Beit Iksa, al-Quds District: Settlers torch cars belonging to local resident and graffiti wall
On 19 March 2021, at around 2:00 A.M., Hammad Krishan, a 46-year-old father of eight, was woken by noise outside his house. When he went outside, he saw both his cars, which were parked out front, on fire. Krishan called the Palestinian fire department, but it took them more than half an hour to arrive, as they had to coordinate passage through the checkpoint at the entrance to the village. The Israel Police arrived and collected statements from Krishan and other residents. After a sweep of the area, the residents and the police found “Regards from Ahuvia” spray-painted on a wall in the village.
Since 16-year-old Israeli Ahuvia Sandak died during a police chase near the settlement of Kochav Hashachar on 21 December 2020, the number of violent settler attacks against Palestinians – a matter of routine in the West Bank – has sharply risen.
The Palestinian village of Beit Iksa is located northwest of Jerusalem, inside the West Bank and just outside Jerusalem’s municipal borders. In 2010, the military put up a permanent checkpoint at the only entrance to the village, and have since allowed entry into the village only to individuals whose IDs indicate they are registered as local residents or by special permit.
‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers stone Palestinian minibus that took a wrong turn [due to roadworks]
On 14 February 2021, at around 4:30 P.M., four settlers stoned a Palestinian minibus with 15 passengers onboard near the ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah water tower. The minibus driver had taken a wrong turn onto the dirt road leading to the spot, as the main road was blocked due to roadworks. The settlement of Yitzhar was built about 700 meters away from the water tower.
As the driver tried to turn the minibus around, the settlers smashed one of its windows and damaged the body. The driver stopped the minibus and got out along with several passengers. The settlers then fled toward Yitzhar.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 7 March 2021, the minibus driver, Naser ‘As’us, 51, a married father of six from the village of Burin, spoke about the attack on his minibus:
I own the Bisan transport company together with a resident of the village of ‘Urif. I also work for the company as a minibus driver on the ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah – ‘Urif – Nablus line.
On Sunday, 14 February 2021, at around 4:30 P.M., I was driving from Nablus to ‘Urif and went through ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah to drop off passengers. I let them off and was planning to continue to ‘Urif on the road I take every day, but I discovered it was closed for roadworks. I took a side road and at some point, realized I had taken a wrong turn. There was no way to turn around and go back, so I kept driving until I got close to the ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah water tower on the south side of the village, where I started turning around to head back.
Suddenly, four settlers came out of the generator room near the tower and started throwing stones at the minibus. The sound of the glass shattering was like an explosion. The passengers shouted and screamed. There were 15 passengers on the bus, mostly women and children, and only five men. I stopped the minibus and the passengers and I got out and started running away. Then the settlers ran away towards the settlement.
We got back in the minibus and I drove on. When we were far enough from the area, I stopped and checked the minibus. Thank God, the damage wasn’t serious – one window was broken and a few stones hit the body, but thank God, none of the passengers were hurt because the seat next to the broken window had been empty. I drove the passengers home to ‘Urif and returned to my village, Burin. Tomorrow I’ll have to fix the window, because you can’t leave an open window in this cold weather.
Settlement of Shilo, Ramallah District: Settlers vandalize Palestinian workers’ cars parked in lot outside settlement
In the morning hours of 18 February 2021, about 10 settlers were recorded on the security cameras of the settlement of Shilo as they smashed the windshields and punctured the tires of about 10 cars. The damaged cars belonged to Palestinians who work in the settlement but are not allowed to enter it by car.
At around 2:00 P.M., the workers were called to the parking lot outside the settlement. after, Shilo’s security coordinator arrived there as well, and claimed he did not know when the cars were vandalized and by whom. This was despite the fact he had access to footage of the incident, which was later published in the media. Police officers who were called to the scene assessed the damage, ordered the workers to remove their cars, and suggested they file a complaint at the Binyamin police station.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, one of the workers recounted what happened:
On 18 February 2021, I came to work as usual and parked my car in the lot, as other Palestinian workers and I do every day because we’re not allowed to bring our cars inside. I started working, and everything was normal. At around 2:00 P.M., the Jewish contractor called me and asked me to come to my car in the lot because there was some problem. When I got there, I discovered that my car had been damaged. The windshield and the rear window were destroyed, and all four tires were punctured. The settlement security coordinator was there, as well as several Jewish contractors and Palestinian workers. I asked the coordinator what happened. He said that he didn’t know, and it was probably young guys who came from outside the settlement and damaged the cars. He didn’t say when it happened exactly, although it turned out that there’s footage of the incident on the security cameras. It must have taken them a while to damage all the cars, and the guard didn't stop them!
The Israeli police came, and the officers checked the damage and asked the car owners to take them away. They said whoever wanted to file a complaint should go to the Binyamin police station. I asked the other workers for help, and they drove me to the village to get spare tires to take my car away. I cleaned the glass shards strewn inside the car as much as I could and found four stones, each the size of an orange. It took me two hours before I was able to get out of there with the car and drive back to the village. Repairing the car cost me 4,000 shekels (~1,212 USD).
I didn’t file a complaint with the Israeli police because my car was also damaged at the same spot about two years ago, and then I went to the police and wasted a whole day. In the end, they closed the case for lack of evidence.
On top of the financial losses, I was fired from my job two days ago. I don’t know if it’s related to the incident or not, but now I’m unemployed, too. I’m married and don’t have children yet, but I help my parents. And now I don’t know how I’ll make a living.
Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers attack homes in the town on two consecutive days. Soldiers were present during at least one of the attacks
On 30 December 2020, at around 9:30 P.M., settlers stoned a home on the northern side of Huwarah, about 100 meters away from the intersection at the town entrance on Route 60, smashing two windows.
The next day, 31 December 2020, settlers again came to the entrance of Huwarah and protested there. During the demonstration, where soldiers were present, settlers attacked a home located near the traffic circle, smashing seven of its windows.
Violent settler attacks, long since a routine matter throughout the West Bank, have increased significantly since Ahuvia Sandak, a 16-year-old Israeli, died during a police chase near the settlement of Kochav Hashachar on 21 December 2020.
Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers invade livestock enclosure, damage it, and make off with eight lambs
On Wednesday morning, 24 February 2021, Hisham Hamud (62), a married father of nine, came to his livestock enclosure, which lies about 300 meters away from the village. Upon arrival, , he discovered that settlers had cut the barbed wire fence he stretched around the enclosure and stole eight lambs.
Over the past six months, B’Tselem has documented six settler attacks against residents of Jalud. This time, the damage caused to Hamud’s enclosure is estimated at 10,000 NIS (~3,032 USD).
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Hamud recounted the invasion and the theft:
When I came to the enclosure at around 4:15 A.M., I heard bleating and found one lamb walking around the olive trees. I was amazed that she got there because the enclosure is surrounded by barbed wire. I discovered that the barbed wire fence had been cut and that the enclosure itself had been damaged. I went in and found out that all eight of my lambs, who were born a few months ago, had been stolen. I called the head of the village council and told him what had happened. At around 8:00 A.M., representatives of the Palestinian police, the Palestinian DCO, and the Israeli police arrived, took my statement, and photographed the scene. They told me they’d update me on the investigation developments and asked me to file a complaint at the Binyamin police station. The next day, I went to the station and filed a complaint, and they again told me that they’d update me, but to this day, no one has gotten back to me.
My sheep cost me a lot of money, and I invested a lot of work in them. I always wait for Ramadan to sell them, and I expected to sell the lambs that were stolen for at least 10,000 shekels.
The settlement outpost of Ahiya was established about 300 meters away from Hamud’s livestock enclosure.
Ein Samia, Ramallah District: Settlers scatter spikes at junction, puncturing tires of Palestinian tractor
On 26 February 2021, at around 7:00 A.M., Muhammad Ka’abneh (72) who lives on a farm in the ‘Ein Samia area, was driving his tractor on an agricultural road, which is used by Palestinians only, leading from ‘Ein Samia to the Alon Road. When he approached the junction near the village of Kafr Malik, his tractor drove over spikes that settlers had scattered on the road, puncturing two of its tires.
Ka’abneh got out of the tractor, picked up about 10 spikes he found scattered on the road, and reported the incident to the Palestinian DCO.
This is the second time this year that B’Tselem has documented settlers scattering spikes on a Palestinian-only road in Ramallah District.
Jalud, Nablus District: Settlers again attack homes and damage parked cars
On the night of 2 March 2021, about five settlers entered the southern neighborhood of the village. They stoned two homes, smashed the windshields of two parked cars, and fled when residents came out of their homes to defend their property. This is not the first time settlers have attacked these homes. On 23 December 2020, dozens of masked settlers raided the village, threw stones at the two homes and smashed the windshields of three cars parked on the street.
The settlements of Shilo and Shvut Rachel and the outposts of Ahiya and Esh Kodesh were established about a kilometer from the village. Since October 2020, B’Tselem has documented seven cases in which settlers damaged residents’ property;this is the fifth published on our blog.
Bruqin, Salfit District: Settlers vandalize car of family spending time on their farmland
On 6 March 2021, at around midday, Hatem al-Haj (66), his wife and their children went to their plot, which stretches over 11 dunams of land [1 dunam = 1,000 sq. meters]. The settlement of Bruchin was established south of the plot.
While the family was spending time on their land, about five settlers arrived and began to vandalize their car, which was parked about 200 meters away. The settlers punctured the tires, smashed the windows with stones and damaged the chassis. Al-Haj, who heard and saw the settlers vandalizing his car, ran towards them to drive them away, and the settlers fled towards the settlement of Bruchin. The family had to call a tow truck to transport the car back to the village, and the repairs will be expensive.
Kafr a-Dik, Salfit District: Settlers destroy agricultural structure recently set up in villager’s grove
On Thursday, 4 March 2021, during the daytime, Shadi Sai’d (41) went to his grove north of the village and discovered that settlers had destroyed an agricultural structure he had put up about a month ago. During the construction, several settlers had come to the site and photographed the works.
The settlement of Bruchin was established about 500 meters east of Sa’id’s plot.
Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers invade yard, pelt it with stones and vandalize parked cars
On 2 March 2021, at around 11:00 P.M., dozens of settlers invaded the yard of the Demeidi family home, located in the southwestern side of the town of Huwarah, and pelted it with stones.
The settlers smashed four of the home’s windows, splashed paint on its walls and broke roof tiles installed above the front door. In addition, they severely vandalized a car parked in the yard: smashing its windows, puncturing its tires, breaking the headlights and the sideview mirrors, and damaging the chassis.
Later that night, a resident of the town, whose car was parked about 100 meters away from the Demeidis’ home, discovered that settlers had smashed its windshield.
Since the beginning of 2020, B’Tselem has documented 12 settler attacks on residents, homes, and property in the town of Huwarah.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Ghaleb Demeidi (48), a married father of five, described the attack on his home by settlers:
I was sitting in the living room with my wife Sanaa, our four children, and Karam, my daughter Raghad’s (21) fiancée. Suddenly, we heard a commotion outside and sounds of stones landing like heavy rain. We didn’t understand what was going on. We heard glass shattering. Glass flew into the house and we heard pounding on the front door, which is made of metal. It was terrifying! I didn’t know what to do. I looked out the kitchen window and saw about 20 to 30 settlers in our yard. Some of them were wrecking my daughter’s fiancée, Karam’s car, and others were throwing stones at the house.
I went up to the roof with Karam and we yelled at the settlers from there and called the neighbors. My wife called our relatives and friends to come and protect us because when the settlers see people gathering, they get spooked and leave. And that’s exactly what happened – when they saw our relatives, friends, and us, they started moving away towards the settlement of Yitzhar.
We were totally shocked by what happened. The quantity of stones that were in the yard and on the front steps was unbelievable, and the noise they caused was terrifying.
After about half an hour, the settlement security coordinator drove up with two military jeeps. They must have arrived because villagers who’d come to help us had gathered there with their cars. The settler and the soldiers asked us what had happened. We told them about what the settlers had done, but they didn’t care and left right away.
This wasn’t the first time settlers attacked our neighborhood. A few months ago, they attacked our neighbor’s house, and destroyed his car.
The settlement of Yitzhar was established about a kilometer from the attacked home.
Israel’s regime of apartheid and occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, 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.