Israeli settlers from Havat Gilad settlement outpost pelt Palestinian homes in village of Far’ata with stones
After the 9 January 2018 shooting attack in which Palestinians killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach near the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad, settlers threw stones at Palestinian cars travelling on the road leading to the settlement of Yitzhar and the Palestinian village of Qabalan, and along the Huwarah road. The settlers hit several cars, wounding two passengers: a resident of ‘Awarta sustained a fractured arm, and a resident of Qabalan suffered an eye injury which had to be sutured. The military responded by barring Palestinian traffic on a road that is a main traffic artery serving tens of thousands of people. For some three weeks the military prevented Palestinian travel along Route 60 on the section from the Huwarah Junction north to the village of Jit. The ban was lifted only on the morning of 29 January 2018.
On the night of the shooting attack, settlers arrived at the nearby Palestinian villages of Burin, ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah and Jalud, and threw stones at houses. These villages are subject to repeated attack by settlers, so most local residents have long since secured their windows with closely meshed metal bars.
The next day, Wednesday, 10 January 2018, at around 3:30 in the afternoon, after Rabbi Shevach’s funeral, settlers arrived at the eastern outskirts of the village of Far’ata. The settlement outpost of Havat Gilad was built about a kilometer away from the village. The settlers threw stones at homes in the village’s eastern neighborhood of Ras al-Bakri.
Testimonies taken by B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi reveal that scores of settlers participated in the attack and that some of them were masked. In response, several residents climbed onto their rooftops and threw stones back at the settlers, in an attempt to drive them away. After about fifteen minutes, soldiers arrived at the scene and removed the settlers, driving them back toward Havat Gilad. They made no arrests. Several settlers came to the neighborhood the next evening as well, but the residents, who had anticipated this and organized a watch, prevented them from getting near the homes.
This is not the first settler attack on homes in the Ras al-Bakri neighborhood, so some of the residents had already added safety features to their windows. Nevertheless, in the present assault, settlers did manage to break windows which had not been fitted with the metal meshing in seven homes, as well as a solar panel on another rooftop.
The repeated settler attacks undermine local residents’ sense of personal safety even in their own homes, and leave children terribly frightened. Palestinians have learned that they can find themselves subject to settler violence at any time. The fact that these incidents continue to take place over and over again, and that – despite the presence of security forces – no one is arrested and no measures are adopted against anyone has taught the settlers they can attack Palestinians with impunity.
On 11 January 2008, B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi gathered testimonies about the incident from village residents:
Ya’qub a-Tawil, 44, married and father of seven, works as a laborer in Israel:
Yesterday, at around 3:30 P.M., I was at home with my family. Our house is located at the eastern edge of Far’ata, close to the outpost of Havat Gilad. Therefore, like the rest of the residents here, I’m used to settlers attacking our homes from time to time. Yesterday, I came home from work early because I was afraid there’d be an attack like that following what happened the day before, and I thought I should be with the family.
I had just read on Facebook that the settlers decided to have the settler who was killed in the attack the day before buried in the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad. I looked out the window overlooking the settlement outpost and saw scores of settlers coming toward my house. I locked the front door and the windows securely, so no one from the family would get hurt.
Within seconds, the settlers started throwing stones at my house. We live on the first floor and we built the second floor for the children. They hadn’t moved there yet, so it’s still empty. A few years ago, I put a metal mesh screen on the windows on the first floor, to protect them from attacks. The settlers broke seven windows on the second floor, where there are no metal screens to protect the windows. While the settlers were attacking my house and other houses nearby, we shut ourselves in one of the rooms that are away from the windows. My wife and two of my daughters were very frightened.
About fifteen minutes later, military forces arrived and pushed them back to the outpost of Havat Gilad. It was only then that I dared go out of the house. I saw a huge number of stones that had been thrown at my house and my yard. When I went to check the windows on the second floor, the floor in every room was covered in shattered glass from the windows.
Muna a-Tawil, 47, married and mother of three, a homemaker:
Yesterday, at around 3:30 in the afternoon, I was on the second floor of the house with my son, ‘Abd al-Khaleq, 9, and my two daughters, Ruba, 16 ,and Husun, 14, when I heard noise outside. Then I heard someone yelling outside: “Settlers are attacking.” I ran straight to the front door to see what was going on outside. I saw scores of young settlers, some of them masked, coming toward us from the area of the Havat Gilad settlement outpost, which is about a kilometer away from us. They came as close as 50-100 meters away from the house.
When I saw that, I was really scared, and I became anxious, especially because my husband wasn’t with us. I locked the front door and went back to my children to calm them down. Within a few seconds, the settlers started throwing stones at the windows and at the front entrance. The stones made a lot of noise. We were very frightened. It lasted about fifteen minutes, but it felt a lot longer. While the attack was going on, I called my husband, who was working in a chicken coop about 100 meters away from the house. I asked him to stay there until it was over.
After the military came and the settlers cleared off, my husband came home. My children and I were very scared, traumatized. You could see the fear on the children’s faces, even though we’d gotten used to settler attacks over the years. After we built the house, my husband put metal bars and screens on the windows on both floors, to secure them and protect the house. Our house is very nice on the inside, but from the outside it looks like a prison because of the wire mesh.
Anas Yamin, 20, a student who works as a carpenter:
I live with my family of 14 in the eastern neighborhood of Far’ata. Yesterday, at around 3:15 in the afternoon, my little brother, Yusef, 6, and I were on our way home. We were walking on the dirt road that runs between our village and the village of Jit. On our way, we saw a large group of settlers walking from the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad toward our neighborhood. They were a few hundred meters away from us. I was very worried about my little brother. I picked him up and hurried home. I managed to get in before the settlers reached the neighbors’ homes.
I made sure the doors and windows of the house were locked and went up to the roof to see what was going on. There were a lot of settlers who started attacking the house and the neighbors’ houses. They broke one of the windows and the water heater solar panel.
The attack by the settlers, most of whom were masked, lasted about fifteen minutes, until the military came and drove them away to the settlement outpost.
The noise the stones made really frightened my little brothers and sisters. The little ones hid under the stairs inside, which is the safest place in the house during an attack.
After the military came, residents started gathering outside and complaining about the attack to the soldiers, who stayed in the area until sunset. My father, who had been in Nablus during the day, came home in the evening, and we started boarding up the windows with wood planks to secure the house in case the settlers came back.
‘Aziz a-Tawil, 33, married and father of five, an employee of the Palestinians Education and Culture Ministry:
The settlers attacked for about fifteen minutes, until Israeli military forces arrived in three military jeeps. After that, the settlers went back toward the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad which is located about a kilometer away from our houses.
The settlers attacked our houses without us doing anything to them or provoking them in any way. They vandalized residents’ property and scared the children. My wife and children were very scared during the attack. My brother, his wife and their children spent the night at our house because the settlers broke the windows at their house, and the nights are very cold now.