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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.

Burin, Nablus District: Settlers stone ‘Eid family’s home for third time in seven months

On 14 May 2021, at around 5:00 P.M., about 10 settlers, some of them masked, came to the ‘Eid family’s home. Some of them threw stones at the house, breaking two security cameras mounted on it. Soldiers who were escorting them fired tear gas canisters, live bullets and rubber-coated metal bullets at residents who came to defend the house. The attack lasted until around 7:00 P.M. Five village residents were injured by live fire and eight by rubber-coated metal bullets.

B’Tselem documented two recent settler attacks on the family’s home. On 4 May 2021, settlers stoned the house and soldiers escorting them fired tear gas canisters at residents who came to defend it. The soldiers also sent up flares, which started a fire in a nearby olive grove. Village residents and Palestinian firefighters put out the fire.

About seven months earlier, on 9 October 2020, settlers threw stones at the house. Soldiers escorting them fired tear gas canisters at residents, causing a boy who inhaled the gas to faint.

Wadi al-Hasin, central Hebron: Settlers invade neighborhood escorted by two soldiers, stone homes, open live fire and attack resident in his yard with pepper spray and large stone

At around 8:30 P.M. on 21 May 2021, about 20 settlers, some of them armed, invaded the Wadi al-Hasin neighborhood of central Hebron.  The settlers, who were escorted by two soldiers, wandered among the homes and some fired live shots. This is not the first time settlers have attacked the neighborhood, which is surrounded by a fence separating it from the settlement of Kiryat Arba. B’Tselem documented a previous attack that took place in June 2020.

In this case, the settlers entered a home belonging to the extended Abu S’eifan family. One pepper-sprayed Hisham Abu S’eifan (52), a father of six, in the face, and another threw a stone that hit him in the chest.

The next day, two armed settlers entered the neighborhood again, causing fresh panic, and left. Hisham Abu S’eifan went to the police station in Kiryat Arba and filed a complaint over his assault on 21 May 2021.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari, Hisham Abu S’eifan recounted:

We live with three of our children in our apartment, and my mother and brothers live next door. Our homes are right by the fence that separates us from the settlement of Kiryat Arba. The settlers attack us all the time, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.

The latest attack was on Friday, 21 May 2021, at around 8:30 P.M. I was sitting with my wife and kids when we heard shots. My wife ran to the window and said that setters were throwing stones at homes in the neighborhood. We went over to my mother’s house right away to make sure she was okay. Then my son Jamil (27) and I went back home and went out to the porch. We saw about 20 settlers, and some of them were shooting at houses. Residents were shouting “Allahu akbar” and some young guys from the neighborhood were throwing stones at the settlers. Suddenly, I saw the settlers go into our yard with two soldiers. We went outside and asked them to get out of the yard. I told them we had security cameras. One of the settlers kicked me in the leg. I pushed him and then he pepper-sprayed me in the face. Another settler threw a large stone at me, which hit me in the chest. It was very painful.

My face was burning and I found it hard to breathe. I fell down. Jamil helped me up and I washed my face with water, but the stinging and shortness of breath continued. My chest still hurt a lot.

 

Hisham’s brother, Jamal Abu S’eifan (50), who lives next door, also told B’Tselem what he recalled of that night:

I went out to the yard and saw a lot of settlers, some of them armed, attacking my brother Hisham’s house. There were two soldiers with them. The settlers were firing live shots at homes and residents were shouting “Allahu akbar”. Some of them were throwing stones at the settlers to get them away from the homes.

More soldiers arrived and made the settlers leave. I went over to Hisham’s house and saw him lying on the ground, screaming in pain. His son Jamil helped him get up and wash his face. Eight soldiers showed up, and one suggested that Hisham wash his face with milk. Then a Civil Administration official arrived and we told him what happened. He promised to take care of the matter and prevent the settlers from doing it again.

The soldiers left, but the settlers continued throwing stones at our homes from across the fence until about 10:00 P.M.

THE WINDSHIELD SMASHED BY THE SETTLERS.
THE WINDSHIELD SMASHED BY THE SETTLERS.

Huwarah-Jit Road: Settlers stone Palestinian cars, fracturing one driver’s shoulder

On 3 May 2021, at around 11:30 P.M., three friends from the village of Far’on were traveling home after driving a friend to the village of Far’ata, south of Nablus. On their way back, as they passed by the Huwara-Jit Road (Route 60), near which the settlement of Yitzhar was established, a settler threw a stone at their car, shattering the windshield and hitting the driver, ‘Abd al-Latif Badir (30), in the shoulder.

The car swerved and grazed the guardrail, but Badir managed to stop it by the roadside. His friends called an ambulance and the Palestinian police and notified the Palestinian DCO. A Red Crescent ambulance and a military jeep arrived about 15 minutes later. The soldiers spoke with the ambulance driver, but not with Badir or his friends.

Badir was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he was X-rayed and diagnosed with a shoulder fracture. He was discharged on 9 May 2021 and does not recall the incident.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi on 5 May 2021, Badir’s friend, A.A., described what happened that night:

I invited my friend from Far’ata to the Iftar dinner. He’s an engineer and is overseeing the construction of my home. I also invited two friends from the village, ‘Abdallah Badir and Usayed ‘Omar. At night, we drove my friend back to Far’ata in the new Volkswagen Passat that ‘Abdallah bought a few months ago. On the way back, when we were near the settlement of Yitzhar, I was in the passenger seat and Abdallah was driving, when I saw a stone flying at us. I ducked and yelled to ‘Abdallah to watch out. He was hit in the shoulder. The car swerved right and left before ‘Abdallah finally managed to bring it to a halt, after grazing the guardrail. Usayed and I got out of the car and called the police and a Palestinian ambulance. We also called the Palestinian DCO. A Red Crescent ambulance and a military jeep arrived. The soldiers spoke with the medical crew but didn’t speak to us at all. The ambulance took ‘Abdallah to hospital in Nablus and I went with him. Usayed and some people who came to help him drove ‘Abdallah’s car to the village of Burin.

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