The village of ‘Urif, southwest of Nablus, has suffered from attacks by settlers from Yitzhar and its outposts. Since March, B'Tselem has documented six such attacks, some cases with the active participation of soldiers, as well as the seizure of private land, These actions seek to de facto annex the land to the settlements. As a result, Palestinians lose not only their land but also their livelihood. The consistent behavior of the security forces shows total disregard for Palestinian lives, safety, and property.
From 1 May to 7 July 2018, B'Tselem documented 10 cases in which settlers destroyed 2,000+ trees and vines and burned a barley field and hay bales in the West Bank. Some of the farmers have suffered repeat attacks. Despite this upsurge, settler violence is routine and fully backed by Israeli authorities: soldiers take part in some assaults and stand by in others; the police do not seriously investigate or act to prevent or stop attacks. Israel benefits from this gradual dispossession of Palestinians, which paves the way for a state takeover.
On 2 June 2018, after settlers assaulted a shepherd aged 71 just outside the village of ‘Urif, clashes erupted with local residents. Soldiers who arrived on the scene joined the settlers, throwing stun and teargas grenades, firing “rubber” bullets, and beating several Palestinians with their rifle butts. This incident is not exceptional: such attacks take place routinely, with the full support of senior officers and government ministers, and no effort is made to stop or prevent them.
On 6 March 2018, some 30 settlers coming from the direction of Yitzhar attacked two Palestinian men working on ‘Einabus village land. After the two escaped, the settlers retreated and returned with soldiers, entering into mutual stone-throwing with residents rallied on the village loudspeaker. The soldiers joined the assault with live fire, “rubber” bullets and teargas. Six residents were injured. Such attacks, which keep Palestinians away from their land, are part of the occupation routine, which Israel exploits to grab more land.
On 10 Mar. 2018, 20-30 settlers accompanied by three armed soldiers came from Yitzhar to ‘Urif village land. The settlers and villagers exchanged stones, and the soldiers fired crowd control measures and live ammunition at the Palestinians. After the settlers left, the soldiers remained and villagers threw stones at them. One soldier shot and killed ‘Omayr Shhadeh, 19, and injured a boy of 14. This is another instance in which soldiers protected settlers who enter Palestinian land and throw stones at local residents, while Israeli authorities consistently do not enforce the law in such cases.
In two of the incidents B’Tselem documented, settlers injured Palestinians and in one they killed and injured sheep. This is part of the violent routine of occupation in the West Bank. Israeli security forces are often on site during such incidents yet do nothing to stop them, and sometimes even take part in the attack. The authorities rarely take action against the perpetrators. This policy leaves Palestinians defenseless and effectively barred from many parts of the West Bank, for fear of assault, enabling the state to take over land and resources.
Following an attack in which Palestinians killed Raziel Shevach near Havat Gilad on 9 Jan., settlers threw stones at cars and homes in the area. The military then barred Palestinian traffic along a section of Route 60 for 3 weeks. The day after the attack, Havat Gilad settlers threw stones at homes in Far’ata, breaking windows. No one was arrested. These repeated settler attacks undermine the sense of personal security of local residents, who are constantly at risk of attack. The complete lack of accountability teaches settlers they may attack Palestinians with impunity.
Israel’s regime of 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.