Since the beginning of the year, Al-Haq has monitored and documented 98 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians across the West Bank. Palestinians most vulnerable to these attacks are those living close to the areas where settlements, which have been established in contravention to international law, are now located. The attacks vary from property damage to physical assault and even attempted murder. This week’s five incidents are notable not for their number but for the level of violence and brutality displayed.
Settlers shoot Palestinian man near Nablus
On 19 May, at around 4:00 pm, land belonging to the village of ‘Asira al-Qibliya south of Nablus city, was invaded by around 150 settlers, four of whom were heavily armed, from Yitzhar settlement. The invasion, which was overseen by some 20 Israeli soldiers, resulted in the burning of crops belonging to the residents of the village. Youths from the village then confronted the settlers. The two groups threw stones at one another and the settlers also fired live ammunition at the Palestinians.
Bassam Nijem ‘Asayra, (49 years old), who witnessed the events following the invasion, reported that one of the armed settlers pointed his gun directly towards him. Bassam’s nephew, Nimer Fathi Nijem (24 years old), ran over and stood in front of him. Nimer was shot by one of the settlers and he fell to the ground. Bassam saw that there were wounds to Nimer’s face and neck.
Bassam was afraid for his nephew’s life and called for help. A few minutes later, the settlers retreated towards Yitzhar while Nimer was carried to a car and transferred to a hospital in Nablus. The clashes continued for another two hours, during which Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets towards Palestinians.
At around 5:30 pm, Bassam went to the hospital to check on his nephew’s condition. The bullet had entered through Nimer’s right cheek and exited by his left ear causing severe damage to his jaw. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7321/2012)
Arson attack near Sousiya
Muhammad ‘Aqel Mur (63 years old) is a Palestinian farmer living in Yatta near Hebron. He owns six dunums of land to the south of Sousiya settlement. On 20 May, at around 6:00 am, as Muhammad and his family were preparing to harvest their crops, he discovered that their fields had been set alight. Two Israeli settlers, identifiable by their religious clothing, were standing close by and ran away as Muhammad approached. The fire had completely destroyed the harvest.
Muhammad then called the Israeli Civil Administration and Israeli police. At 7:30 am, three military jeeps, two police cars and one Civil Administration car arrived at the location to assess the damage and question Muhammad. Following Muhammad’s description, the Israeli police apprehended the two settlers not far from the area. The police asked Muhammad to accompany them to the nearest station in Kiryat Arba’ settlement to further investigate the attack. Muhammad was questioned for about 90 minutes. At 4:00 pm, he left the police station and returned home with documents to prove that he had filed a complaint against the two settlers. Muhammad is not optimistic that they will be held to account as it is very rare that any action is taken against settlers in incidents such as this. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7333/2012)
Arson attack in ‘Aynabous
On 17 May, at 2:00 am, Hamza Zeid ‘Allan (30 years old) was woken by noise outside his home in ‘Aynabous village situated eight kilometers to the south of Nablus. From the window of his bedroom on the third floor of his building he noticed the smell of burning. Hamza rushed outside and saw three settlers identifiable by their religious clothes standing next to his father’s car that was burning. When Hamza called his father and brother, who live on the second floor, the three arsonists ran away towards Yitzhar settlement, which is only 700 meters to the north. Hamza hurried to put out the fire, which was eventually stopped some 20 minutes later.
At 3:00 am, Hamza phoned the Israeli Coordination office at the Israeli military base near Huwwarra to request an investigation into the attack. At 9:00 am, an Israeli police car and three military jeeps arrived to investigate the incident. They asked Hamza and his father to go to Ariel police station to file a complaint against the settlers. An hour later, Hamza and his father were on their way to the police station, where they filed a complaint. At the time of writing, Hamza and his father are still waiting for the results of the investigation. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7322/2012)
Settlers destroy fruit trees of Palestinian farmer
On 17 May, settlers from Bat ‘Ein settlement, located north of Beit ‘Ummar (Hebron Governorate), cut and destroyed 33 fruit trees belonging to the family of 68-year-old Muhammad ‘Abd-al-Hamid al-Sleibi.
The family owns 88 dunums of land 500 meters to the south of the Bat ‘Ein colony and is frequently targeted by settlers. Muhammad’s family has been planting the land and relying on its production as their main source of income since 1959. In one particular incident that took place in April 2012, settlers wrote slogans including “price-tag” and “revenge” after the destruction of olive groves and over 30 vine trees. Muhammad and his lawyer are still waiting for an appointment to meet with the Israeli Civil Administration regarding this incident.
For more information about similar incidents that have taken place throughout the West Bank in recent months see Al-Haq’s Interactive Map on settler violence.