Soldier kills Husam 'Asayrah (19) during violent settler raid on village of 'Asirah al-Qibliyah
On Friday, 14 May 2021, at around 2:00 P.M., 20 to 30 settlers and about 10 soldiers came to the southeastern part of the village of ‘Asirah al-Qibiliyah in Nablus District, arriving from the direction of the outpost of Shalhevet Yah. Some of the settlers were masked and several were armed. Some of them used slingshots to throw stones at village homes and at residents who came out to defend them, and some of the residents threw stones at the settlers. Several settlers also fired shots in the air. The soldiers remained close to the settlers throughout and did nothing to stop them from attacking the residents. Instead, they fired shots in the air and hurled tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the residents, to disperse them rather than the settlers.
Stones thrown by the settlers shattered a window in one home and the windshield of a car, and hit the body of another car. Also, some village land caught fire – started by residents to keep the settlers at bay as well as by the stun grenades the soldiers hurled.
At around 6:00 P.M., as seen in video footage captured by a B’Tselem volunteer, the settlers and soldiers moved several hundred meters away to the outpost of Shalhevet Yah, which was built on a hilltop overlooking the village homes. Some residents remained at the foot of the hill, by a house belonging to ‘Abd al-Bassett Ahmad, and a few of them continued throwing stones at the settlers and soldiers.
At that point, one of the soldiers fired several shots at the residents, hitting two who were not throwing stones at the time and were not endangering the soldiers or the settlers. Husam 'Asayrah (19) was hit in the chest while standing by the fence of a village home about 200 meters from the soldiers. Another resident (25) was hit in the thigh while running away from the soldiers. The two men were driven away in private cars and detained at ‘Awarta Checkpoint for 10 minutes before being transferred to an ambulance that evacuated them to a hospital in Nablus. There, ‘Asayrah underwent surgery and resuscitation attempts, but was pronounced dead a short while later.
In yet another occurrence that has become common throughout the West Bank, and particularly in the area of ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah and the neighboring villages, armed settlers – including, according to testimonies collected by B’Tselem, the security guard of the Yitzhar settlement– assaulted residents of ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah and their homes along with soldiers, also armed. The incident resulted in the killing of one resident and the injury of another. Collaboration of this kind has become a regular feature of life in the West Bank, as part of Israel’s unofficial policy to drive Palestinians out and take over their land.
Hafez Saleh (56), head of the ‘Asirah al-Qibliyah council, went to his sister’s home in the southeastern part of the village after she notified him that the settlers had arrived. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 20 May 2021, he related:
When I got to my sister’s house, I saw about 30 settlers and least eight soldiers. The settlers were throwing stones at houses, including my sister’s. Some also fired shots in the air. The soldiers did nothing to stop them. I went up to the roof with my sister and her family to defend their house. The settlers came closer to the houses and several residents went out to keep them from entering the village. The settlers threw stones at my sister’s house and at her son Anis’ house next door. The stones shattered the windshield of her husband’s car and the window of a neighbor’s house. They also hit the side of the neighbor’s car.
Young guys from the village threw stones, but because the settlers were already higher up, the stones didn’t reach them. The soldiers fired some tear gas canisters and hurled stun grenades. Later on, they withdrew along with the settlers. I thought it was over.
My sister made coffee and I offered it to the young guys outside. I saw a soldier lying on the ground, pointing his rifle at guys who were gathered by my sister’s fence. I called out to them that the soldier was aiming his weapon at them and would kill them. Then I heard several shots, one after the other. I saw one guy running with his hand to his chest and heard some of them shouting that someone was injured. Another guy had an injury to his thigh. The guys carried the one who had been hit in the chest, Husam ‘Asayrah, to the closest car and I took the other one in my car. We drove fast. Because Huwarah Checkpoint and the way through the Madama bridge was closed, the only way to go was through ‘Awarta Checkpoint. When we got there, we found it closed. An ambulance arrived from the direction of Nablus. I explained to the soldiers that we had injured people with us and that we had to get to hospital. After about 10 minutes, they opened up the checkpoint and we transferred them to the ambulance.
Village resident Muhammad Ahmad (28) was on his rooftop with his mother and fiancée when he saw the settlers and soldiers approaching. The women went back inside the house while Ahmad stayed on the roof. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 20 May 2021, he described what happened next:
I saw about eight soldiers with the settlers. The settlers were in groups, each with one armed settler. They came close to the houses. One of them was the settlement security coordinator, whom we all recognize. Some of the settlers used slingshots to throw stones at our house and at the houses of my uncle, ‘Abd al-Bassett, and his son, Anis. They also attacked other homes, but mostly the ones belonging to our family. They shattered a window in our home while my fiancée was standing right next to it, but luckily no one was hurt. The stones they threw also hit my father’s car and broke the windshield of my uncle’s car.
Guys from the village also threw stones at the settlers in order to drive them away from the houses, but the soldiers fired live shots and tear gas canisters and hurled stun grenades to make the guys leave. They didn’t try to make the settlers leave. The stun grenades they hurled set the fields on fire, and it spread to ‘Abdallah Saleh’s plot, which has about 10 olive and almond trees and sage bushes. We couldn’t get there because we were afraid of the settlers and the soldiers.
At around 6:00 P.M., the settlers and the soldiers moved away and stopped on a hilltop a few hundred meters away from the houses. I thought the incident was over. Most of the guys stayed next to our house and my uncle’s house, and mostly watched what was going on. Every now and then, they whistled and moved forward.
Suddenly, one of the soldiers, who was lying on his stomach in a sniping position, fired several shots in a row. I thought he was trying to scare the guys. It didn’t even cross my mind that he was trying to kill someone, but he hit two people: Husam ‘Asayrah in the chest, and the other one in the thigh.