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An agricultural plot owned by a Beit Furik resident that was torched by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the witness
An agricultural plot owned by a Beit Furik resident that was torched by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the witness

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.

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A-Tuwani and al-Mufaqarah, South Hebron Hills: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack Palestinians with stones and sticks and torch agricultural structure; soldiers fire live rounds and tear gas at the Palestinians

On Saturday, 26 June 2021, some 20 settlers invaded the village of a-Tuwani, stoned residents and beat some with sticks, injuring one. Soldiers then escorted the settlers to other communities. A settler fired at Palestinians and several others torched an agricultural structure of an a-Tuwani resident and damaged his olive grove. After the settlers retreated, other soldiers arrived and fired live fire and tear gas at the Palestinians and their homes. This is life for Masafer Yatta residents, whom Israel works to expel from their land.

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Homes in the village of a-Tuwani. Photos: Omri Eran-Vardi, 15 Jan. 2021
Homes in the village of a-Tuwani. Photos: Omri Eran-Vardi, 15 Jan. 2021

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Settler grazing flock in cultivated Palestinian field summons other settlers who attack farmers and their homes

On Saturday, 19 June 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., a settler led his flock into Jum’ah Rab’i’s (48) barley field. When he noticed Rab’i, who was also grazing his flock in the area, he summoned about ten other settlers who arrived, masked, from the direction of the Havat Ma’on outpost and attacked Rab’i with stones in front of several soldiers. Rab’i was forced to move away from the area, and when a number of villagers joined him, the settlers threw stones at them as well.

After about half an hour, the settlers left, but returned half an hour later and stoned the house of Jum’ah’s brother, Amjad Rab’I (38), and his wife Liqyah (32). The settlers injured Liqyah Rab’i, who was standing on her rooftop, and Amjad’s mother, Fatmeh Rab’i (72), who was sitting in the yard and could not escape as she is paralyzed. They smashed the sun boiler panels on the roof of the house and broke several branches of olive trees in the surrounding land. When they saw young men from the village approaching to defend the family’s home, the settlers fled. A Red Crescent ambulance came to the scene and its crew provided first aid to the injured women.

The settlement of Ma’on and the outpost of Havat Ma’on were established about 500 meters and about 200 meters from the Rab’i family’s home, respectively.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari on 28 June 2021, Liqyah Rab’i (32), a married mother of four from a-Tuwani, described the attack on her home:

I live with my husband Amjad (38) and our four children, aged eight months to 10, in a-Tuwani. The settlers attack our home so often that our children’s mental health is suffering. They wet the bed at night and have anxieties. They also refuse to sleep in their own rooms and insist on sleeping with my husband and me. They wake up a lot at night, crying and repeating what the settlers call out.

On Saturday, 19 June 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., I was standing outside the house when I saw about 10 masked settlers throwing stones with slingshots at my neighbors, in full view of about five soldiers who were in the area. The attack lasted about half an hour. At the same time, I saw setters grazing their sheep on another neighbor’s land.

After about half an hour, the settlers left. I went inside to make breakfast, but suddenly heard voices outside. I quickly went up to the roof with my brother-in-law (16) to understand what was going on. We saw about 10 masked settlers coming towards us. They started showering us with stones.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law, who’s partially paralyzed, was sitting on a chair in the yard. I tried to climb down off the roof to take her inside, but I couldn’t because of the number of stones they were throwing at us. It lasted about 10 minutes, and Musa and I were unable to escape from the roof. We started screaming for help. Meanwhile, a large stone hit me in the right shoulder and I felt a sharp pain. My shoulder is still bruised, swollen and sore.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari, Liqyah’s mother-in-law, Fatmeh Rab’i (72), recounted how the settlers injured her:

On Friday, 19 June 2021, at around 8:00 A.M., I was sitting on a chair in my yard when suddenly, I heard my daughter-in-law shouting from the roof, “Auntie, Auntie.” She asked me to run inside, but I’ve been paralyzed since a heart attack I had seven years ago and can’t walk. I leaned on another chair in the yard and tried to hide behind a tree. It protected me from some of the stones that were flying in my direction, but one of them hit me in the right thigh and it hurt a lot.

About 10 minutes later, young guys from the village started coming towards the house to defend us, and the settlers ran away. Then an ambulance arrived to take me away, but I refused to go to hospital because I was afraid the settlers would attack again. The settlers came back in the evening and wandered throughout village land until late at night.

The settlers attack us all the time, especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays. It’s been going on like this for 16 years, but lately the attacks have intensified. They were especially intense during the war in Gaza, in the final days of Ramadan.

The activist’s head wound. Photo by Emily Glick
The activist’s head wound. Photo by Emily Glick

A-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills: Settlers attack international activists escorting Palestinian teen to well; police detain activists for questioning and military issues two a restraining order from the West Bank

On 13 May 2021, in the afternoon, two American activists drove a Palestinian teen from the community of Khirbet Bir al-‘Eid to a well in the area in their car. Masked settlers who came to the scene tried to drive them away, shouted at them, and attacked the activists with sticks. The settlers also smashed the car’s windows and one of its mirrors, broke the activists’ cameras, and stole one of their cell phones. One activist (73) was hit in the head, arm, and back.

The activists and the teen fled the scene and called the police. A police officer who met them at a nearby intersection at around 6:00 P.M. informed one activist who was present at the scene and another, who was not, that they had to go to the police station in Kiryat Arba. Upon arrival, the two were interrogated on suspicion of assaulting the settlers. They then received restraining orders barring them from the West Bank for 15 days and were banned from contacting those involved in the incident for a month. After each signed a NIS 5,000 (~1540 USD) bail, the two activists were released around 4:00 A.M.

Settler fires at Palestinians on a-Shalala Street. Photo courtesy of local residents
Settler fires at Palestinians on a-Shalala Street. Photo courtesy of local residents

A-Shalala Street, central Hebron: Dozens of settlers stone Palestinian homes in front of soldiers, one fires at home

On 17 May 2021, at around midday, dozens of settlers gathered on the rooftop of Beit Hadassah, a settlement in Hebron, and began throwing stones at Palestinian homes on a-Shalala Street and at their inhabitants. Soldiers who went up to the roof did nothing to stop the attack, while other soldiers entered a-Shalala Street and dispersed residents who had gathered there with stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets.

During the clashes, an armed settler fired live rounds at neighborhood resident Mahmoud Abu Hayah, who was standing on the roof of his home, but did not hit him. The incident was captured on video and posted on social media. Israeli police officers who came to the scene suggested Abu Hayah file a complaint and then left. The settlers continued throwing stones past midnight, but the soldiers remained and confronted residents on the street until morning.

In a testimony he gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari on 3 June 2021, Mahmoud Abu Hayah (42), a married father of five from the a-Shalala neighborhood, described the settlers' attack on his home and on other Palestinian homes:

I live in the center of a-Shalala Street with my wife Nirmin and our five children. My house is right next to the Beit Hadassah settlement. I work in construction in 'Anata. On 17 May 2021, at around midday, I was sitting at home with my wife and our two small children when settlers from Beit Hadassah started throwing stones at our house, at neighboring homes and towards the street.

I went outside and climbed up to the roof with my camera to film what was happening. I saw more than 15 settlers on the roof of the Beit Hadassah settlement. Most of them were adults, and they were throwing stones. I called out to two soldiers

who were standing at an observation post on the roof of an abandoned building that overlooks a-Shalala Street by my house and Beit Hadassah. I heard one of the soldiers at the post say, "Everything's fine. It's all good." The settlers kept throwing stones right in front of the soldiers. Meanwhile, about five soldiers went up to the roof where the settlers were standing. One of them saw me filming, waved a stun grenade in front of me threateningly, and then hurled the grenade at the street.

Several residents and area shop owners had gathered on the street and were shouting at the settlers. I stayed on the roof and continued filming. I screamed at the settlers to stop throwing stones, and they responded with curses and insults and kept on throwing stones.

At one point, I hid among the water tanks to shield myself from the stones. My two sons also came up to the roof and started filming and broadcasting what was happening on Facebook. I called out to a military officer who was standing on a nearby rooftop, "Do you like that?" and he replied, in Arabic, "Living in the moment. Good night."

At around midnight, I was with my neighbor on the roof when residents of Tel Rumeidah started yelling from their roofs, to protest against the settlers' attacks. Just then, I saw a settler standing on the roof of Beit Hadassah and talking to a teenager who was standing next to him. Then the teen left and came back quickly with an M-16 rifle, which he handed to the adult settler. The settler took the rifle and cocked it. I didn't expect him to shoot and thought he was just trying to scare me. But suddenly, he fired in my direction from about 10 meters away. I was lucky I wasn’t hit. Even so, I stayed on the roof.

The settlers continued throwing stones on and off until nightfall, and clashes broke out on our street between soldiers and Palestinian youths.

That night, we didn't sleep at all until the pre-dawn meal before fasting began.

In a testimony she gave B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja'bari on 2 June 2021, Nirmin Abu Hayah (39), Mahmoud's wife and a volunteer with B'Tselem's camera project, recounted:

On 17 May 2021, at around midday, settlers from Beit Hadassah started throwing stones at our house and at neighboring homes on a-Shalala Street, including the house across the street from us.

There was nothing I could do but stand on the balcony and try to film them. At some point, the stones started hitting the roof and our window bars with such force that I closed the windows and backed away. The kids were terrified and started crying. I tried to calm them down, and then I suddenly heard gunshots that sounded really close.

I quickly climbed the stairs to the roof and started shouting, because I thought the settlers had shot my sons and husband who were up there. When I got there, my husband reassured me and told me they were fine and that the bullets had only hit the wall of the house. I begged my husband and sons to get off the roof so that they wouldn't get hurt, and they agreed. Meanwhile, a lot of soldiers and police officers arrived and one of the officers asked my husband to go file a complaint at the station. Then they left.

The settlers continued throwing stones at our house and at nearby houses until the meal before fasting began at around 3:00 A.M., and then they stopped. But the clashes with the soldiers continued until morning, and we could hear explosions and gunfire from the house.

My husband didn't file a complaint because of the attitude of the Israeli police. Every time we went to file a complaint in the past, we were forced to wait outside for a long time, and sometimes we weren't allowed in at all and had to give up.

A-Tuwani and Khirbet Sarurah, South Hebron Hills: Settlers torch pastureland and cave; soldiers escorting them fire at Palestinians who were trying to drive settlers away

On 22 May 2021, in the afternoon, several settlers from the outpost of Havat Ma’on attempted to torch pastureland belonging to the community of a-Tuwani. Residents of the village, accompanied by Israeli and international activists, went to the area to document the settlers’ actions. Several more masked settlers came to the scene and threw stones at the Palestinian residents in front of the soldiers. The latter ignored the settlers’ actions, but after the Palestinians tried to drive the settlers away from their land by throwing stones, the soldiers fired live rounds at the residents, forcing them to move away.

At the same time, several settlers came to the Khirbet Sarurah area, where they torched a cave in front of soldiers, which served as the club house for the Youth of Sumud movement, which has several young activists in the area. They also set fire to areas around the cave. The fire consumed several mattresses, a generator, and plastic chairs.

Central Hebron: Soldiers assisted by settlers violently arrest young Palestinian man and assault residents in Jaber neighborhood

On 3 June 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., several soldiers arrested an 18-year-old Palestinian from the Jaber neighborhood in Hebron and beat him. During the violent arrest, four settlers arrived, three of them armed. The settlers took an active part in the young man’s arrest and prevented his family from approaching the scene.

Over the course of the incident, settlers pepper-sprayed three Palestinians in the face. At one point, after a Palestinian youth threw an empty glass bottle that hit a settlers in the arm without injuring him, some of the soldiers advanced while threatening neighborhood residents with their weapons. One even fired in the air, causing panic among the adults and children.

Several police officers arrived and began pushing the residents away. A Red Crescent ambulance called to the scene evacuated the victims of the pepper spray attack to the ‘Alia Governmental Hospital. The soldiers put the young man they had arrested into a military jeep, and then they and the settlers left.

‘Aref Jaber (46), a neighborhood resident and father of six, recounted:

I live in the Jaber neighborhood. I’m an activist with Human Rights Defenders and am constantly documenting violations by soldiers and settlers. On 3 June 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., I was at ‘Abed Dib Jaber’s shop, which is 30 meters south of my house, on the road leading to [the settlement of] Kiryat Arba.

A kid from the neighborhood came and told me that soldiers were beating a guy from the neighborhood by the military checkpoint that's in front of my house. I ran over there and started filming what was happening on my cellphone. I saw two soldiers trying to overpower our neighbor Wasim (18). I didn’t know why. Ofer Ohana was also standing there and filming on his phone. After two minutes, four armed settlers arrived, two of them armed with an M-16 rifle and one with a handgun.

I saw the soldiers violently assaulting Wasim and trying to handcuff him. They knocked him to the ground, and then one of them pressed his knee down on his neck. One of the settlers helped the soldiers and tried to grab Wasim's legs. The other three stopped Wasim’s relatives from coming closer. One of the armed settlers also had a pepper spray can, and he was threatening anyone who came near with it. Meanwhile, Wasim’s brother ‘Alaa (26) arrived and tried to help his brother. One of the settlers pepper-sprayed him in the face, and he fell down on the road.

At that point, one Palestinian threw an empty bottle at the settlers. Then I saw two soldiers cock their weapons and start acting hysterically, chasing residents who had come to help the guy and see what was happening. One of the soldiers fired a shot in the air, and I saw other soldiers trying to rein in another soldier who had cocked his weapon while chasing women and children. I tried to film what was happening on my phone. Then a settler pepper-sprayed me in the face.

After I was sprayed, I sat down on the road and screamed in pain. My whole face was burning. My wife and kids started pouring water and milk on it. Another neighbor took my phone and continued filming. A police car arrived, and two officers got out and started shoving people. Another troop of soldiers also arrived, and they helped the other soldiers handcuff Wasim. Wasim looked like he was suffocating from the pressure the soldier was applying with his knee. I saw Wasim’s mother and sisters crying and begging the soldiers to release him after they put him in the jeep.

At that point, the soldiers acted very violently towards all the women there. The soldier who had cocked his weapon pointed it from point-blank range at Suzan Jaber, a B’Tselem volunteer. I was afraid he would shoot her. Her son Mahmoud put his arm around her and led her away from the soldier into their yard. A neighbor of mine arrived and the settler pepper-sprayed him in the face, too. One of the residents called a Red Crescent ambulance that took Fawaz and ‘Alaa to hospital. I refused to go, because I was afraid the soldiers would come into my house and arrest my sons.

Settlers armed with clubs approaching the spot. Photo courtesy of the farmers
Settlers armed with clubs approaching the spot. Photo courtesy of the farmers

Deir Jarir, Ramallah District: Settlers graze livestock in cultivated Palestinian fields and attack farmers in the presence of soldiers

In the days preceding the fighting in Gaza in May 2021, many Palestinian farmers in the West Bank avoided going to their cultivated land or grazing their flocks in open areas due to fear of escalating settler violence.

Deir Jarir farmers have long suffered from crop damage caused by settlers who graze herds of sheep and cattle in their cultivated fields. In early April 2021, the Israeli military evacuated an outpost established by settlers near cultivated plots belonging to village residents. The settlers from the outpost kept a flock of about 200 sheep and grazed it in the Palestinian farmers’ land. Shortly after the evacuation, the settlers returned, re-established the outpost on the same site, and continued grazing their flock in the fields and groves of Deir Jarir residents.

The settlers’ flock in a cultivated Palestinian area. Photo courtesy of the farmers
The settlers’ flock in a cultivated Palestinian area. Photo courtesy of the farmers

On 30 May 2021, some 10 days after the ceasefire was declared, about 10 elderly landowners from Deir Jarir decided to go to their land to check on the crops. Upon arrival, at around 5:00 P.M., the farmers encountered two settlers grazing their flock in the groves. The landowners approached the settlers and asked them to take their flock away, but they refused. After an argument that lasted about five minutes, several soldiers arrived. The farmers asked the soldiers to help them remove the settlers and their flock.

While the farmers were talking to the soldiers, cars with dozens of masked settlers carrying clubs, iron bars, and stones drove up. The settlers attacked the farmers, who were forced to flee the scene on foot, leaving their cars behind. During the attack, a settler pepper-sprayed an 80-year-old farmer, and other settlers smashed the windshields of three of the farmers’ cars.

Only after the settlers began vandalizing the cars did the soldiers remove them from the area, and the farmers could return and take their cars away.

One of the cars vandalized by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the farmers
One of the cars vandalized by the settlers. Photo courtesy of the farmers

The settlement of Kochav Hashachar was established about two kilometers east of the land.

On 7 April 2021, B’Tselem documented a settler attack on Israeli human rights activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman after he filmed them grazing their herds in cultivated Palestinian fields, about a kilometer north of the spot where the attack mentioned above occurred.

Central Hebron: Teens from Beit Hadassah settlement stone Palestinian cars and pedestrians and swear at them

On 8 May 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., Israeli teenagers came from the settlement of Beit Hadassah to a-Shalala Street in central Hebron and climbed onto the rooftops of houses and of a bank. From there, they threw stones at the protective net that covers the street, frightened passers-by and swore at them. Soldiers at a military post there did not intervene despite requests by Palestinian residents. Only after the teens crossed the street and started throwing stones directly at vehicles and pedestrians, and after residents began throwing stones back at them, about eight soldiers came over and gently removed the settlers.

The stones the settlers threw hit an area shop owner in the leg and struck two vehicles, smashing the windshield in one and a headlight in the other.

In February 2021, during the Jewish holiday of Purim, B’Tselem documented settlers from Beit Hadassah throwing objects at a nearby house and cursing the inhabitants.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash, the shop owner described the incident:

I was standing at the entrance to my shop when I saw a lot of settlers, most of them young, standing on the rooftops of stores on a-Shalala Street. They were swearing at passers-by and throwing stones. Soldiers who were in a military post a few meters away didn’t say a thing to them. It lasted more than 10 minutes. Neighborhood residents went to the soldiers and demanded they intervene, but they did nothing.

Some of the settlers moved to the roof of a bank across the street. From there, they continued to throw stones at people passing by below and at cars parked there. I was hit in the leg by a stone and then went inside my shop, so I wouldn’t get hurt. Only after a few minutes, about eight to ten soldiers arrived and made the settlers leave.

Settlers with cattle herd escorted by soldiers in Wadi Qana. Photo courtesy of farmers
Settlers with cattle herd escorted by soldiers in Wadi Qana. Photo courtesy of farmers

Wadi Qana, Salfit District: Settlers escorted by military lead herd of cattle through cultivated fields and attack farmers. Soldiers fire in the air, drive out farmers, and one attacks farmer

On Sunday, 23 May 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., about 15 settlers, escorted by about five soldiers, led a herd of some 60 cows from east to west through Wadi Qana, a fertile valley with cultivated farmland belonging to residents of Deir Istiya and other villages, which Israel is trying to take over.

Some farmers who were in the area noticed the settlers and alerted other farmers from Deir Istiya, who own citrus groves in the valley. After the cows began grazing on tree leaves, a verbal altercation developed between the farmers and the settlers and soldiers. As the altercation escalated, settlers attacked farmers with a club and pepper-spray. In addition, a soldier hit one of the farmers attacked by the settlers with his rifle butt. Meanwhile, more settlers and soldiers arrived, along with Israeli police officers. The soldiers fired in the air, detained the farmers, except for those requiring medical treatment, and blocked the entrance to the valley for Palestinians, allowing the settlers to continue leading the cows through it until they reached the other side in the evening hours.

אחת המכוניות שהשחיתו המתנחלים בוואדי קאנא
One of the cars the settlers vandalized by settlers in Wadi Qana. Photo courtesy of farmers

 

Three of the farmers required medical care at a hospital.

The military did not allow the other farmers to leave the area until late at night, at which point four of them discovered settlers had vandalized their cars. The windshields of two cars had been smashed and the tires of these and two other cars were damaged. The car owners had to use a tow truck to remove them from the area.

B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi collected testimonies from three of the farmers who were present, all residents of Deir Istiya:

In his testimony, Nassim Mansur (52), a father of five, recalled how a settler attacked him:

Nassim Mansur. Photo courtesy of witness

We were working the land, and other farmers were working in the plots next to us. Suddenly, a group of settlers showed up with their herd, and the cows started grazing on our land. We called residents to come and defend the land. The other farmers and I started driving the cows away from our land, and then one of the settlers hit me with a wooden club on my left arm. My arm hurt a lot, and I backed away from there. Later, the other farmers drove me to the hospital in Salfit, where it turned out that I had bruises and a torn tendon.

Bilal Mansur (46), a father of five, described in his testimony what unfolded when he arrived at the scene:

בילאל מנסור
Bilal Mansur. Photo courtesy of witness

At 6:30 P.M., one of the villagers called me and said that I needed to come to my land because settlers were grazing their herd there. My sons, Khader (21) and Islam (17), and I got into our car immediately and drove to the valley.

When we got there, we saw about 15 settlers, a military jeep, about five soldiers, and a herd of dozens of cattle head. I pulled over and we got out to check what was going on and why they were grazing their cattle there. But as soon as we went over, a settler armed with a club started attacking my two sons. I tried to defend them and fend him off, but another settler pepper-sprayed me in the face when I approached him. It burned a lot. I couldn’t see anything and had trouble breathing. The soldiers didn’t do anything to protect us, of course. They just fired in the air to drive us away.

I fell to the ground, and the residents who were there put me in their car and took me to the hospital. On the way, at the entrance to ‘Azzun, they transferred me to an ambulance, where there were two other farmers who’d been pepper-sprayed by the settlers. The ambulance took us to Darwish Nazal Hospital in Qalqiliyah.

Later that night, my sons returned to the valley with a tow truck and brought our car back from there, after the settlers smashed its windshield and punctured all of its tires.

In his testimony, Sai’d Zidan (65), head of the Deir Istiya council and father of four, recounted:

סעיד זידאן בבית החולים
Sai’d Zidan in the hospital. Photo courtesy of witness

When I got to the valley, I saw about 15 settlers, five soldiers, and a herd of about 60 cows who started grazing on the trees. The other farmers and I tried talking with the soldiers, but a settler with a club approached us and immediately attacked me, hitting me with the club on the shoulder. Another settler pepper-sprayed me in the face, even though the soldiers were standing around us. It was clear they were only there to protect the settlers. I fell to the ground and started screaming in pain. Then I managed to get to my feet and shouted at the soldiers. Then mutual shouting started between the soldiers and the farmers, who protested the soldiers and the settlers’ behavior, and one of the soldiers hit me on the head with his rifle butt. I felt dizzy and fell to the ground again. Meanwhile, more settlers, soldiers, and police officers arrived. The military closed off the area and prevented more farmers from accessing it. The settlers also pepper-sprayed other farmers, and we were all taken from there to hospitals.

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