on the right. My father-in-law, Musa, who was driving, slowed down. As we got closer, we understood that the road was being intentionally blocked by about 40 settlers spread out on both sides of the road. Some of them were wearing masks and black clothes. They were holding signs, but I don’t know what they were protesting about.

We were scared. My mother-in-law said to her husband, “Get out, go around them. Don’t stop, they’ll kill us!” As soon as my father-in-law started driving around the two cars blocking the traffic, our car was hit by a hail of stones. They hit us on all four sides. We panicked.

I’m nine months pregnant and I was terrified. I tried to duck down and hide as much as I could, but it was hard with my big belly. Within seconds, a stone came through the right window and hit me in the head. It was big, the size of an orange, and landed next to me. I screamed, “My head! My head!” My husband saw I was bleeding badly. He took his shirt off and wrapped it around my head.

They kept on throwing stones at us for about 30 meters, until we got through the stretch of road where the settlers were standing, and then it was over. It looked like every single one of them was holding stones to throw at us. As soon as we got away, my father-in-law phoned friends from the village and asked them to call an ambulance.

I was really shaken, and I think it made my blood pressure drop. I felt cramps in my stomach and was shaking all over. I burst into tears because I was afraid for my baby and started screaming for someone to call an ambulance. My husband tried to calm me down.

A few minutes later, we reached the medical clinic in Turmusaya. We waited for about 20 minutes until the ambulance came and took my husband, my mother-in-law and me to the Mujama Falastin Medical Center, where I was examined, X-rayed and given an ultrasound. There was a gash in my head about five centimeters long and it needed nine stitches.

Ever since, I’ve felt really bad. I’m stressed and anxious all the time. I’m really scared of leaving the village. The attack happened just after I came out of self-isolation at home after visiting America with my husband and in-laws. The visit to my parents in Yatma was our first outing. We wanted to see them after two years of being away and missing them a lot. The settlers’ brutal attack destroyed our peace of mind and deprived us of our most basic right: to move around freely and travel safely.

August 2020

28
The torched car of the ‘Assayreh family, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 28 Aug. 2020. Photo: courtesy of village council
The torched car of the ‘Assayreh family, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 28 Aug. 2020. Photo: courtesy of village council

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers torch car and spray hate-graffiti on Palestinian home

On Friday night, 28 August 2020, at around 2:30 A.M., settlers torched the ‘Assayreh family’s car, which was parked near their home in the southern neighborhood of the village. Lama’ Assayreh (21) awoke to the sound of an explosion and woke her parents, Wael and Suhair (both 47). Lama’s sisters, Lana (14) and Lin (5), were also woken by the commotion outside. The family put out the fire and discovered that settlers had also sprayed their wall with a slogan: “Jewish blood is not cheap.”

Wael ’Assayreh notified the village council of the incident and at midday, Israeli military officers, DCO personnel and police officers arrived at the house. The latter took ‘Assayreh’s statement and photographed the torched car, which he had bought only two months earlier.

In a testimony she gave on 30 August 2020, Lama ‘Assayreh described what happened to her family that night:  

I was woken by noises outside my bedroom window, but went back to sleep. A few seconds later, I heard an explosion. I jumped out of bed, looked out, and saw my father’s car burning. I rushed to my parents’ room and woke them up. Then I went outside without even thinking, to put the fire out before the gas tank exploded and caused a disaster.

My sisters, Lana and Lin, woke up and we all helped my dad bring water from the container in the yard to put out the fire. Then, we noticed graffiti in Hebrew on our fence. The whole thing terrified me: I thought about what would’ve happened if the settlers had attacked us while we were inside the house. Our home is far from the rest of the village houses.  

I couldn’t sleep that night or the night after. I keep remembering the flames reflected on the ceiling of my room on the night of the fire. I can’t forget that sight or the noises I heard outside. It was a horrible night. My little sister Lin asked if they’re going to burn down our house. She’s become very nervous since it happened.

We don’t feel safe in our own home and are thinking about building a wall around us, so that no one can reach us. I asked my dad to install security cameras so we can see what’s going on around the house.

22
Cut down olive trees in Khirbet a-Tawamin, 22 Aug. 2020. Photo: Nasser Nawaj’ah, B’Tselem
Cut down olive trees in Khirbet a-Tawamin, 22 Aug. 2020. Photo: Nasser Nawaj’ah, B’Tselem

Khirbet a-Tawamin, South Hebron Hills: Settlers cut down 300 olive trees and destroy irrigation system

Barakat Mor (60), a father of 11, is a farmer from the Palestinian community of Khirbet a-Tawamin in the South Hebron Hills. On Saturday, 22 August 2020, he arrived at his plot, which lies southeast of the settlement of Susiya. He discovered that settlers had cut down 300 fruit-yielding olive trees with a chainsaw, destroyed part of an irrigation system connected to a well and torn down a shade sail he had put up for resting.

Mor called the Israel Police. About 15 minutes later, officers arrived, took a statement from him and asked him to file a complaint at the police station in Kiryat Arba. Mor followed their advice, but as of 6 June 2020 has not heard any update about an investigation.

15
‘Asirah al-Qibliyah
‘Asirah al-Qibliyah

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack village homes twice in one day

On Saturday, 15 August 2020, settlers attacked homes belonging to the ‘Omari family in two separate incidents. At around 4:00 P.M., two settlers drew near the home of Rafiq and Anis ‘Omari, threw stones at it for several minutes and left, heading towards the settlement of Yitzhar. At around 6:00 P.M., about 15 settlers arrived and started throwing stones at another of the family’s homes. Several soldiers who were escorting them fired tear gas canisters and hurled stun grenades at the residents who came out to defend their homes. Even after the settlers had left, the soldiers continued firing and only left the area at around 8:00 P.M.

In a testimony she gave on 16 August 2020, Maysaa ‘Omari described the attack on her home:

Yesterday, around 4:00 P.M., I was on the roof with my husband and sons when I saw two settlers standing a few meters away from the house my sons Rafiq and Anis live in. The settlers threw stones at the house and then ran towards the settlement. Around two hours later, about 15 settlers came from the direction of Yitzhar with three or four soldiers. The settlers threw stones at our house and the soldiers fired tear gas and threw stun grenades at us and at other residents who came out to defend the houses. Several tear gas canisters landed on our roof and in our yard. I didn’t know what to do. Rafiq, his wife and their three little boys, who are three, four and five, were at our house and so was Anis’s wife, who’s nine months pregnant. I looked for a safe room, as far as possible from the smell of gas, and took onions, water and yeast with me. I turned on the fan and closed the windows. The soldiers kept firing tear gas at us even after the settlers left for the settlement.

Things only calmed down after 8:00 P.M., when it got dark and the soldiers left. We couldn’t sleep all night for fear the settlers and soldiers would come back. The settlers have vandalized our cars in the past, and we feared they’d do something similar again. My young children and my little nephews, including 3-year-old Ra’d, keep asking me if they’ll come back and use tear gas against us.

Whenever we try to forget about the bad things that happened to us, the situation repeats itself and gets worse every time.

13
Torched bulldozer in the quarry of ‘Urif, 13 Aug. 2020. Photo: Muhammad Sayel, B’Tselem volunteer
Torched bulldozer in the quarry of ‘Urif, 13 Aug. 2020. Photo: Muhammad Sayel, B’Tselem volunteer

‘Urif and Yasuf, Nablus District: Settlers torch bulldozers, spray hate-graffiti and slash tires of five cars

On Thursday, 13 August 2020, shortly after midnight, residents of ‘Urif discovered that settlers had torched a bulldozer parked at a quarry near the village. When they went to put out the fire, they noticed graffiti sprayed on a boulder: “Demolition will lead to destruction.”

At 5:00 A.M., residents of the eastern neighborhood of Yasuf, which lies south of ‘Urif, discovered that settlers had punctured the tires of five cars. They had also sprayed the walls of the nearby village council building and kindergarten with two inscriptions: “Israel lives (Am Yisrael Chai)” and “Go to the enemy.” 

Hate graffiti on building wall in Yasuf, 13 Aug. 2020. Photo: Muhammad Sayel, B’Tselem volunteer

The village of Yasuf and the adjacent village of Iskaka are surrounded by settlements: Tapuach (about 800 meters to the north-east), Rehelim (about a kilometer and a half to the south-east), Nofei Nehemia (about a kilometer to the west) and Ariel (about two kilometers to the east).

The night before, dozens of settlers had attacked Border Police forces evacuating the Shevach Haaretz outpost near Yitzhar.

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers stone Palestinian homes; soldiers fire tear gas and throw stun grenades at villagers

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.

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Mustafa Masri who was injured fleeing from settlers who chased and shot at him, Huwarah, 11 Aug. 2020. Photo: Hassan Qadus.
Mustafa Masri who was injured fleeing from settlers who chased and shot at him, Huwarah, 11 Aug. 2020. Photo: Hassan Qadus.

Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers chase Palestinian surveyors, shoot in the air and throw stones at them

On Tuesday morning, 11 August 2020, at around 9:00 A.M., two Palestinian engineers from the al-‘Amru Engineering Consulting company measured land in the western part of Huwarah as part of a survey of the village’s registered land. The two, Mustafa Masri (30) and Hassan Qadus (32), live in the nearby village of Burin. They then moved on to a nearby plot, which lies about 50 meters from the security road leading to the settlement of Yitzhar. The settlement was established in 1983 on land belonging to Huwarah and neighboring villages.

At around midday, the two surveyors noticed a white jeep speeding towards them from the direction of Yitzhar. The jeep stopped on the road about 100 meters away from them and four settlers got out. One was carrying an M-16 rifle. Fearing an attack, the two started running towards Huwarah. The settlers gave chase, firing in the air, throwing stones at them, swearing at them and calling them to stop. Several stones hit Masri and he fell over, but the two managed to escape.

When they reached a swimming pool on the outskirts of Huwarah, the pool staff called an ambulance for Masri, who was suffering severe pain in his leg and could barely stand. He was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he was treated and discharged.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Mustafa Masri described the settlers’ attack:

Around midday, Hassan Qadus and I were measuring a plot when a white jeep suddenly drove up from the direction of the security road that leads to Yitzhar. I was standing by the road, about 50 meters from a military watchtower and about 100 meters from a group of soldiers.

The jeep stopped on the road and four settlers jumped out and started shouting. I feared for our measuring equipment, because settlers have attacked surveyors before and the device we use costs about 85,000 shekels (~25,000 USD). When I saw them running and yelling, I told Hassan, “Take the device and try to get away. Run and don’t look back.”

The settlers started chasing me and then I heard two shots. I heard the bullets hitting stones and the stones exploding. I can still hear the sound ringing in my ears as if it’s happening right now. I dropped to the ground and lay flat so I wouldn’t get hit. Hassan heard the shots, and he stopped and turned around because he was afraid I’d been hurt. I told him, “Run, I’m right behind you, hurry.”

I took a different route to draw the settlers away from Hassan and the equipment. I ran along a rocky path between hills and boulders, but they kept throwing stones at me. Some of the stones hit me in the left arm and leg. I had to keep going. I knew that if the settlers caught me, they might kill me. They were very agitated.

When I got to a stretch of uneven land, I stumbled and fell over. The settlers threw stones at me again, but I managed to get up and run away. I ran until I reached a swimming pool in Huwarah. I could hardly breathe, I was so terrified and exhausted. The pool staff helped me, and only then I noticed that my knees were bleeding. I was in shock. I wanted to call Hassan but couldn’t find my phone. I must have dropped it while I was running. After that, Hassan came to the pool, too, and reassured me, “Don’t worry, I made it safely with the equipment.”

I couldn’t stand up. I had terrible pain in my legs, arm and lower back. The staff called an ambulance that took me to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus.

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