May 2021: Two Palestinians were fatally shot in two joint attacks by settlers and soldiers in the villages of Iskaka and Urif - Awad Harb and Nidal Safadi
On 14 May 2021, settlers and soldiers invaded two villages, ‘Urif and Iskaka, in two incidents. The settlers, some armed, threw stones at homes and residents, who came out to defend themselves by throwing stones. In both villages, settlers and soldiers fired live rounds, injuring of 12 residents and killing two: ‘Awad Harb in Iskaka and Nidal Safadi in ‘Urif. Collusion between soldiers and settlers in the attacks on Palestinians has long been part of the routine in the West Bank that endangers the lives, property, and wellbeing of the villagers.
Maghayir al-‘Abid, Masafer Yatta: Settlers attack father and son laying a water line for the community, severely beating them with sticks and iron pipes
On 2 July 2021, at around 2:00 A.M., settlers attacked Muslem Abu Hameid (54) and his son Marwan (18), residents of the town of Yatta, with iron pipes and stones while the elder Abu Hameid was digging a trench for a water line several hundred meters south of the community of Maghayir al-‘Abid in Masafer Yatta, South Hebron Hills. After severely beating the two, injuring them, and smashing one of their car windows, the settlers fled the scene.
Another Palestinian working in the area drove the two in his car to a Red Crescent ambulance that took them to the ‘Alia Governmental Hospital in Hebron, where they were examined and X-rayed. The two suffered severe bruises to all parts of their body. Muslem was also wounded in the head and required stitches. At around 3:00 A.M., they were discharged, but Marwan had to return to the hospital after vomiting and suffering severe abdominal pain. He was hospitalized for observation until 8:00 P.M.
Israel denies residents of Masafer Yatta communities, who had lived in the area before the occupation began, access to running water and electricity. In recent years, B’Tselem has documented the repeated destruction of pipelines laid by the Palestinian Authority to supply water for residents of the communities in the area.
This is the third settler attack on the community of Maghayir al-‘Abid that B’Tselem has documented since early May 2021. The settlement of Ma’on and the outpost of Havat Ma’on were established about 2.5 kilometers northwest of the community. The residents of the Masafer Yatta area have been suffering repeated attacks by settlers and soldiers as part of Israel’s routine harassment of Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, and in Masafer Yatta in particular, in the state’s bid to expel them from their homes and area of residence.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash on 8 July 2021, Muslem Abu Hameid (54), a married father of 10 from the town of Yatta, described the attack on him and his son:
I live and Yatta and work at the Yatta Municipality as a bulldozer operator. In recent days, I’ve been working on a project carried out by the Masafer Yatta Council to lay a water line for the Maghayir al-‘Abid community, east of Yatta. We work at night so that the military and the settlers won’t notice us and stop the project.
On 2 July 2021, we went out to work at around 8:00 P.M. I was with my son Marwan, who came to drive me there and back, the project manager and three other workers. At 1:45 A.M., as I was digging with the bulldozer, I saw a fire on a hill near Maghayir al-‘Abid, not far from us. I aimed the tractor lights there, and at first, I didn’t see anyone. But then I suddenly saw seven or eight settlers coming down from the hill and advancing towards us.
They turned towards our car, where my son Marwan was sitting, about 100 meters away from me. He was waiting for me to finish working. I drove the tractor towards Marwan, but the settlers reached him before me, attacked him, and then fled. When I stopped the tractor to get off, another group of masked settlers suddenly appeared. There were eight of them. They started throwing stones at me while I was sitting on the bulldozer. I fell to the ground, and three of them attacked me with sticks. I got hit in the head and the right hand. Then a fourth settler attacked me from behind, put his stick on my neck and started pressing hard, but I managed to break free from him and escape. The settlers also ran off.
When the settlers attacked me, the bulldozer’s engine was still running. Apparently, after I fell, they slid it into the valley. It all happened so quickly, within a minute or two, and none of the other workers managed to reach us and help us before the settlers fled. I went over to Marwan and saw that he was unconscious. He was injured in the legs, arms and head. Marwan later told me that the first settlers smashed a window in the car and then attacked him inside the car with pipes.
The project manager drove us in his car to a Bedouin village in the area, where we were met by Red Crescent ambulance that took us to the ‘Alia Governmental Hospital. We got to the hospital at around 3:00 A.M. Marwan and I were examined and X-rayed, and it turned out that I had a deep wound on the top of my head, which was stitched up. I also had bruises on both hands. Marwan had sharp pains in the head, leg, arm and chest. We were discharged in the morning, but when we got home, Marwan had to go back to the hospital because he vomited and had extreme stomach pains.
A-Tuwani, Masafer Yatta: Settlers stone Palestinian home, injuring resident lightly in the head
On Saturday afternoon, 24 July 2021, settlers arrived with a military escort from the direction of the Givat Ma’on outpost and stoned the home of the Rab’i family in the village. One member of the family was injured lightly in the head and was treated on the spot by a Palestinian Red Crescent crew who were called to the village. Only after village residents gathered near the home and tried to fend off the settlers by throwing stones, did the soldiers drive them away while firing tear gas at the residents.
The residents of a-Tuwani, like other communities in the Masafer Yatta area, are repeatedly attacked by settlers and soldiers as part of Israel’s routine harassment of Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, and in Masafer Yatta in particular, in its bid to expel them from their homes and area of residence.
Susiya, South Hebron Hills: Settlers stone shepherds on village land
On the afternoon of 22 July 2021, about six settlers stoned several Palestinians who were grazing their flocks on village land. The shepherds were forced to move away from the area, for fear they would be harmed.
The settlement of Susiya was established about 200 meters away from the pastureland of Khirbet Susiya.
The Israeli military expelled the residents of Khirbet Susiya from their village in 1986 and they relocated to their farmland. Since then, the military and the settlers have been trying to drive them out of there, too.
Jaber neighborhood, Hebron: Settlers harass residents for two days and attack them with stones and pepper spray in front of soldiers
On 9 July 2021, at around 8:30 P.M., about five teens from a settlement in Hebron entered the Jaber neighborhood in the city center. They began throwing stones at homes and pounding on doors. The teens shouted and swore at the residents in full view of soldiers, claiming stones had been thrown at them. Within minutes, they were joined by about 15 other settlers, many of them adults and at least two of them armed. The teens continued to throw stones at homes. The two armed settlers threatened resident Suzan Jaber, a volunteer with B'Tselem's camera project, who was filming the incident from her window. A police cruiser and two military jeeps arrived at the scene, but the officers and soldiers did not remove the settlers from the neighborhood or detain any of them.
At one point, five soldiers went up to the roof of Suzan Jaber's house and demanded that four members of her family, including two minors, go down to the street with them. The soldiers questioned the young Palestinians about stone-throwing and let them go after about 10 minutes. They then left the neighborhood along with the settlers.
In this incident, as in many other incidents B'Tselem has documented in Hebron and elsewhere in the West Bank, soldiers escorted violent settlers, allowed them to do as they pleased and threatened and harassed Palestinians.
In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari on 9 July 2021, Suzan Jaber, a mother of seven, recounted what happened that night:
On Friday, 9 July 2021, at around 8:30 P.M., I was sitting with my family on our balcony, which overlooks the street. We were eating and talking when suddenly, we heard noise and shouting outside. I quickly climbed the stairs to the roof and asked my daughter Hanin to get me my camera. When I got to the roof, I saw about five young settlers throwing stones at the neighbors' houses and pounding on the doors aggressively, including on the door of our neighbor, Wajih Jaber. There were about five soldiers on the street and they were trying to prevent the settlers from pounding on the doors, but not seriously. Instead, the soldiers prevented Wajih Jaber from reaching his house.
Meanwhile, about four young Palestinians started to verbally confront the settlers. More settlers arrived, two of them in their thirties and armed. The settlers started throwing stones in every direction, including at my house. I tried to film what was happening. The two armed settlers aimed their weapons at me. My son Ahmad pulled me inside the house, because he was afraid they'd shoot me.
A few minutes later, five soldiers came up to the roof and started accusing us of throwing stones at the settlers. I pointed to the table and told them we’d been sitting eating ice cream and hadn’t attacked anyone, and that the settlers were the ones who attacked us. One of the soldiers insisted on taking all the young guys who had been on the roof at that time down to the street. I refused at first, but my husband's cousin talked me into it. I kept on filming the soldiers while they led my sons, Muhammad (20) and Ahmad (13), and our relatives Mu'tasem (28) and Safwan (16) out to the street. The soldiers detained them there for about 10 minutes and let them go. Then the soldiers and settlers left the neighborhood.
Wajih Jaber (42), a father of seven, was out on the street when the settlers and soldiers entered the neighborhood. The soldiers prevented him from reaching his house, and a dog the settlers had with them tried to attack his wife, Ramyeh Jaber (37). In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari, Ramyeh Jaber related:
The settlers always attack us, especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays. The last time was on the evening of 9 July 2021. My husband Wajih was on the street with his friends and I was sitting in the yard with our three little girls, who are three, five and nine. I heard shouting and noise outside, and stones started landing in our yard. I opened the front gate, which leads to the street, to see what was going on. I saw a lot of young settlers. Some of them were attacking a young guy from the neighborhood in front of about five soldiers. One of the soldiers started yelling at me to go into the house and close the door. I saw my husband about 50 meters away, trying to get to the young guy and help him, but the soldiers were holding him back. I stayed standing in the doorway and asked the soldiers to allow my husband to get home.
Suddenly, a giant dog attacked me. It belonged to the settlers and had no leash or muzzle. I was terrified and tried to go back, but I fell down and was badly hit in the back of my head and in my right shoulder. My girls were screaming and crying in fear. Meanwhile, my husband arrived, picked the dog up and threw him aside. Then he helped me up. My right elbow hurt a lot. The next day, the settlers attacked neighborhood homes again.
My shoulder and wrist still hurt, and my girls are anxious and stressed. They're afraid to sleep without me and wet the bed at night.
The following evening, 10 July 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., more than 10 teens from the settlement came to the neighborhood, escorted by about 10 soldiers. They threw stones at homes and provoked residents. Young men and teens from the neighborhood who were sitting on the street swore back at them and confronted the soldiers who were protecting the settlers.
That evening, at around 8:30 P.M., about five settlers entered the neighborhood, escorted by a soldier, and verbally confronted young residents. One of the settlers pepper-sprayed Muhammad al-Ja'bari (13) in the face. Some of the spray reached the face of his grandfather, Nasser al-Ja'bari (62), who was standing next to him. A military ambulance and a police cruiser arrived at the scene, and the two were given first aid. One of the officers suggested Nasser al-Ja'bari file a complaint with the police against the settler who had attacked him and his grandson, but he refused.
In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari, Nasser al-Ja'bari recounted the settlers’ attack on 10 July 2021:
On Saturday, 10 July 2021, at around 8:00 P.M., I was on my way home when I saw five settlers between the ages of about 17 to 25, escorted by a soldier, harassing four or five young Palestinians from my extended family who were standing across from a barbershop opposite my house. The settlers were spitting at them. Meanwhile, more settlers arrived and a verbal argument developed. The settlers swore at the Palestinians and shouted that the houses belong to Jews, in the presence of the soldier who was with them and of several other soldiers who were on the street. When the young guys tried to respond, the soldier who was escorting the settlers cocked his weapon in their faces.
I tried to calm the guys down, because I was afraid the soldiers would shoot them. I also tried to persuade the settlers to move away. Meanwhile, my grandson Muhammad (13) arrived. Just then, one of the settlers turned around and pepper-sprayed him right in the face. I tried to protect Muhammad and some of the gas reached my face. I felt my eyes and face burning. Then a fight broke out between the young Palestinians and the settlers. The soldiers drove the Palestinians away and aimed their rifles at them. Many more settlers showed up and attacked the young guys, too. The soldiers tried to separate the guys from the settlers and moved the settlers away.
I went into a grocery store run by my brother, Bassem al-Ja'bari. My grandson Muhammad was already there. Some young guys were trying to help him and were washing his face with yogurt. A military ambulance arrived and the paramedics helped Muhammad. They put ointment on his face to ease the burning. A Red Crescent ambulance also arrived and the crew joined in the first aid. I was affected less badly than Muhammad. Meanwhile, an Israeli police car arrived and one of the officers suggested I file a complaint at an Israeli police station, but I saw no point. Settlers have attacked us dozens of times and I’ve filed complaints, all of which led to nothing. I thanked God it ended as it did. I was very scared when the soldiers, who were very agitated, pointed their weapons at the young guys. I was afraid they'd shoot them. There was no justification for the settlers' attack on the young guys. The night before, settlers had also attacked homes and passers-by in the neighborhood.
In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari, neighborhood resident Muhammad al-Ja'bari (13) described the settlers’ attack on 10 July 2021:
I was sitting in my uncle's clothing store on the ground floor of our building. It’s on the main street of the neighborhood, which leads to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. I heard noises outside and went out to the street to see what was going on. I saw about six of my relatives confronting about five settlers, who had a soldier with them. I crossed the road towards them. When I got close, one of the settlers pepper-sprayed me right in the face. My face and eyes immediately started to burn. Two young Palestinians picked me up and carried me to the grocery store of another one of my uncles. My face was burning and I was crying from the pain the whole time. They put yogurt on my face. Meanwhile, my grandfather Nasser (62), who was also hit by the pepper spray, came in. The young guys in the grocery store treated him. He got less of the spray than I did. A military ambulance arrived and the paramedics sprayed something on my face that helped me. Then a Red Crescent ambulance came, too. After about two hours, I went home and changed clothes. My face and eyes are still stinging.
Turmusaya area, Ramallah District: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack Bedouin community
On 26 June 2021, at around 4:00 P.M., settlers came with a military escort to a farm owned by a Bedouin family that lies on a plain east of the village of Turmusaya, and attacked it with stones. Family members, along with area residents who came to their aid, tried to fend the settlers off by throwing stones. The soldiers escorting the settlers fired live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at the Palestinians and hurled stun grenades. Several Palestinians were hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and treated at a clinic in the area. Another was lightly injured in the abdomen by a stone.
In the attack, settlers burned down a parked agricultural vehicle, as well as some two tons of barley crops and about 50 sheaves of straw. Two goats choked to death from the tear gas and two others broke their legs in the panic that broke out among the flock. The soldiers removed the settlers from the scene after about an hour, but continued to clash with the residents until around 7:00 A.M. After police officers came to the scene, soldiers prevented residents from approaching them to file a complaint.
The settlement outpost of Adei Ad was established about 1.5 kilometers from the Bedouin farm. Since its establishment, residents of the Turmusaya area have been suffering repeated attacks by settlers.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 27 June 2021, Suliman Abu ‘Alia (32), a married father of three who lives on the farm with his extended family, described the settlers’ attack:
My family, which numbers 10 people, lives off farming and shepherding. In winter, we live in the Ras a-Tin area. In spring and summer, we live on our farm east of Turmusaya, so the flock can graze in the fields we’ve already harvested and eat the dry grass remaining there. Near the farm there are extremist settlers who attack us and other area residents and cause damage. In recent months it’s actually been quiet, with no attacks.
On 26 June 2021, at around 4:00 P.M., we suddenly noticed settlers coming towards us. The women and children on the farm were terrified. We tried to drive the settlers away to defend our families, and tried to protect the flock, tents and fodder as best as we could. A few dozen guys from the area who heard what was happening came to help us fight them.
The soldiers didn’t really try to make them leave or to protect us. All they cared about was defending the settlers, and they fired at us and threw stun grenades and tear gas. We had to disperse because the gas was so heavy. Only after an hour did the military drive the settlers away. Even then, they continued attacking us, even when the military did try to intervene. After the settlers moved away, the clashes between the residents and the military continued until 7:00 P.M. My brother Ahmad was lightly injured in the stomach from a stone thrown by the settlers. About other 10 people were injured by tear gas or “rubber” bullets. But as far as I know, they were only injured lightly and were treated at clinics in the area.
The settlers torched a car we used for transporting things inside the farm, well as two tons of barley for feeding the flock (a ton costs about 17,000 shekels [~5,2450 USD]), and about 50 sheaves of straw that were also intended for the flock (every sheaf costs 50 shekels [~15 USD]). They also injured two goats whose legs got broken, and two other goats choked on the gas and died.
In the end, at a late hour, police officers also arrived. But every time I tried to approach them to file a complaint, the soldiers kept me back at gunpoint.
Khirbet Susiya, South Hebron Hills: Settlers stone shepherds twice in two days
On 28 June 2021, settlers set out from the settlement of Susiya and hurled stones at a number of Palestinians grazing their flocks about 500 meters south of the village of Susiya. The shepherds were forced to move away from the area.
Two days later, on 30 June 2021, several masked settlers again came to the area and hurled stones at shepherds from the village. After about 20 minutes, soldiers came to the scene and drove the settlers away.
The military expelled the residents of Khirbet Susiya from their village in 1986 and they relocated to their farmland. Since then, the military and settlers have trying to drive them out of there, too.
Shilo Junction (Route 60), Ramallah District: Settlers stone Palestinian car, injuring passenger
On the night of 3 May 2021, about 15 settlers stoned a car that was driving through the intersection by the settlement of Shilo, on Route 60. The stones shattered the windshield, a window and a headlight, and hit a resident (60) of a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah who was traveling in the car with her husband (73).
The injured woman was taken to hospital in Ramallah, where she was diagnosed with bruising and discharged.
Hebron city center: Settlers stone Palestinian residents; soldiers escorting them arrest B’Tselem volunteer for no reason, abuse him and release him two days later
On 11 May 2021, dozens of settlers attacked residents of the Gheith neighborhood in central Hebron and threw stones at them. The latter threw stones back. Soldiers ignored the settlers and hurled tear gas and stun grenades at the residents. At one point, settlers stoned neighborhood resident Nael Fakhuri, a B’Tselem volunteer who was passing by with his son and a neighbor. Six Border Police officers then arrested him. He was transferred between police stations, beaten by soldiers and released two days later after paying NIS 4,000.
Settlers violently attack farmers from Khirbet Tana and Beit Furik in Nablus District and threaten them
On 14 June 2021, a fire broke out on pastureland that lies on a ridge south of Beit Furik and Khirbet Tana. The settlement of Itamar was established on the ridge in 1984 on land belonging to Palestinian villages, and later joined by several outposts. The following day, settlers attacked Palestinian farmers, accused them of setting the fire, threatened them and damaged their property. State-backed settler violence has become a routine part of the occupation, leading to the increasing dispossession of Palestinians throughout the West Bank.
Israel’s regime of apartheid and occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end this regime, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.