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From the field

While millions of people in Israel and the West Bank are under lockdown, state-backed settler violence continues unabated. Settlers are attacking Palestinian shepherds in pastureland and entering villages, attacking residents and destroying their property. Despite the coronavirus crisis, the escalated violence has continued in recent weeks.

October 2020

‘Abd al-Basset Ahmad who was wounded during the attack on his home, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 24 Oct. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem.
‘Abd al-Basset Ahmad who was wounded during the attack on his home, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 24 Oct. 2020. Photo by Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem.

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Some 20 settlers stone Palestinian family’s home, injuring father

On Saturday, 24 October 2020, ‘Abed al-Basset and Maysaa’ Ahmad (both 52) were at home with three of their six children and a grandson. At around 3:30 P.M., a village resident called to say he had noticed settlers approaching their home. ‘Abed al-Basset went outside and saw some 20 settlers drawing near. He tried to stop them from reaching his home, and in response, they starting throwing stones at him. One of the stones hit him in the head and he started bleeding.

About an hour later, soldiers arrived in a military jeep and threw stun grenades at residents who had gathered to defend the house. The settlers moved about 100 meters away, and several soldiers kept them at bay. The other soldiers stayed by the house. About a half hour later, the soldiers and the settlers left.

‘Abed al-Basset went to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where his head was bandaged and he was discharged. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a Deb’i on 25 October 2020, he spoke about the attack:

I was at home with my wife and three of our kids – Muhammad, Anis and Bisan – and our grandson Sham. I make sure not to go to work on Saturdays because that’s when settlers tend to attack our homes. At around 3:30 P.M., a village resident called and told me that a group of settlers was making its way towards our house from the east.

I immediately went up to the roof and saw about 20 masked settlers behind the neighboring house, which belongs to my son Rafiq. I climbed back down and asked my wife to close all the doors and windows. Then I went outside to shout at the settlers to leave, because I was afraid they’d come inside.

The settlers were about three meters away and the minute they saw me, they started throwing stones at me. I tried to hide behind a fence and picked up a stick to try and scare them away, but they kept throwing stones at me.  

I heard my wife screaming and calling for help, but I knew that our neighbors were out harvesting and that if anyone was home, it was probably women and children.

The settlers threw a lot of stones at me, which hit me in the legs, shoulders and arms. A stone hit my head and I heard one of them say: “Blood!” I said nothing was wrong, but then I suddenly saw a lot of blood dripping. Just then, some village residents arrived and the settlers backed away a bit and kept on throwing stones at us. About an hour later, a military jeep arrived from the direction of Yitzhar. The soldiers came towards us, threw about four stun grenades at us and fired several shots in the air. One of them said he was an officer and didn’t want any trouble. He said the police were on the way.

Things calmed down a bit and I told the residents that the police would come and we’d file a complaint. The settlers moved about 100 meters away and six soldiers went along and kept them from reaching us. The other soldiers stayed next to us, to keep us away from the settlers.

About an hour after the incident, the head of the village council took me to hospital, where they stitched up my wound and discharged me. When I got home, I found out that the police had never arrived and that the soldiers had stayed until nightfall and left.

A destroyed chain link fence in a-Sawiyah, 21 Oct. 2020. Photo by village council.
A destroyed chain link fence in a-Sawiyah, 21 Oct. 2020. Photo by village council.

A-Sawiyah, Nablus District: Settlers destroy chain-link fence on resident’s land

On Wednesday morning, 21 October 2020, Ahmad Nafe’a (32) from a-Sawiyah discovered that settlers had destroyed the chain-link fence he had put up around his land that week. The fence was supposed to protect the plot from incursions, after settlers damaged 30 of his olive trees on 17 September 2020.

The plot lies about 600 meters from the homes on the western edge of the village. The settlement of Rehelim was established in 1991 about a kilometer from the plot.


Israeli settlers cut down 300 olive trees in the village of al-Jab'ah, Hebron District

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhsash on 15 October 2020, Khaled Masha’lah (69), a father of six from the village of al-Jab’ah in Hebron District, spoke about 300 olive trees settlers cut down in his plot:

I own 7 hectares of land east of al-Jab’ah, about a kilometer from my home. Twenty years ago, I planted olive trees there. I’ve tended to them ever since because they’re my family’s source of income. I've enjoyed the olive harvest in the last four years, and every year the yield has been better. I estimated that I’d harvest half a ton of olives this year.

Last Saturday, 10 October 2020, I went to my land to check on the trees. I was thrilled to see the fruit and planned to come back a week later to start harvesting. Three days later, on Tuesday, 13 October 2020, my wife and I were harvesting olives in another plot we own when I got a phone call informing me that my trees in Jab’ah had been damaged. I left everything, drove to my plot and met my neighbor there. I was shocked by what I saw! I can’t describe how I felt in those moments. I cried, not only over the olive trees but also over the hard work I’d invested in them for twenty years. My wife and I tended to the land from morning till night. We cared for the trees the way you care for children.

I called the Israel Police and told them that 300 olive trees, six of them 100 years old and the rest 20 years old, had been cut down. The next day, police officers came to the plot and photographed what was left of the trees. Then an officer from the Israeli DCO spoke to me on the phone. I think the vandals were settlers from Bat Ayin. I assume they came at night, because the day before, my neighbor was grazing his flock in the area and told me the trees were fine.

I don’t know what I’m going to do now. Twenty years ago, I had more strength. I would walk a kilometer carrying water for irrigation and tools by hand. It was tough, but I did everything I could to get to the land and take care of the trees. Now I’m older and can’t do things like that anymore.

Soldiers come to ‘Amer Abu Hejleh’s land and arrest him after false complaint filed by settler. Deir Istiya, 11 Nov. 2020.  Photo courtesy of witness.
Soldiers come to ‘Amer Abu Hejleh’s land and arrest him after false complaint filed by settler. Deir Istiya, 11 Nov. 2020. Photo courtesy of witness.

Deir Istiya, Salfit District: Police arrest Palestinian after settlers file false complaint against him in order to take over his land. During the arrest, settlers and soldiers try to prevent olive harvesting on the land.

On Saturday morning, 10 October 2020, ‘Amer Abu Hejleh (56), a resident of Deir Istiya in Salfit District, went to his plot. Several members of his family and Palestinian and Israeli human rights activists came along to help him seal a swimming pool settlers that had dug on his property during the lockdown imposed by the Palestinian Authority last April. In September, after Abu Hejleh filed a complaint, the Civil Administration drained the pool and confiscated benches the settlers set up next to it.

Back to that Saturday: A few minutes after the group reached the land, several settlers arrived, escorted by the security coordinator from the settlement of Yakir and three soldiers riding in his car. The settlers tried to drive Abu Hejleh and his friends out, and an argument ensued. A police car arrived and the officers checked the IDs of those present. They then arrested Abu Hejleh,on the grounds that settlers had filed a complaint against him in May. When an Israeli activist tried to intervene and prevent the arrest, the officers arrested him, too. He was released a few hours later, but Abu Hejleh was interrogated at the police station in Ariel and transferred to Ofer Prison. He was held at Ofer for three days and released without charges, after paying a 3,000 shekel (~890 USD) fine.

On 11 October 2020, while Abu Hejleh was in custody, some 30 Palestinian volunteers went to his land to help the family harvest their olive trees. At around 11:00 A.M, about 10 settlers showed up, escorted by three soldiers. They tried to drive the volunteers out, claiming that they hadn’t coordinated the harvest with the DCO. Only after an hour and a half did the soldiers and settlers leave, and the harvesters continued their work. 


Burin, Nablus District: Israeli settlers stone homes, escorted by soldiers who fire tear gas at residents; child faints from inhalation

On Friday, 9 October 2020, at around 6:00 P.M., about 20 settlers arrived at the northeastern neighborhood of Burin, a village in Nablus District. They spread out in the area and some of them started throwing stones at the home of the ‘Eid family, where Ibrahim (50) and Ghadah (46) live with their nine children ranging in age from 7 to 19. Five soldiers escorting the settlers hurled stun grenades and fired tear gas canisters at neighbors who came to the family’s defense.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 20 October 2020, ‘Ali ‘Eid (18) described the incident:

I was reading a book in my room when I heard noises outside, behind the house. I went down to the first floor and turned on the screen that’s connected to the security cameras we installed on the roof. Meanwhile, I heard stones landing in our yard. I saw about three settlers throwing stones at our house.

I called out to my mother and sisters and we started closing the windows, because we were afraid the stones and tear gas would get in. I went up to the second floor and before I managed to close the windows, a stone ripped through one of the window screens and landed inside. Luckily, I wasn’t hit.

I went back down to the first floor and watched what was happening outside on the security cameras. Stones were raining down on our yard. Slowly, more and more settlers arrived, most of them wearing masks. There were several soldiers with them. The soldiers tried a little to push them away, but they also threw stun grenades and fired tear gas canisters at neighbors who gathered around our house to protect us.

On the cameras, I saw my father coming home with my two brothers, ‘Osama (19) and Muhammad (7). He drove into our garage and parked there. The soldiers threw more and more stun grenades at our house, and even though we closed all the windows, the gas still got in. I went and got onions and alcohol to make it easier for us all to breathe.

Ibrahim ‘Eid left his sons in the garage, where he assumed they would be protected from the attack. Yet tear gas started seeping in and they found it hard to breathe. ‘Osama phoned his mother for help.

In a testimony he gave on 20 October 2020, ‘Osama ‘Eid said:

I was out with my father and younger brother Muhammad (7) when people from the village called and told us our home was under attack. We jumped in the car and went home. When we got there, we saw about ten settlers attacking the house with stones. They were throwing stones at the entrance. My father drove into the garage and asked us to stay there so we wouldn’t get hurt. He wanted to go inside and check on my mother and other brothers.

The garage has no windows or light, so I turned on the flashlight on my father’s cellphone, which he left in the car. Muhammad and I heard stun grenades hit the garage walls and land nearby. The gas slowly started seeping in, and it became hard to breathe. Muhammad started crying and said, “I don’t want to die.”

I called my mom and told her we might die from the tear gas, because the garage door doesn’t open from the inside. I asked her to send help. Meanwhile, Muhammad passed out. I didn’t know what to do. I took a tool that was lying there and tried to make a hole in the wall to let some air in, but it didn’t work. I felt that I was dying. I’ve never felt that way before, like I really couldn’t breathe. About five minutes later, some guys from the village opened the door, let us out and took us to the village fire station, where we were given oxygen.

It was the most violent attack I’ve been through since we moved to this house seven years ago.

About 15 minutes later, the settlers moved a few dozen meters away from the ‘Eid family’s home. When they finally left the village, at around 9:00 P.M., they left behind a yard full of stones and a broken projector on the ‘Eids’ roof.

The next day, Saturday, at around 5:30 P.M., about 20 settlers arrived at the eastern part of the village. This time, they stoned the Ziben family’s home, which lies about 800 meters from the ‘Eid home. Four of them tried to break in, but about 20 village residents arrived and the settlers drew back some 50 meters, towards a neighborhing house under construction that also belongs to the ‘Eid family. At the same time, a military jeep arrived. Several soldiers got out and started firing tear gas canisters at the residents. The soldiers allowed the settlers to damage the house under construction and break four of its windows without intervening.

Soldiers accompanying settlers who attacked harvesters in Huwarah, 7 Oct. 2020. Photo by Dina Chizhik, B’Tselem.
Soldiers accompanying settlers who attacked harvesters in Huwarah, 7 Oct. 2020. Photo by Dina Chizhik, B’Tselem.

Huwarah, Nablus District: Dozens of settlers attack residents and volunteers harvesting olives. Soldiers hurl stun grenades and tear gas canisters at the victims instead of protecting them.

On Wednesday afternoon, 7 October 2020, about 40 residents of Huwarah went with Israeli and foreign volunteers to harvest olives in a grove owned by farmer Saba’ ‘Odeh on the southwestern side of the village. The plot is designated part of Area C.

Out of 500 olive trees in the grove, only 150 of yield fruit as settlers vandalized and burned the rest. After the harvesters started working, five settlers suddenly appeared, escorted by about seven soldiers. The settlers confronted the residents and demanded they leave.

A few minutes later, dozens of settlers arrived, some of them wearing masks, also escorted by dozens of soldiers. The settlers divided into groups and began throwing stones at the harvesters while the soldiers hurled stun grenades and tear gas canisters at the harvesters and ordered them to leave.

At one point, ‘Odeh was asking soldiers to remove the settlers when a soldier and a settler pounced on him, knocking him to the ground, and the settlers continued throwing stones at him.

Two village residents were injured by stones and taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where they were treated and discharged.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, Jihad ‘Odeh (53), a father of six, a carpenter and a member of the village council, described the attack:

At around 11:00 A.M., I went to Saba’ Odeh’s land with some volunteers. While we were working, I saw about five settlers with white clothes and cameras. Because of the cameras I thought they were reporters, but then I realized they were settlers. They ordered me and the guy who was harvesting with me to leave. I told them in Arabic, “I’m picking olives on my land.”

One of them asked me if I had a permit. I told him, “We don’t need a permit because we’re on our land. And you, what are you doing here?” He answered, “You’re looking for trouble.” I said, “You’re the one looking for trouble. Get lost.” He said, “All this mess over a few olives?”

At that point, another 30 or so settlers arrived. They had masks on and looked young, in their twenties. They started throwing stones at us. There were about 20 soldiers with them.

We tried to get away and find cover, but the settlers came after us and kept throwing stones. The soldiers didn’t do a thing except order us to leave and yell at us, as if we were the ones who’d attacked the settlers.

At the same time, I saw Saba’, the landowner, trying to talk to the soldiers and asking them to remove the settlers from the area until everyone calmed down. The settlers were throwing stones at him and the soldiers didn’t even try to protect him. One of the soldiers and a settler pushed Saba’ to the ground. That wasn’t enough for about seven other settlers, who kept on throwing stones at him.

I didn’t know what to do. One of the residents called out to me and said, “They’ll kill you. Get out of here quickly.” The settlers were like wolves. I tried to run away, but a stone hit me in the left leg and I fell over. My cellphone fell and broke. One of the settlers was holding a large stone and was about to throw it at my head, but a soldier stopped him. He could have killed me.

One guy managed to lift me up and help me get away. Meanwhile, the soldiers started throwing tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the harvesters to make them leave. The settlers split up into groups of seven or eight, and each group chased several harvesters until they drove us all out.

I was taken to a safe place and from there driven by ambulance to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. They X-rayed me and found only bruises, but the pain still hasn’t gone away.

An Olive tree harvested by settlers, ‘Ein Yabrud, 7 Oct. 2020. Photo by Samir Jabra.
An Olive tree harvested by settlers, ‘Ein Yabrud, 7 Oct. 2020. Photo by Samir Jabra.

‘Ein Yabrud, Ramallah District: Settlers harvest 70 ancient olive trees belonging to Palestinians, and steal the olives

On 7 October 2020, at around 9:00 A.M., a farmer from ‘Ein Yabrud noticed some five settlers harvesting olive trees on private land belonging to three farmers from the village. It later transpired that the settlers had started picking the olives two days earlier and altogether stole the fruit off 70 trees, which are 100 years old.

As the olives could have produced some 900 liters of oil, the theft cost the owner tens of thousands of shekels. The settlers also vandalized the trees, which could damage their yield next season. One of the farmers went to the police station in Beit El to file a complaint, but the officers refused to register it and advised him to return to his land to harvest the remaining fruit.

The groves from which the olives were stolen lie west of ‘Ein Yabrud. The settlement of Beit El was established in 1977 west of them. 

September 2020


Qusrah, Nablus District: Israeli settlers attack farmers, damage chicken coops and kill over 300 chickens

On 26 Sep. 2020, settlers stoned a family working its land near the village of Qusrah and vandalized 12 olive trees belonging to another family.

They stoned two chicken coops on the outskirts of the village, damaged water container s and pipes – causing the death of over 300 chickens and chicks – and tried unsuccessfully to torch a tractor and a truck.

They were accompanied by soldiers who fired tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets at villagers who tried to help the victims.

Cut down trees in a-Sawiyah, 17 September 2020.  Photo: Odeh al-Khatib
Cut down trees in a-Sawiyah, 17 September 2020. Photo: Odeh al-Khatib

A-Sawiyah, Nablus District: Settlers break dozens of olive tree branches and uproot 42 olive seedlings

About two years ago, ‘Odeh al-Khatib (59), a married father of seven from the village of a-Sawiyah, planted 42 olive seedlings in his plot, which lies about three kilometers west of the village homes. Since then, he watered the seedlings every three days.

On Thursday, 17 September 2020, al-Khatib came to his plot and discovered that settlers had uprooted his seedlings and broken dozens of olive tree branches in adjacent plots owned by other villagers. Al-Khatib called the head of the village council and reported the damage.

The settlement of Nofei Nehemia was established about 400 meters from the plots.

In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i, al-Khatib described what happened next:

The day after the incident, the council head called me and told me that Israeli DCO staff would come to the area. I refused to meet them there because I’m certain that they have no intention of doing anything. I don’t want to go to my plot again and see my little seedlings uprooted and withered.

It should be mentioned that there’s a settler ranch, Nofei Nehemia, that split off from the settlement of Rehelim and is only about 400 to 500 meters away.  Since the day it was built, settlers have damaged olive trees in the area several times. My plot is in an area defined as Area B and doesn’t require security coordination to reach it, but it’s still not protected from the settlers’ violent attacks.


Hebron: Israeli teens stone Palestinian home in Hebron and harass female owner

The Da’na family lives in the Al-Harika neighborhood of Hebron, next to which the settlement of Kiryat Arba was established in 1972. The residents of the neighborhood have been suffering from repeated attacks and harassment by settlers and daily raids by soldiers, as documented by B’Tselem. On 11 September 2020, youth from the settlement stoned the family’s home. When Mai Da’na began to film the attack from the window of her home, the settlers swore at her and undressed in front of her.

Cut down trees in Ras Karkar, 9 September 2020
Cut down trees in Ras Karkar, 9 September 2020

Ras Karkar, Ramallah District: Settlers exploit military restriction on farmer’s access to land to damage over 200 olive trees

On Wednesday morning, 9 September 2020, a farmer from the village of Ras Karkar discovered that settlers had damaged 20 olive trees, which were 50 years old, on his land northeast of the village. The military only permits him to access the land after prior coordination.

The settlement of Nerya was established in 1991 not far from there.

The farmer received permission to return to his land only a week later, and discovered that settlers had damaged another 170 or so olive trees.


Israeli soldiers guard settler entering Khirbet a-Tuba allegedly looking for stolen sheep

On the night of 7 Sep. 2020, about ten settlers came with an escort of soldiers to the Palestinian community of Khirbet a-Tuba in the South Hebron Hills to allegedly search for stolen sheep. One of the settlers entered the community’s territory guarded by soldiers and roamed around as he pleased, until leaving without finding anything.

The settlement of Ma’on was established in 2001 about a kilometer from the community of Khirbet a-Tuba.


Huwarah, Nablus District: Settlers invade Palestinian family’s yard and smash windows and slash tires of two cars

On 6 Sep. 2020, at around 3:00 A.M., eight settlers were recorded on security cameras as they vandalized cars at the rear parking lot of the S’adeh family home in the western neighborhood of Huwarah. The settlers punctured three tires and smashed the windshield and rear window of the family’s car and another vehicle parked in front of their home.

On 6 September 2020, at around 3:30 A.M., eight settlers were captured on security cameras vandalizing cars in the S’adeh family’s yard in the western neighborhood of Huwarah. The settlers punctured three tires and smashed the windshield and rear window of the family’s car and of another vehicle parked out front.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 6 September 2020, Salam S’adeh (44), a mother of five, recounted:

I was woken by sounds outside. I got out of bed in our bedroom, which is on the second floor, and went out to the balcony overlooking the yard. I saw a group of settlers there but when I came out, they ran away.

After they left, I went down to the first floor and looked out the windows to make sure they hadn’t burned anything. When I saw everything was okay, I checked on the children and went back to bed. I didn’t wake my husband or my eldest son, Qaisar, because they both had to get up early for work. I tried to go back to sleep, but I was too worried the settlers would come back. Every time I fell asleep, I woke up again and looked outside to make sure they hadn’t returned.

At around 5:00 A.M., after I woke my husband up to get ready for work, I told him what had happened. We went outside and found the windshield and rear window of our car smashed. There were stones scattered on the ground. There was also damage to the chassis.
Qaisar and I checked the security camera footage and saw a recording of eight settlers entering the yard. One settler punctured three of the car’s tires and then some others threw stones at the car and ran away. A neighbor’s car was parked out front and they smashed its windshield and rear window, too.  

My husband called the village council in the morning and notified them, but no one came.

I can’t believe this happened to us. It’s the first time settlers have attacked us. I keep thinking they could have easily burned down our car or our house! I can’t stop thinking about the Dawabsheh family the settlers firebombed five years ago in the village of Duma. They wiped out an entire family: a mother, father and son. Only one child survived.

Right now, the most important thing is that we emerged safe and sound, and I don’t care about anything else. You can be compensated for damage, but not for losing someone.

Uprooted olive seedling in Turmusaya, 6 September 2020. Photo: Iyad Hadad
Uprooted olive seedling in Turmusaya, 6 September 2020. Photo: Iyad Hadad

Turmusaya, Ramallah District: Settlers uproot olive seedlings and steal parts of fence around plot

On Sunday, 6 September 2020, farmers from the village of Turmusaya discovered that settlers had uprooted more than 40 olive seedlings, which were three years old, from farmland east of the village.

In an adjacent plot, settlers had uprooted and stolen four vine seedlings and ten olive seedlings, which were three years old. They also vandalized a 40-meter-long fence and stole its gate, along with 15 iron posts. The settlement of Adei Ad was established about a kilometer from the plot.

A soldier confronts settler children who threw stones at Palestinians in Tel Rumeidah, Hebron, 5 Sep. 2020. Photo: Nadiah Jaber.
A soldier confronts settler children who threw stones at Palestinians in Tel Rumeidah, Hebron, 5 Sep. 2020. Photo: Nadiah Jaber.

Tel Rumeidah, Hebron: Dozens of settlers stone Palestinian family, injuring two members, and surround their house for hours

On Saturday afternoon, 5 September 2020, at around 5:00 P.M., Palestinian brothers Muhammad (12) and Ahmad (14) Jaber were flying a kite near their home in the Tel Rumeidah neighborhood of Hebron. They let go and the kite landed in a nearby military camp set up on a-Shuhada Street. A soldier was about to hand it back when a child from the nearby settlement came up and broke it, while it was still in the soldier’s hands. The soldier gave the broken kite back to the two brothers and removed the young settler. A few minutes later, a teenager who looked about 15 years old arrived from the direction of the settlement and started throwing stones at the brothers.

Muhammad and Ahmad’s parents, who were watching from their rooftop, shouted at the teen to stop throwing stones and went over to protect their children. At that point, dozens of settlers arrived and started throwing stones at the family, who were forced to run inside, some into their home and others into a neighbor’s house. One of the stones hit Lana Jaber (15) in the leg and another hit Zahreyeh a-Natsheh, a neighbor who was sitting outside her home, in the chest. Dozens of soldiers were summoned to the area and distanced the settlers, who nevertheless stayed in the vicinity until around 10:00 P.M.  

At that point, an Israel Police patrol car arrived. The officers took statements from the Jaber family and advised them to go to the police station in Kiryat Arba to file a complaint. A Red Crescent ambulance took the two injured women to a hospital in Hebron, where they were examined, treated and discharged.

In her testimony, Ayala Jaber (41), a married mother of six, related:

My husband, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Jaber, and I have lived in this area for ten years and suffer attacks by settlers all the time. They increase on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays. We have six children between the ages of 8 and 17, and the settlers often attack them when they pass through a-Shuhada Street on their way to school or to buy groceries. We’re also harassed by soldiers at the checkpoints, especially at the Beit Hadassah Checkpoint (a-Shuhada). It has a locked gate that blocks passage to our house and the soldiers only let people through after they check their names on a list.   

On Saturday, my husband and I were on our roof while our sons, Ahmad and Muhammad, were playing with a kite in the back yard. The kite flew into the military camp opposite our house, on a-Shuhada Street. The kids called out to one of the soldiers and asked him to hand them the kite back. He was about to hand it over when a settler kid who looked  about 10 years old broke it. The soldier removed the kid and gave the broken kite back to my sons.

At that point, another kid from the settlement who looked about 15 came up and started throwing stones at my boys. My husband started yelling at him and we both rushed out to the street. Dozens of settlers between the ages of 10 and 25 started attacking us with stones. Then about 40 soldiers showed up, apparently called there by the first soldier, and started to drive the settlers away.

We ran to escape the stones, and on the way, one of them hit my daughter Lana in the leg. She was in pain and could barely walk. We made it into the yard, but even though the soldiers tried to make the settlers leave, they kept throwing stones at our homes and at other houses in the neighborhood.  

Our neighbor Um Haitham was sitting outside her home and was hit by a stone. They also stoned another neighbor’s house .The settlers stayed on the street until around 10:00 P.M., when  a police car with four officers drove up. One of the officers spoke Arabic. They took our statements and told us to go file a complaint at the station.

About a half hour later, a Red Crescent ambulance came for Lana and our neighbor, and I rode with them to Muhammed ‘Ali al-Muhtaseb Hospital. They were examined and treated, and we left there at around 11:00 P.M. When we got home, we saw that the settlers had already left but several soldiers were still next to our house.

Shattered windshield in the Hamayel family's car after settler attack near the Eli intersection, 30 Sep. 2020. Photo by Iyad Hadad
Shattered windshield in the Hamayel family's car after settler attack near the Eli intersection, 30 Sep. 2020. Photo by Iyad Hadad

Settlers stone Palestinian cars for hours on Route 60 near settlement of Eli

On Thursday evening, 3 September 2020, dozens of settlers blocked a lane on Route 60 near the turnoff to the settlement of Eli. They threw stones at passing Palestinian cars and tried to block their way. Some of the stones hit passengers or the cars.

According to testimonies given by B’Tselem, soldiers were present in the area and came to the spot at least twice, yet did nothing to protect the passengers or stop the settlers from throwing stones. In at least one case, the Israel Police was notified but did not arrive.

This is no exception. It is part of routine, daily conduct by Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank that has been going on for many years. Israel’s policy enables these acts of violence towards Palestinians, even when they result in predictable injury to life and limb, as well as damage to property. In this case, too, although the Israeli authorities knew that settlers were throwing stones at Palestinians on a major highway, they chose not to intervene.

The attacks went on for several hours.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 6 September 2020, ‘Abir Snobar (Hamayel) described the attack on the family’s car:

On Thursday night, 3 September 2020, at around 8:30 P.M., we were on the way home from my parents in the village of Yatma. As we neared the turnoff to the settlement of Eli, I saw two cars with Israeli license plates parked in the right lane, which we were driving in. We kept going until we got close to them. At first, I thought it was a car accident.

My husband Saleh and I were sitting in the backseat. I was on the left side and he was on the right. My father-in-law, Musa, who was driving, slowed down. As we got closer, we understood that the road was being intentionally blocked by about 40 settlers spread out on both sides of the road. Some of them were wearing masks and black clothes. They were holding signs, but I don’t know what they were protesting about.

We were scared. My mother-in-law said to her husband, “Get out, go around them. Don’t stop, they’ll kill us!” As soon as my father-in-law started driving around the two cars blocking the traffic, our car was hit by a hail of stones. They hit us on all four sides. We panicked.

I’m nine months pregnant and I was terrified. I tried to duck down and hide as much as I could, but it was hard with my big belly. Within seconds, a stone came through the right window and hit me in the head. It was big, the size of an orange, and landed next to me. I screamed, “My head! My head!” My husband saw I was bleeding badly. He took his shirt off and wrapped it around my head.

They kept on throwing stones at us for about 30 meters, until we got through the stretch of road where the settlers were standing, and then it was over. It looked like every single one of them was holding stones to throw at us. As soon as we got away, my father-in-law phoned friends from the village and asked them to call an ambulance.

I was really shaken, and I think it made my blood pressure drop. I felt cramps in my stomach and was shaking all over. I burst into tears because I was afraid for my baby and started screaming for someone to call an ambulance. My husband tried to calm me down.

A few minutes later, we reached the medical clinic in Turmusaya. We waited for about 20 minutes until the ambulance came and took my husband, my mother-in-law and me to the Mujama Falastin Medical Center, where I was examined, X-rayed and given an ultrasound. There was a gash in my head about five centimeters long and it needed nine stitches.

Ever since, I’ve felt really bad. I’m stressed and anxious all the time. I’m really scared of leaving the village. The attack happened just after I came out of self-isolation at home after visiting America with my husband and in-laws. The visit to my parents in Yatma was our first outing. We wanted to see them after two years of being away and missing them a lot. The settlers’ brutal attack destroyed our peace of mind and deprived us of our most basic right: to move around freely and travel safely.

August 2020

The torched car of the ‘Assayreh family, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 28 Aug. 2020. Photo: courtesy of village council
The torched car of the ‘Assayreh family, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, 28 Aug. 2020. Photo: courtesy of village council

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers torch car and spray hate-graffiti on Palestinian home

On Friday night, 28 August 2020, at around 2:30 A.M., settlers torched the ‘Assayreh family’s car, which was parked near their home in the southern neighborhood of the village. Lama’ Assayreh (21) awoke to the sound of an explosion and woke her parents, Wael and Suhair (both 47). Lama’s sisters, Lana (14) and Lin (5), were also woken by the commotion outside. The family put out the fire and discovered that settlers had also sprayed their wall with a slogan: “Jewish blood is not cheap.”

Wael ’Assayreh notified the village council of the incident and at midday, Israeli military officers, DCO personnel and police officers arrived at the house. The latter took ‘Assayreh’s statement and photographed the torched car, which he had bought only two months earlier.

In a testimony she gave on 30 August 2020, Lama ‘Assayreh described what happened to her family that night:  

I was woken by noises outside my bedroom window, but went back to sleep. A few seconds later, I heard an explosion. I jumped out of bed, looked out, and saw my father’s car burning. I rushed to my parents’ room and woke them up. Then I went outside without even thinking, to put the fire out before the gas tank exploded and caused a disaster.

My sisters, Lana and Lin, woke up and we all helped my dad bring water from the container in the yard to put out the fire. Then, we noticed graffiti in Hebrew on our fence. The whole thing terrified me: I thought about what would’ve happened if the settlers had attacked us while we were inside the house. Our home is far from the rest of the village houses.  

I couldn’t sleep that night or the night after. I keep remembering the flames reflected on the ceiling of my room on the night of the fire. I can’t forget that sight or the noises I heard outside. It was a horrible night. My little sister Lin asked if they’re going to burn down our house. She’s become very nervous since it happened.

We don’t feel safe in our own home and are thinking about building a wall around us, so that no one can reach us. I asked my dad to install security cameras so we can see what’s going on around the house.

Cut down olive trees in Khirbet a-Tawamin, 22 Aug. 2020. Photo: Nasser Nawaj’ah, B’Tselem
Cut down olive trees in Khirbet a-Tawamin, 22 Aug. 2020. Photo: Nasser Nawaj’ah, B’Tselem

Khirbet a-Tawamin, South Hebron Hills: Settlers cut down 300 olive trees and destroy irrigation system

Barakat Mor (60), a father of 11, is a farmer from the Palestinian community of Khirbet a-Tawamin in the South Hebron Hills. On Saturday, 22 August 2020, he arrived at his plot, which lies southeast of the settlement of Susiya. He discovered that settlers had cut down 300 fruit-yielding olive trees with a chainsaw, destroyed part of an irrigation system connected to a well and torn down a shade sail he had put up for resting.

Mor called the Israel Police. About 15 minutes later, officers arrived, took a statement from him and asked him to file a complaint at the police station in Kiryat Arba. Mor followed their advice, but as of 6 June 2020 has not heard any update about an investigation.

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah
‘Asirah al-Qibliyah

‘Asirah al-Qibliyah, Nablus District: Settlers escorted by soldiers attack village homes twice in one day

On Saturday, 15 August 2020, settlers attacked homes belonging to the ‘Omari family in two separate incidents. At around 4:00 P.M., two settlers drew near the home of Rafiq and Anis ‘Omari, threw stones at it for several minutes and left, heading towards the settlement of Yitzhar. At around 6:00 P.M., about 15 settlers arrived and started throwing stones at another of the family’s homes. Several soldiers who were escorting them fired tear gas canisters and hurled stun grenades at the residents who came out to defend their homes. Even after the settlers had left, the soldiers continued firing and only left the area at around 8:00 P.M.

In a testimony she gave on 16 August 2020, Maysaa ‘Omari described the attack on her home:

Yesterday, around 4:00 P.M., I was on the roof with my husband and sons when I saw two settlers standing a few meters away from the house my sons Rafiq and Anis live in. The settlers threw stones at the house and then ran towards the settlement. Around two hours later, about 15 settlers came from the direction of Yitzhar with three or four soldiers. The settlers threw stones at our house and the soldiers fired tear gas and threw stun grenades at us and at other residents who came out to defend the houses. Several tear gas canisters landed on our roof and in our yard. I didn’t know what to do. Rafiq, his wife and their three little boys, who are three, four and five, were at our house and so was Anis’s wife, who’s nine months pregnant. I looked for a safe room, as far as possible from the smell of gas, and took onions, water and yeast with me. I turned on the fan and closed the windows. The soldiers kept firing tear gas at us even after the settlers left for the settlement.

Things only calmed down after 8:00 P.M., when it got dark and the soldiers left. We couldn’t sleep all night for fear the settlers and soldiers would come back. The settlers have vandalized our cars in the past, and we feared they’d do something similar again. My young children and my little nephews, including 3-year-old Ra’d, keep asking me if they’ll come back and use tear gas against us.

Whenever we try to forget about the bad things that happened to us, the situation repeats itself and gets worse every time.

Torched bulldozer in the quarry of ‘Urif, 13 Aug. 2020. Photo: Muhammad Sayel, B’Tselem volunteer
Torched bulldozer in the quarry of ‘Urif, 13 Aug. 2020. Photo: Muhammad Sayel, B’Tselem volunteer

‘Urif and Yasuf, Nablus District: Settlers torch bulldozers, spray hate-graffiti and slash tires of five cars

On Thursday, 13 August 2020, shortly after midnight, residents of ‘Urif discovered that settlers had torched a bulldozer parked at a quarry near the village. When they went to put out the fire, they noticed graffiti sprayed on a boulder: “Demolition will lead to destruction.”

At 5:00 A.M., residents of the eastern neighborhood of Yasuf, which lies south of ‘Urif, discovered that settlers had punctured the tires of five cars. They had also sprayed the walls of the nearby village council building and kindergarten with two inscriptions: “Israel lives (Am Yisrael Chai)” and “Go to the enemy.” 

Hate graffiti on building wall in Yasuf, 13 Aug. 2020. Photo: Muhammad Sayel, B’Tselem volunteer

The village of Yasuf and the adjacent village of Iskaka are surrounded by settlements: Tapuach (about 800 meters to the north-east), Rehelim (about a kilometer and a half to the south-east), Nofei Nehemia (about a kilometer to the west) and Ariel (about two kilometers to the east).

The night before, dozens of settlers had attacked Border Police forces evacuating the Shevach Haaretz outpost near Yitzhar.


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