On 17 Nov. 2018, a 72-year-old resident of Tel Rumeidah, Hebron, called an ambulance when she did not feel well. After coordination with the military, the ambulance set out, but was attacked by 15 settlers. They threw stones at the ambulance, penetrating the back windows, and verbally abused the crew. Settler violence against Palestinians in Hebron is routine. It is part of Israel’s discriminatory regime of separation in the city and is rarely investigated. Without deterrence, these attacks are bound to recur.
On Friday, 26 Oct, 2018, dozens of settlers tried yet again to invade an archeological site on land belonging to the village of al-Mazra'ah al-Qibliyah, escorted by security forces, as they have done over the last few months. They soon retreated, but clashes between the forces and residents continued. Later, when the forces began to leave, several dozen young men from the village ran after them. When they got close, at least one Border Police officer fired at them, wounding nine, two of whom died afterwards. Settlers frequently invade Palestinian-owned land with security forces’ backup. Yet the lethal outcome of this incident is unusual and defies every letter of the open fire regulations.
The olive harvest was once a joyful time for Palestinian families. Yet for many years now, it has been taking place under the shadow of landgrab, restrictions on access to land, attacks on harvesters and vandalization of trees. This reality, which forces farmers to abandon their lands, is no accident. It is the outcome of Israeli policy, facilitating the takeover of land to expand settlements or advance other Israeli interests. This year, B’Tselem recorded 2 physical assaults on harvesters and 9 cases of vandalization or crop theft in the Nablus and Ramallah Districts.
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.
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.