Settler attacks continued over the summer with great frequency. The attacks were directed, often premeditated, and more violent than even the Palestinians expected. A substantial amount of land was destroyed and/or taken for use by Israeli settlements.
Israeli soldiers often witness settler attacks and do nothing to halt them (Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler)
Many West Bank residents were terrorised, abused, and denied basic rights by settlers as Israeli military officials stood by and watched as trees were damaged, crops burned, property vandalized, threats made, rocks catapulted, explosives thrown, and pointed physical assaults with knives and guns initiated by settlers against Palestinians. Even as attacks become more serious and organized acts of violence on the part of Israeli settlers darker, disturbing and more frequent, the Israeli authorities refused to respond or deal with the incidents in positive manner. This report, like previous settler violence reports by the Alternative Information Center, continues to highlight the heavy reality that Palestinians have no one to turn to for physical protection and legal recourse.
Hebron and South of West Bank
At noon on May 5, five settlers from the Beit Hadassa outpost in downtown Hebron attacked Palestinian homes near the outpost. The settlers stoned the houses, which belong to the Al-Sharabati and Al-Salymah families. When the residents tried to defend themselves, Israeli soldiers stopped and arrested several members of the Jamila Hasan Al-Shalaldahf family, whose house was also targeted by the settlers.
On May 8, settlers from Matsivi settlement, south east of Yatta in the south hills of Hebron, fenced and annexed approximately thirty dunams of land for use by the settlement. The land belongs to families from the Om el-Araish village.
On May 14,Waleed Mohammed Salman Sabarnah, a 30 year old farmer from Beit Ummar, was beaten by settlers from Karmei Tzur while working his land near the settlement, located south of Beit Ummar. In Sabarnah’s own words, “while I was working on my land armed settlers came and asked me to get off the land and leave the area. The settler claimed that this land belonged to the settlement. When I refused to leave, and told him that this is my land, the settler came towards me and began to beat me over the back with stones and also with the back of his gun. Israeli soldiers arrived once I began to defend myself against the settlers, beating me on the face and then breaking the windshield of my car.” Sabarnah was taken to Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron for treatment.
On May 14, settlers from the Ma’on settlement in the south hills of Hebron cut and uprooted some 70 olive trees belonging to farmers Mohammed Raba’ee and FadilRaba’ee from the Tuwani village. The event happened in the morning and was recorded by the Israeli army.
On May 14, Dr. Muheeb Abu Loha from the Jaba’ village to the north of Hebron, was stoned by settlers while driving his car home after working at the Al-Arroub Agricultural College. Settlers stoned his car while he was passing by the main road near the settlement of Kfar Etzion.
On May 21,a group for settlers from Susiya in the south hills of Hebron District burned wheat crops in the fields near the village of Tuwani The crops belong toYousef Abu Sabha, who reported that 5 dunams worth of his crops were destroyed during the evening.
On May 21, dozens of settlers from Bat Ayin settlement to the north of Beit Ummar, cut and uprooted around 40 grape vines located near the settlement. The vines belong to Hammad Abed El-Hameed Sulaibi, a grape farmer in the area. The Local Committees against Settlements and the Separation Wall said that the settlers also left papers with racist words including “death to Arabs,” “price tag,” and “peace from Bat Ayin.”
The same day settlers from Karmei Tzur to the south of Beit Ummar dozens of olive trees and grape vines on land belonging to local farmers Mohammed Mirshed Awad and Issa Ali Sulaibi. The targeted area is called Wadi el-Wahhadeen and is near the settlement. Local sources report that the area has been under threat of confiscation by Israel for years and that settlers have increased aggression over time as a tactic to force farmers to leave, making the land “available” for annexation and expansion of the settlement.
On June 2, settlers from Ma’on, in the southeast Hebron district, came during the morning hours and uprooted twenty olive trees in the land east of their settlement. The trees belonged to the Jabareen family from Yatta. Israeli soldiers came and recorded the event.
On June 4, a group of settlers burned wheat fields in an area called She’b el- Butm, east of Yatta. Rateb Jebour, Director of the local Committee, stated that the action is a good example of the tactics settlers use to confiscate land from Palestinian farmers for settlement projects. The same day, settlers attacked farmers in plain sight of Israeli soldiers, who did nothing to stop them. The field belongs to local farmer Khaled Mousa Al-Najjar, who was shot by the settlers in 2002, an attack which required him to spend three months in the hospital.
On June 4, the settlers from Kiryat Arba, to the east of Hebron, stoned several Palestinians houses on the Wadi el-Hussain side of Hebron, near Kiryat Arba. The settlers also distributed papers which threatened Palestinians, asserting that Palestinian residents should leave the area or risk being attacked. Physical clashes between the settlers and Palestinian residents resulted. Israeli soldiers who witnessed the event did nothing to stop the settlers, but they arrested and interrogated some of thePalestinians for approximately two hours.
On June 11, a group of settlers from Ma’on cut 30 olive trees in the village of Litwani. According to the local Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, this is not the first time settlers have been aggressive toward the Litwani village, its trees and its residents. On this occasion the trees belonged to Jebril Ahmad Rab’e and Fadi lraba’e.
On June 11, a settler from the Ramot Yishai outpost in the downtown of Hebron hit a nine year old child, Ma’mon Al-Saheb, with his car. Eyewitnesses say that Israeli soldiers later stopped the settler, who was driving the car.The child was taken to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where injuries to his head were treated.
On June 17, residents of the Simia village, Na’eem Salama Al-Najjar, 34, and Anwar Khaleel Abed Rabbo, 27, were stoned by armed settlers in the south hills of Hebron. The two were hit in the head, hands, and chests. Both sustained injuries and were taken to Abo Al-Hasan Hospital in Yatta. The attackers were settlers from Susiya.
On July 9, five young settlers from El’azar , located just to the south of the Bethlehem district, stoned Beit Ummar resident Ibraheem Khaleel Sabarna, 35, while he was driving his car. Sabarnah reported that “when I reached the main junction near the settlement of Ale’azer, five young settlers stopped me and threw stones on my car, causing injury to my hand and damage to the windows and windshield.The event happened in the sight of the Israeli police, who did nothing to stop the settlers.
On July 21, settlers from the settlements south of Bethlehem brought five mobile homes (caravans) and placed them on land located in Om Ahmeidin, to the south of the Al-Khader village in the Bethlehem district. According to Ahmad Salah, Chairperson of the Land Defense Committee in the village, around 20 settlers came and occupied the land and houses, even attaching them to water lines and electricity. The newly occupied land belonged to local resident Salah Mousa and the Shaheen family, who are from the nearby village of Artas. The confiscated land was home to 60 dunams of grape vines and olive trees.
At noon on July 23, dozens of settlers from Kfar Etzion, and other settlements to the south of Bethlehem threw stones at Palestinians cars on bypass road 60. The Israeli army came and stopped them. According to eyewitnesses, three cars were damaged in the attack.
On August 5, six Palestinians from Bethlehem were injured when settlers from Kfar Etzion threw a fire-bomb at their car. The family, including driver Bassam Mahmoud Ghayyada, 48, Iyman Mohammed MustafaGhayyada, 36, his wife Jamila Abed AlhaiGhayyada, 30, and their children,Iman, 4, Mohaamed, 3, and An’am, 2, were driving in the evening on the main road near the settlement. Most of the passengers suffered serious burns and injuries. The vehicle was completely destroyed.. An Israeli ambulance came and transported the entire family to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem after the Palestinian Red Crescent Society initially treated them on site. The settlers responsible for the attack fled the scene and returned to their settlement, and to date have not been apprehended.
Nablus and North of West Bank
On May 9, dozens of settlers from Tapuah in the southern Nablus district, burned around 100 dunams of olive trees in the fields near the Jamma’een village. Many of the settlers were armed. The trees and land that were targeted belong to local residents, Jamma’een and Fathi Hamdan.
On the same day, settlers from Yitzhar in the southern Nablus district uprooted 17 olive trees belonging to Shadi Al-Zabin, a resident of the Boreen village south of Nablus.
On May 15, settlers from Rotem in the northern Jordan Valley, leveled and damaged dozens of agricultural fields belonging to families from the Al-Farisiyya village. The land is now being used for settler roads and the expansion of the Rotem settlement.
On May 17, settlers from Yitzhar burned car belonging to Zain Mustafa Allan, a resident of the AinYabous village south of Nablus. The car was burned in the evening while it was parked not far from Allan’s home. Residents attempted to confront the settlers after discovering the fire, but were not successful as the settlers fled and returned to Yitzhar.
On the afternoon of May 26, dozens of settlers from Yitzhar burned 30 dunams of wheat fields belonging to families from the Madama village. The areas targeted, called Al-Khallah and Al-Qu’da, are located to the south of the village.
On June 15, thousands of settlers from the West Bank settlements and Israel entered the Kufr Hars village in the Salfeet District. The settlers came under military protection to visit what they define as holy places for Jews in the village. The army closed all entrances to the village for three hours. During their march, the settlers expressed racist slogans against Arabs and Muslims. They also attacked some shops in the village.
Early in the morning on June 19, settlers burned the mosque in the Jaba’ village, east of Ramallah. They wrote racist words directed at Muslims and Arabs on the walls of the mosque, including “price tag,” “death to Arabs” and “the war has begun.” The Israeli army came and opened an investigation.
On June 20 and for the three days following, settlers began leveling around 60 dunams of land belonging to families from Jalood, Joresh and Qaryout, three villages in the southern Nablus district. The settlers, who were under Israeli military protection, brought 45 mobile houses to the area for the purpose of expanding three small outposts there. Most of the confiscated and leveled land was planted with olive trees.
On June 21, around 1500 settlers from throughout the West Bank entered Joseph’s Tomb, near the city of Nablus, for prayer. The Tomb is under Palestinian Authority control according to the Oslo agreements. Despite the agreements, settlers claim it is holy place for Jews and continue to come and pray. Typically the Israeli army closes and blocks the nearby Balata and Askar refugee camps for three hours when this happens.
On July 9, Jawdat Bani Odeh, 43, from the Yanoon village to the south of Nablus, was stabbed and knifed by settlers. He was injured when settlers attacked him and other residents in the village. Bani Jabber was herding his goats near the village when a group of four settlers attacked him, also killing five of his goats. The Israeli soldier called to the scene opened fire on the Palestinian residents, who were gathering to defend their homes and protect Bani Odeh. Odeh was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries to his leg.
On the evening of July 17, settlers arrested four Palestinians from Tulkarem. The settlers, said to be driving a jeep, stopped the Palestinians’ car on the junction of the Homish settlement, threatening passengers with weapons and forcing them to accompany them to the settlement. One victim, No’man Jalali, 32, reported that the settlers attacked and beat him and the other three passengers on the road, in addition to confiscating their mobile phones. After two hours the Tulkarem residents were released.
On July 17, settlers from Yakir, in the northwest Salfeet district, released the settlement’s sewage onto the surrounding Palestinian agricultural land. Nazmi Salman, Mayor of the Dair Estiya area, confirmed that “sewage was opened on the agricultural land in the Qana Valley and will damage the area’s trees and contaminate the water.” He added that this is not the first time the settlers acted with such aggression, despite complaints made to the Israeli authorities.
On July 23, settlers from Bqa’oti’ in the northern Jordan Valley fenced 50 dunams of land belonging to families from the Wadi el-Maleh village. According to Wadi el-Maleh resident Arewf Daraghma, the settlers also planted and cultivated the land. The Israeli army did nothing to stop the settlers.
At midnight on August 4, eight Palestinians from the northern West Bank were injured when settlers from Shilo stoned their cars. The event happened during Ramadan while the Palestinians were driving home in a bus after praying in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. Settlers gathered on the main road close to the settlement to throw stones at the bus. The injured were taken to Rafiday Hospital in Nablus City. Their injuries were described as minor.