Purim 2021 in central Hebron: Settlers from Beit Hadassah harass family and throw objects at nearby house. Later that day, settlers violently raid Wadi a-Nasarah neighborhood, smashing windows and trying to break into apartment
On Sunday afternoon, during the Jewish holiday of Purim, 28 February 2021, about 10 settlers, including men, women, and children, stood on the balcony of the settlement of Beit Hadassah in central Hebron. Some of them began throwing stones and bottles at the nearby Abu Haya family home and swore at its residents. Routine.
About an hour later, about 10 settlers, some holding liquor bottles, tried to enter the Palestinian neighborhood of Wadi a-Nasarah, which lies several dozen meters away from the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Dozens of soldiers came to the scene and tried to block the settlers’ way without using any force. The settlers rioted and clashed with neighborhood residents who had come out of their homes and threw stones at the settlers to fend them off.
The settlers smashed the windshield of Thaer Da’na’s (21) car, and climbed over the gate of his family’s home in an attempt to break in. Immediately after, some 10 settlers entered the house next door and went up to its second floor. Wafa Da’na (44) and her nine young children were there at the time. The settles smashed a glass window in the front door with an iron bar, while other settlers standing on the street hurled stones at the house, smashing two of its windows and the glass door of the balcony. The settlers’ attempt to break into the apartment was ultimately unsuccessful and they were removed from the building by several soldiers about 10 minutes later.
The settlers remained in the neighborhood, rioting until around 6:30 P.M., and only then were they cleared out by the police.
That night, at around 3:00 A.M., several soldiers came to the neighborhood, entered homes, and arrested three residents, claiming settlers had filed complaints against them: Thaer Da’na, whose car was vandalized, Adham Da’na (33), a father of three, who was away from the neighborhood at the time of the incident, and Mustafa Da’na (20). The following day, at around noon, the three were taken for interrogation at the Kiryat Arba police station and released a few hours later. Thaer Da’na was released on bail and a court hearing in his case was scheduled for about a year from now. The other two were released without charge.
The following testimonies were collected by B’Tselem field researchers Manal al-Ja’bari and Musa Abu Hashhsash regarding the severe incidents on Purim:
In her testimony, Narmin Abu Haya (39), a mother of five from central Hebron, spoke about how the harassment of her family by Beit Hadassah settlers, the hurling of objects, and the swearing:
On 28 February 2021, at around 3:00 P.M., we were sitting with my family at home, when we heard loud music and voices in Hebrew coming from the settlement of Beit Hadassah. I looked out the window and saw several settlers: men, women, and children of all ages, who were on the balcony of the settlement. When the settlers saw me, they started swearing at me, and Arabs in general, and throwing empty bottles at our house. All of this happened in front of the soldiers that were at the guard post near the settlement.
For about four hours, the settlers threw stones, bottles and trash at our home. In the end, more soldiers came and approached the area, and then the settlers stopped throwing objects at us. But still, they continued dancing, screaming, and playing loud music into the night. It terrified my young children and bothered us all. We couldn’t sleep until late at night.
In her testimony, Wafa Da’na (41), a mother of nine and resident of Wadi a-Nasarah in Hebron, recalled the settlers’ violent attempted invasion of her home:
We constantly suffer from attacks by settlers from Kiryat Arba, who throw stones at our house and at the children on the street, especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays. The last incident happened on 28 February 2021, at around 5:30 P.M. I was at home and heard shouting. My children, Diaa (12) and Hamid (7) were outside, so I went out quickly and saw about 10 settlers in their twenties who were attacking homes on the street and damaging our neighbor’s car. I saw that the settlers were holding bottles, some empty and some full, and a few young guys from the neighborhood who were trying to drive them away.
I gathered my children, we went inside, went up to the second floor, and closed the door. I was so scared that I pushed one of the sofas and blocked the door with it. I saw through the door’s glass window about 10 settlers who had come up the stairs and started hitting the door with an iron bar. They broke the door’s window. At the same time, stones hit the window facing the street, shattering the glass and the glass door of the balcony. The children started crying and screaming and trembling with fear. I tried to calm them down and took them to their room. I also started screaming from inside the door and calling for help. The settlers tried to open our front door for a few minutes until some soldiers went up and took them down to the street. They stayed in the street until the evening and then the soldiers and the police officers drove them away.
In her testimony, Thaer’s mother, S. (46), a mother of six from the Wadi a-Nasarah neighborhood of Hebron, recounted the moments of horror she experienced after the settlers’ attack:
I went out of the house with the children when I heard shouting in Hebrew. Neighborhood residents and about eight settlers in their twenties were out in the street. I think they were drunk because some of them were holding empty liquor bottles. I saw them breaking some masonry and throwing stones at the windshield of my son’s car, which was parked in front of our home. I saw several settlers fighting with my son Thaer, while others tried to attack my son Bilal (18), but I managed to get him away from them. Four soldiers tried to arrest Bilal and tore his shirt, but I wrestled him away from them, too. I took him inside the house and closed the door.
At around 3:00 A.M., I woke up to loud knocking on the door. I woke up my three sons and told them to get dressed because I assumed these were soldiers raiding our home. I opened the door and about 10 soldiers went in and spread out in the house. They didn’t find the boys because they ran out the back door after I woke them. A few minutes later, three soldiers came, holding my three sons, and then they led Thaer out of the house. My sister-in-law and I tried to wrestle Thaer away from them and followed them out into the street, but we were unsuccessful. I saw that the soldiers had arrested more young men. I was worried about Thaer. He’s nearly blind in one eye and about a week ago, he fell and broke his hand.
The soldiers took him and the other young men to the police station in Kiryat Arba, even though the police officers saw Thaer’s car that the settlers had vandalized.
In his testimony, Adham Da’na (33), a father of four from the Wadi a-Nasarah neighborhood of Hebron, described his false arrest following a complaint by settlers who raided his neighborhood:
On 28 February 2021, at around 6:30 P.M., I came back from work. The neighbors told me that settlers had attacked homes and cars. I went home and went to sleep early. At around 3:00 A.M., I heard knocking on the door and soldiers shouting, “Open up!”. The soldiers asked if I was Adham and told me to bring my ID card, and then a soldier told me that they were going to arrest me. They led me outside and put me in a jeep with two people in it – at first, I didn’t recognize them because of the blindfolds they put on them, but later I realized it was Thaer and Mustafa Da’na. The jeep drove us to the police station in Kiryat Arba.
They kept us at the station until the next day, and only started interrogating us at around noon. I was interrogated first – they accused me of attacking the settlers that came into the neighborhood. I denied it, of course, and told them that I didn’t get home from work until 6:30 P.M., and when I arrived, everything was calm and there were no settlers. The interrogator didn’t believe me and said that settlers had filed a complaint against me. I again explained to them that I wasn’t there during the incident and that they can look at the photos and videos that the residents had filmed. After more than an hour, I was released without charge. I waited until 5:00 P.M., and then they released the other two. I understood from Thaer that he was released on bail, without depositing money, and that they’d scheduled a trial for him in a year.
Burin, Nablus District: Soldiers escort settlers stoning residents and fire tear gas and “rubber bullets” at residents who try to make them leave
On 13 March 2021, Burin resident Muntasser Mansur was working on construction of his house along with another village resident. At around 2:30 P.M., some 20 settlers arrived escorted by about six soldiers, and started throwing stones at the house. Mansur and his friend went outside and tried to make them leave by throwing stones, yet to no avail. One of the settlers fired two shots with his gun, one of which hit the wall behind Mansur, and the two men had to flee towards the village homes.
Meanwhile, village residents gathered round the house. Some of them, along with Mansur and his friend, tried to drive the settlers away by throwing stones. At that point, some of the settlers continued to throw stones at the house while others started chasing the residents. The soldiers, by then joined by more forces, fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas at the residents, who had no choice but to retreat.
The house the settlers stoned lies several hundred meters east of the other houses in the village, and the settlement of Har Bracha and the settlement outpost of Sneh Ya’akov (Giv’at Ronen) were established about a kilometer from it.
The residents of Burin, which is hemmed in by the settlements of Har Bracha and Yitzhar, have been suffering settler attacks for years. In the 1980s, the settlement of Yitzhar was established about a kilometer south of the village and the settlement of Har Bracha was established about a kilometer northeast of the village – both on land belonging to Burin and to neighboring villages.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Muntasser Mansur (31), a father of one and a bus driver, recounted how the settlers attacked his half-built house with army backing:
On 13 March 2021, at around 2:30 P.M., I was working on construction of my house together with another resident of the village. Suddenly, about 20 settlers showed up and started throwing stones at the house. I immediately called my family to tell them what was going on, because I was afraid. There were a lot of settlers there, and about six to eight soldiers guarding them who did nothing to stop them. We tried to defend ourselves and threw stones back, but they outnumbered us and one of them had a gun.
One of the settlers fired two shots with his gun, and one of the bullets hit the wall behind me. I realized our lives were in danger. We went outside and started running towards the village. After we went some way, we stopped and watched the settlers. Then some other residents arrived, and together with them we tried to make the settlers leave by throwing stones. Some of the settlers continued throwing stones at the house, and others started chasing us along with the soldiers, who fired “rubber” bullets and tear gas at us. Meanwhile, four military jeeps arrived and more soldiers got out. They also fired “rubber” bullets and tear gas at us. The residents had to draw back. I stayed on the lookout, to watch what they were doing to my house, and saw they were damaging it.
This isn’t the first time they’ve attacked the house. It’s happened several times before, and every time I’ve had to fix what they destroyed. It’s cost me tens of thousands of shekels. They clearly want to expand the settlement of Har Bracha on our land, and therefore want to prevent any new construction in the area. I can’t take these losses any more. I have a family to support and rent to pay. No one can stand these attacks. Every time they attacked and destroyed something in the house, I felt it in my body. It’s an injustice that no one can tolerate – watching your home under attack by settlers guarded by armed soldiers who fire at anyone who comes close. They are free to do as they please. They build houses and roads and create parks wherever they want, and we can’t even build on our own land.
Khan al-Ahmar school community, East of Jerusalem: Settlement security guard throws stones at shepherds and their flock
In the morning hours of 28 February 2021, two shepherds from the community were herding their flock about 400 meters northwest of the community’s homes. At around 9:00 A.M., a security guard from the settlement of Kfar Adumim arrived in his car and drove alongside the flock, frightening and scattering it. The guard got out of his car with a dog and began throwing stones at the shepherds and the flock. The shepherds were forced to gather the flock and return it to the community.
The settlement of Kfar Adumim was established about a kilometer from the community of Khan al-Ahmar.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher ‘Amer ‘Aruri on 13 March 2021, Muhammad Abu Dahuk (16), a shepherd from the community, recounted his harassment by Kfar Adumim’s security guard:
Every day at 8:00 A.M., My friend and I take our sheep to pastureland near our Bedouin community. A month and a half ago, the security guard of the nearby Kfar Adumim settlement started harassing us and preventing us from reaching the pasture on the pretext that the valley separating the settlement and our community is the settlement’s territory.
The settler usually comes in his car and drives around the flock, scaring and scattering the sheep. Sometimes he even gets out of his car and throws stones at us. The guard is armed, of course, and that scares me a lot because it could develop into a situation where he’ll open fire, God forbid.
My friend and I run away as soon as we see him coming and then return after he leaves. But he comes back every time and drives the sheep and us away on our way back to the community. One time, he chased us until the sheep entered the pen. A lot of times he also drives his car into our community, even when we’re inside our homes. I don’t know why.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher ‘Amer ‘Aruri on 13 March 2021, Qassem Jahalin (15), another shepherd from the community, related:
I’m scared to go out to graze the flock. I really feel my life’s in danger, mainly because this settler is armed. But I don’t have anywhere else to go to because the areas that are more than 400 meters away from the community have been defined as firing zones. If I go there, the Nature and Parks Authority workers might come and drive us away. It happened to my father and other people from the community in the past. That’s why the current pasture, which is 400 meters from our community, is the only place left, especially since we can bring water from the community in case the sheep are thirsty.
Tel Rumeidah, central Hebron: Teenage settler beats 13-year-old Palestinian in front of soldiers, who let him flee without stopping him
The 10 members of the Abu ‘Eishah family live in the neighborhood of Tel Rumeidah in Hebron. Their home is sadly known as “the cage house,” as they had to install bars and screens on the doors and windows to protect themselves from settlers. The house lies far from the other Palestinian homes in the neighborhood. In 1984, the urban settlement of Admot Yishai was established right by to it. Since then, the family has suffered incessant harassment by settlers and by the military.
On Saturday, 6 February 2021, at around 8:00 P.M., Rima (54) and Taysir (59) Abu ‘Eishah were walking home with their son Haitham (13). After they crossed a checkpoint and a gate the military erected near their home, they encountered five teens from the settlement and three soldiers. One of the settlers followed the family and attacked Haitham, punching him in the head, and then fled. The soldiers made no attempt to stop him and called the police. Police officers arrived some 15 minutes later and took the father and son to the police station to file a complaint.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari, Haitham Abu ‘Eishah recounted the assault by his home:
We’re the only Palestinian family that lives here. The settlers here attack us all the time, especially on Fridays and Saturdays and on Jewish holidays.
Yesterday, on our way home, after we crossed the Mash'had al-Arb’in checkpoint and the gate, we saw three soldiers and five young settlers who were about 16 years old. We ignored them and kept walking, and then my mother shouted out to me to watch out because one of them was about to attack me. Before I could turn around, the settler punched me in the right ear. I screamed with pain and the settler ran towards the settlement.
My ear still hurts. If the pain continues, I’ll have to see a doctor.
Al-Fandaqumiyah, Jenin District: Settlers violently attack Palestinian women picking herbs with 4-year-old
On 10 February 2021, at around 2:00 P.M., S.R. set out to pick wild herbs along with her four-year-old son and her sister-in-law, Sh.R.
At around 3:30 P.M., dozens of settlers came to the area where the women were picking the herbs. About 10 of them approached the women and began attacking them with stones and clubs. The settlers forcefully removed one of the women’s headscarves and attacked her until she fell down. The settlers left about 15 minutes later, stealing the herbs the women had gathered.
The injured women walked home, about a kilometer away. They were taken to the village clinic, where their bruises was examined and they were discharged.
In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researchers, S.R recounted the attack:
At around 2:00 P.M., I went with my sister-in-law and my four-year-old son, who’s on the autistic spectrum, to a hill near our neighborhood. I wanted to gather wild herbs such as Arum, Za’atar (Hyssop) and Cyclamen leaves we use for cooking.
About an hour and a half later, we saw about 40 settlers climbing the hill. Most of them were holding sticks or stones. They shouted at us and threw stones at us. Then about 10 settlers with shirts wrapped around their faces came over and started beating us with sticks. I was hit in the arm and the left thigh and fell down, but got up very quickly because I was worried about my son, who was scared and had started screaming.
When I got up, there were four settlers around me. They all hit me with their sticks and kicked me, but they didn’t attack my son. I started calling for help in the hope someone would hear me.
At the same time, several settlers attacked my sister-in-law. I saw them take off her headscarf and try to strangle her with it while they hit her with sticks. She fell over and almost fainted.
After the settlers left, my sister-in-law barely managed to get up. She had bruises all over her body from the merciless beating by the barbaric settlers. My sister-in-law, my son and I went back home. My sister-in-law was barefoot because her shoe straps were torn when the settlers attacked her.
The settlement of Homesh was established near al-Fandaqumiyah in 1980. The settlement was evacuated in 2005 and a yeshiva now operates on the site.
Masafer Yatta, South Hebron Hills: Settlers attack shepherd and stone residents coming to her aid
On Thursday morning, 11 February 2021, Fatima a-Nawaj’ah (45), a resident of Khirbet Susiya, was grazing her flock on pastureland about 500 meters south of her village. Suddenly, the security coordinator of the settlement of Susiya arrived and ordered her to leave the area. When she refused, he returned to the settlement. At that point, two settlers arrived and began throwing stones at her from a position near a military tower, where a soldier was posted on that day. Several residents who heard a-Nawaj’ah’s cries for help came to the scene, but the two settlers managed to escape. Minutes later, five more settlers showed up from the settlement's direction and started throwing stones at the residents using slingshots, causing the latter to flee the area along with a-Nawaj’ah.
The residents called the Israeli police, which arrived after the settlers had left the area. The officers suggested that the residents file a complaint, and one of them went to the police station in Kiryat Arba and filed a complaint.
The settlement of Susiya was established about 200 meters away from the pastureland of Khirbet Susiya.
Kafr Malik, Ramallah District: Soldiers watch settlers attack Palestinian farmers
In the summer of 2019, settlers established a new outpost on the land of Kafr Malik. The settlement of Kochav Hashahar was built near the village. In November 2020, the outpost was relocated north to agricultural lands belonging to residents of Kafr Malik and al-Mughayir, where residents of Ras a-Tin, a Bedouin community located two kilometers away, graze their flocks. Local residents have repeatedly demonstrated against the outpost. In one such demonstration, on 18 December 2020, a settler fired live rounds at the protesters and other settlers threatened them with two large dogs. Israeli security forces who were present did nothing. In another demonstration, security forces fatally shot ‘Ali Abu 'Alia, a 15-year-old al-Mughayir resident, while he watched the protest.
Since the establishment of the outpost in 2019, settlers have been attacking local farmers and preventing them from working their land. This was the case on Thursday, 7 January 2021. At around 8:00 A.M., about 15 farmers from Kafr Malik and nearby villages came with four tractors to their land, which lies about two kilometers south of the new outpost. On their way, they saw settlers in several vehicles and a military jeep pulled over by the side of the road near the land.
About five minutes after the farmers started working their land, four settlers armed with clubs arrived along with four soldiers. The settlers blocked the tractors’ way. A few minutes later, about 10 more settlers arrived, some armed with clubs, and started throwing stones at the farmers. Several farmers threw stones back at the settlers to drive them away, and a few minutes later, an argument developed between some farmers and the settlers. When a settler pushed a farmer, the argument escalated, and the settlers started attacking the farmers with clubs and stones. Some of the farmers responded by throwing stones back at the settlers.
At some point, several settlers tried to attack Diaa’ Rustum, a farmer who was driving a tractor. As he was trying to flee, a settler fired a handgun at him, hitting the tractor. This was immediately followed by several settlers attacking a car driven by another farmer who was also trying to escape, smashing its windshield and a side window.
Until that moment, the soldiers stood aside and watched the settlers attacking the farmers, ignoring the latter's requests for intervention. The soldiers only intervened after the shooting, but only to drive the farmers out. They fired tear gas canisters at them, forcing them to move back.
At that point, dozens more settlers, about 10 military and Border Police jeeps, and police officers arrived. The settlers claimed that the tractor driver had tried to run one of them over, and the officers arrested him. The driver was released only 10 days later, after posting a 3,000 NIS (~915 USD) bail.
In an extraordinarily rare step, a representative of the Israeli DCO came to the scene and suggested the farmers go home and return on 11 January 2021, promising they would have a security escort then. On said date, at around 8:30 A.M., about ten farmers from Kafr Malik went to their land. As promised, about 20 Border Police officers and a DCO representative guarded them throughout the day. About ten settlers arrived at the land, harassing the farmers, swearing at them, and even trying to block the tractors’ way, but the police kept them at bay time and again. By the end of the working day, the farmers had managed to plow a small part of their land, which they had been afraid to access in the last two years, since the establishment of the outpost in the area.
The farmers made several attempts to file a complaint against the settlers who had attacked them at the Binyamin police station - on the day of the attack, 7 January 2021, and in the days that followed - but the officers refused to register their complaint. Only on their fourth attempt were they able to file a complaint, yet they received no confirmation of its submission.
Letting violent settlers freely attack Palestinians as security forces watch without intervening, as occurred in this instance and dozens of others, is a matter of policy. By privatizing violence in this way, Israel is able to formally disavow the actions themselves, when in fact, they further its own goals – primarily taking over more and more Palestinian land.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 12 January 2021, Khaled B’uirat (48), a farmer and father of four, described what happened that day:
About five minutes after we started working, four settlers arrived and approached us. Some were filming us while others were provoking us, yelling at us, trying to block the tractors’ way, and preventing the plowing. Within five minutes, there were already more than 20 settlers there. Despite this, the soldiers in the jeep, that had meanwhile come closer to us, did nothing but watch. When more settlers arrived, and they felt they were in a position of power over us, they started attacking us with stones. I asked the officer in the jeep if they were going to do something about it, but he ignored me.
At that point, one settler provoked a farmer, and a confrontation broke out with pushing and mutual stone-throwing. I saw one of the tractor drivers, Diaa’, trying to get away on a tractor as several settlers attacked him with stones and clubs. He was careful not to hit them. One settler in his late thirties, who was blond and had long side curls, fired three shots from a handgun that hit the tractor, and only miraculously didn’t hit Diaa’ himself. Afterwards, the settler who fired claimed that Diaa’ tried to run him over, but I saw with my very own eyes how they attacked him. He was just trying to get away from them and wasn’t trying to attack anybody.
When I managed to reach my car, another group of settlers attacked me. There were more than five of them. I tried to dodge the beating, got into my car, and started driving. The settlers threw a stone that smashed the driver’s side window and hit me in the forehead on the left side. Despite being wounded, I managed to turn around and started driving as the settlers continued attacking the car with clubs and stones. They also broke the rear window. I kept driving until I got away and thanked God I’d managed to get out of there alive.
This whole mess lasted about five minutes. The soldiers did nothing until the farmers started defending themselves while trying to escape. Then the soldiers fired tear gas canisters at us, even though we were just trying to get away from there. They fired three or four tear gas canisters, and we could barely see anything because of the gas and the stinging in our eyes.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 7 January 2021, the tractor driver, Diaa’ Rustum (33), a father of three, described the sequence of events:
When the settlers started attacking us with clubs and stones, we couldn’t push them back because they attacked us with military backing. Several of us were driving tractors at the time, and others were too old to fight back. There were some whose cars were parked close by, and they were afraid the settlers would damage them. We had to draw back to a higher place.
I was driving my tractor at the time, and just as I tried turning around, one settler, who was blocking my way, attacked me. He had light skin, blond hair, and side curls, and he was wearing a Kippah. I think he was in his twenties. At first, he tried to grab the front of the tractor. I turned the tractor around as best I could to get away from him, and then he pulled out a gun and fired straight at the tractor, hitting its right side and the radiator. When he fired at me, I thought he would kill me because we were only a meter or two apart. I stayed alive only by the grace of God. I was very confused and didn’t know exactly how many bullets he’d fired because the gun shots were mixed with the blows of the stones the other settlers threw. Later on, I saw three bullet holes in the tractors’ chassis.
In those moments, the soldiers intervened in favor of the settlers. They started firing tear gas canisters at us while we ran away. We couldn’t stand the smell of gas and felt suffocated. We managed to get away to a safe place and started checking if everyone was alright. I wasn’t hurt myself, but the tractor’s radiator was leaking water, so I drove north to ‘Ein Samiah to fill it up. While I was there, a military patrol drove up to me, confiscated my ID card, and ordered me to drive after them without explaining why.
When we arrived at a place near the Alon Road, we encountered an Israel Police patrol car. The soldiers handed them my ID card, and then the officers told me, “You’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you.” I asked why I was being arrested, and it turned out that the settler who’d fired at the tractor had filed a complaint against me, claiming that I’d tried to run him over. I tried to explain what happened, but they ordered me to be quiet until I appeared before a police investigator. Then they tied my hands in front with metal zip ties and took me to the backseat of the patrol car, where they sat me between two officers. I asked about the tractor and what they were going to do with it, and they said they’d confiscate it for the investigation. They still haven’t given it back to me.
They took me to the Binyamin police station. When we got there at around 10:00 A.M., they put me in a small, dark 1.5-square-meter cell, where I could only stand or sit. It was totally bare. About two hours later, they led me to the interrogation room and questioned me about the incident. The interrogator accused me of trying to run over the settler. I explained to him what happened, that the settler was the one who tried to block my way and that I tried to avoid contact with him. I told him he fired at me and almost killed me. The interrogator watched the videos the settlers had filmed and another farmer had broadcast on Facebook. None of the videos showed anything that proved the settlers’ allegations. The interrogator questioned me for more than two hours.
Then they transferred me to an interrogation room with two or three interrogators. I think they were all officers. The one leading the interrogation showed me a video, frame by frame, and asked me questions. It took hours. I was starving. I hadn’t eaten anything since the morning and only drank a bit of water between interrogations. They only let me go to the bathroom once.
At around 10:00 P.M., they took me back to the cell while I was still handcuffed. They wore me down with all those questions. I felt exhausted, and there was no place to sleep. The cell was too small and had no blankets. As I sat on the cell floor, one of the interrogators came from time to time and asked me questions through a small window until 2:00 A.M. I was the victim here, and the settler was the perpetrator. He should have been punished.
At 2:00 A.M., they transferred me, with my hands still tied, to Ofer Prison, where they put me in a holding cell in Wing 14. I stayed there until Sunday morning. Then there was a court hearing. I talked with the lawyer who represented me for several minutes and told him what happened to me. During the hearing, my lawyer demanded that I be interrogated again because there were problems with the first interrogation. The judge agreed and adjourned the hearing.
On Tuesday morning, they took me back for interrogation at the Binyamin police station. I explained to the interrogator again the sequence of events according to the video clips, frame by frame, and made it clear that I was innocent. The interrogator told me, “Why didn’t you say these things in the first place?” I had given the same version the whole time, but apparently, they didn’t want to look bad because they distorted the truth, especially after my lawyer asked the judge to check the videos. The interrogation lasted about five hours, and then they took me back to the holding cell at Ofer military prison.
The next morning, 13 January 2021, another hearing took place. The police asked to remand me for another week. The judge postponed the hearing for a week and asked the police to bring the settler to testify. The next day, my lawyer appealed the postponement and asked to advance the hearing date. It was decided to hold the hearing on Sunday.
In the hearing that took place on Sunday, 17 January 2021, my lawyer again demanded I be released. The judge accepted his request this time and ordered my release on 3,000 shekels bail. I don’t understand why I had to post bail when I didn’t do anything, but I posted it. The judge decided on my release at 1:00 P.M., but they only released me at 9:30 P.M. They still have my tractor, and my lawyer is taking care of its return.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, Muntasser Hamayel (46), a married father of six and coordinator of the Kafr Malik agricultural committee, described his attempts to file a complaint with the police:
On the day of the incident, at around 4:00 P.M., I went to the Binyamin police station with two other farmers who were present at the time of the attack. We wanted to file a complaint. After we were kept waiting for more than an hour, we were told the interrogator was overworked, that he was alone today, and that he wouldn’t be able to receive us. We went home and came back the next day at 9:00 A.M., but they wouldn’t receive us again, with the same excuses.
On Tuesday, 12 January 2021, at 9:00 P.M., we came to the police for the third time after the private lawyer handling Diaa’s arrest case called ahead, and the same thing happened again. They told us the officer was very busy and sent us to file a complaint online.
After I got home, the lawyer called and asked us to return to the police station. I went back with a friend from the village and this time, an interrogator received me, and I explained what happened. While I gave my description, the interrogator watched the videos posted online. I gave him a statement for about an hour and a half and then went home. I didn’t receive any confirmation of filing the complaint.
Turmusaya, Ramallah District: Settlers attack residents and torch cars in the presence of soldiers, who fire teargas canisters at the residents
In the early evening hours of Wednesday, 13 January 2021, a week after settlers scattered spikes on a road used exclusively by Palestinians, village residents noticed suspicious vehicles on their farmland. They hurried over to see what was going on. When they arrived, a vehicle belonging to the security coordinator of the settlement of Shilo blocked their way. He was joined by the guard of a farm built about a year ago near the settlement outpost of Adei Ad, several hundred meters away from farmland belonging to residents of Turmusaya. A few minutes later, about six settlers arrived and began throwing stones at the residents, who were standing and talking to the first two settlers. Most of the residents ran away. The settlers attacked 46-year-old farmer Hijaz Hijaz, who tried to fend them off using his hands, and another resident who had remained in the area. Hijaz managed to get to his car and began driving away, but the settlers gave chase and shattered a side window. This was the third time Hijaz had been hurt in a settler attack since April 2020.
The Palestinians backed away to a distance of about 70 meters, where they stopped and gathered with other village residents. Meanwhile, dozens of settlers escorted by dozens of soldiers and police officers arrived, as well. The soldiers started hurling tear gas canisters at the villagers, who retreated farther towards the village. Two of them had to abandon their cars after they were filled with teargas, and flee on foot. The settlers then went over to the cars and torched both, in full view of the soldiers. The residents noticed the flames and tried to return to put them out, but the soldiers blocked their way. After the cars burnt down completely, the forces confiscated them.
Hijaz Hijaz, 46, a father of five from the village of Turmusaya, recounted the settlers’ assault on him and the soldiers’ cooperation with them in a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 8 February 2021:
Recently, within less than nine months, I’ve been hurt three times by settler violence. On 21 April 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic started, I came to plow my land after coordinating with the DCO, and discovered that settlers had cut down 40 of my olive trees, which were 35 years old. I filed a complaint, but it didn’t do any good. This year, on 9 January 2021, my tire was punctured when I was driving on the road leading to my land after settlers had scattered dozens of spikes and nails on it.
The third time was on Wednesday, 13 January 2021, at 6:30 P.M. We noticed headlights on our land and drove out there in two cars to check what was happening. We figured it was settlers, because they do that occasionally, and we’re used to their attacks and the damage they cause to our trees and farms there.
I went with a friend in my car and when we approached, our way was blocked by the vehicle of the Shilo settlement’s security coordinator. We know him. He asked us where we were going and why, and we told him we were worried about the vehicles on our lands. He said we had nothing to worry about and that those were just his car’s lights and there was no one else around.
As we were talking, the security guard of the settlers’ new farm drove up to us. He’s a tall man with a long blond beard. He joined the discussion, and I told some young guys from the village who were with us that I was going back to my car. They continued talking.
In less than two minutes, six settlers showed up. I don’t know where they came from. It was dark. They were holding clubs and stones and started attacking us right away. The Shilo security guard stood aside, and the farm guard pointed his gun at us to stop us from defending ourselves. The young guys had no choice but to retreat. I got out of the car to try and fend them off with my hands, but it was only me and another guy, Layth, who stayed there, and the settlers started attacking us. I tried to use my arms to shield my head from the stones the settlers were throwing at us. Within a few seconds, Layth and I managed to get back to my car and drive off. The settlers chased after the car and shattered the back side window.
After I got to a safe distance, I checked to see how I was doing and I saw a few bruises, one in the right leg, one in the chest and one in the left hand.
We pulled over 50-70 meters away from the settlers, and then more people from the village came. In the meantime, dozens more settlers came and also military and police jeeps. I suggested that we go back to the village, but some of the residents insisted on staying there. Very quickly, the soldiers started throwing stun grenades and firing teargas canisters at us, and we ran away. Two of the residents couldn’t get out in their cars because the gas was so strong, so they had to abandon them and run away on foot. When the soldiers and the settler guards were close to them, some of the settlers took advantage of the situation and torched the cars.
We saw the fire from far away and tried to go back to put it out, but the soldiers wouldn’t let us. The cars burnt down completely, and the residents dispersed because of the gas and returned home at about 7:30 P.M.
The next day, the Palestinian DCO asked me to file a complaint at the Binyamin police station, but I refused because I don’t believe the police will attend to this matter fairly. One of the car owners filed a complaint.
Kisan, Bethlehem District: Settlers assault shepherds and flock at two different locations. Police officer at first location threatens to confiscate flock if shepherd returns, without providing explanations
In the early morning hours of Monday, 25 January 2021, Khalaf al-‘Abayat (38), a married father of six, set out to graze his flock in the area around his home. At around 8:00 A.M., while he was in the pastureland, two settlers who were grazing their flock near the settlement outpost of Ibei Hanahal with two dogs in tow attacked him.
The settlers threw stones at al-‘Abayat and his flock, and some goats were hit and began fleeing the area. At that point, the settlers set their dogs on the flock. After an attack that lasted several minutes, four more settlers arrived from the direction of the settlement of Ma’ale Amos and also started throwing stones at al-‘Abayat and his flock.
al-‘Abayat called the Israel Police to report the attack as he tried to duck the stones and get away from the settlers. About 15 minutes later, a police officer and four soldiers arrived, drove the settlers away, and detained al-‘Abayat for about an hour on the grounds that he did not carry his ID card with him. Meanwhile, the flock scattered and moved away. About an hour later, al-‘Abayat’s brother Fadi arrived, gave the officer the requested ID card, and left to search for the flock. An assessment of the damage revealed that the stones thrown by the settlers had injured three pregnant goats.
The police officer ordered al-‘Abayat not to graze his flock in the area, including in the open area east of Kisan and the settlements. He also threatened that if he violated his order, the flock would be confiscated.The next day, in the early morning hours, Fadi al-‘Abayat took the flock out to graze in the Wadi Sa’ir area, about three kilometers west of the settlement and the outpost. At around 11:00, two settlers who were standing by the roadside on the upper part of the valley attacked al-‘Abayat and tumbled rocks at him and his flock. al-‘Abayat gathered the flock and took it back to the village.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash, Khalaf al-‘Abayat recounted his attack by settlers:
I raise livestock and graze a flock of 100 goats. My mother, my wife, and my brother Fadi help me. I usually take the flock to graze in the hills close to my home, where the settlement of Ma’ale Amos and the outpost of Ibei Hanahal were built. I always try to avoid the settlers’ territory.
On 25 January 2021, I went out as usual to graze the flock. When I passed through the area between the settlement and the outpost, on the way to the open area far from both, two settlers who had been hiding inside the outpost’s vineyard suddenly appeared. They were also grazing their flock in the area. They started throwing stones at my flock, and some goats were hit and fled south. The settlers unleashed two dogs who ran after the flock. I managed to dodge most of the stones. But within minutes, four more settlers arrived. They came out of a tent they’d set up at the edge of Ma’ale Amos, about 200 meters from the vineyard. They also threw stones and chased after the goats.
I called the Israel Police. After 15 minutes, a police officer and four soldiers arrived and tried to separate me and my flock from the settlers. One soldier asked for my ID card. I told him it was at home and he demanded that I bring it. I called my brother Fadi and asked him to bring it. The soldiers detained me for about an hour until Fadi arrived after he had tried to locate the flock that had moved far away. The officer told me I wasn’t allowed to come back with the flock to the open area where I usually graze it and that if I did, he’d confiscate my flock. I don’t understand on what grounds he said that and don’t know what I’m going to do now because I have no way to raise the flock without taking it out to pasture. I can’t afford to buy expensive fodder all the time.
After the soldiers released me, I returned home and waited for Fadi, who came back with the flock about two hours later. He said the flock had moved more than two kilometers away towards Wadi Sa’ir. I checked on the goats and discovered that stones had hit three pregnant goats. I hope they’ll be OK.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash, Fadi al-‘Abayat described his attack by settlers the next day:
After Khalaf updated me that the officer had warned him not to come back to where we usually grazed our flock and threatened to confiscate it, I took it the next day to Wadi Sa’ir, far from the settlements. At around 11:00 P.M., while we were in the pastureland in the valley, I suddenly saw large rocks falling in my direction. When I looked up, I saw a white vehicle standing on the road on the valley's upper part. Next to it were two settlers who were tumbling large rocks into the valley to the area where I was grazing the flock. I decided to go home because I was afraid that the flock or I would get hurt.
The village of Kisan lies about 500 meters from the settlement outpost of Ibei Hanahal, established in 1999, and about a kilometer from the settlement of Ma’ale Amos, established in 1980.
Jinsafut, Qalqiliyah District: Settlers block village entrance, stone homes and parked cars, and on their way out, smash windows of car with driver inside
On the night of 21 January 2021, at around 10:30 P.M., about eight settlers arrived in two cars at the village of Jinsafut. They blocked the eastern entrance to the village and advanced on foot into the eastern neighborhood, where they stoned the first house on the street, which belongs to the Bashir family, and two cars belonging to the family. The settlers shattered five windows in the family's home, punctured both cars' tires, and smashed a side window in one car.
Members of the family, who saw the attack from their window, went outside. The settlers fled back to their cars, which they had left at the beginning of the road leading to the village.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Yusef (23), a veterinarian from the village, was trying to get home. As the settlers' cars were blocking his way, he waited in his car until they returned and cleared the lane. On their way out, the settlers noticed Yusef and seized the opportunity to cause more damage. They smashed his windshield and a side window, got into their cars and drove off towards of the settlement of Immanuel.
After the settlers left, the Bashir family and other residents blocked the village's southern entrance with boulders to stop the settlers from returning, and called the Israel Police. About half an hour later, police officers and soldiers arrived. The police collected statements, photographed the damage, took samples of the stones and left the area.
In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, 'Alaa Bashir (39), a father of five from Jinsafut, recounted the settlers' violent invasion into his neighborhood:
We were at home with my brothers, who were visiting, and my wife Khulud was getting the kids ready for bed. Suddenly, I heard a stone hit the window of the children's bedroom. Khulud looked out the window and yelled that she could see settlers throwing stones at my car, which was parked by the house. I went outside immediately with my brothers, and we saw the settlers running towards the eastern exit of the village, which is about 200 meters from our home. We saw two cars parked at the beginning of the road leading to the settlement of Immanuel.
We ran after them but couldn't catch them. I found out they'd smashed my van's side window and punctured all of its tires.
In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi, Muhammad Yusef (23), a married resident of Jinsafut, described how settlers attacked his car while he was sitting inside:
On Thursday night, 21 January 2021, I drove home from work. When I got to the eastern entrance to the village, I found two cars blocking the road. I honked and flashed my headlight at them so they would move out of the way, because I didn't know they were settlers' cars. If I’d known, I would have turned around and taken a different route home.
Suddenly, a group of about four or five settlers appeared with stones in their hands, and started throwing them at my car. I was terrified and shielded my head with my hands. They smashed the left side window and all the bits of glass landed on my head and face. They also smashed the windshield, but luckily it didn't shatter to pieces. The attack lasted about a minute, and then the settlers got into their cars and left.
What happened to me was horrible. It never crossed my mind that settlers would come all the way to our homes and attack us. There was nowhere to run. I'm still in shock and anxious because of the attack.
A few seconds after the settlers left, people from the village came and blocked the entrance with boulders to protest against the attack. I'm not optimistic and don't believe the military and the police will do right by us. I don't believe they’ll catch those settlers and punish them.
The settlement of Immanuel was established in the 1980s about two kilometers southeast of Jinsafut.
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.