There is a constant threat of violence facing Palestinians who live close to Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. In total, seven incidents of settler violence were documented by Al-Haq’s field researchers in different areas across the West Bank last week. (For more information see Al-Haq’s interactive map on settler violence)
In one incident, three masked settlers launched a late-night arson attack against the Palestinian village of Deir Istiya village (Salfit governorate), burning three cars. Deir Istiya is located 20 kilometers northeast of Salfit and is nearby two settlements; Yakir to the west and Rafafa to the south (see map on the left).
The attack on Deir Istiya was yet another example of the “Price Tag” policy whereby violence against Palestinians or their property are deliberate acts of “revenge” for any action by the Israeli authorities affecting the settler community in the West Bank.
The following is an eyewitness account of the attack.
Ra’ed ‘Izzat Mansour
At around 1:30 am on 11 January, Ra’ed heard a strange noise outside his window. He got up to check what was happening and he could see three men standing next to a red Peugeot car, speaking in Hebrew. The men were dressed in civilian clothes and had white masks on.
When Ra’ed saw one of the men positioning a plastic bottle on the front cover of his uncle’s car, he began shouting in Hebrew for the men to go away.
One of the intruders then lit the plastic bottle before running away with the others. Ra’ed called for help and was able to put out the fire together with his cousins and uncles. However they then noticed that a second fire was burning about 50 meters away. At first they thought it was the village mosque but when they ran closer, they realised that two more cars had been set on fire.
Ra’ed also saw that the intruders had spray painted “Gal Ariyeh Yosef – price tag” in Hebrew on the exterior walls of the mosque. Gal Ariyeh Yosef is an outpost about 15 kilometers away from Deir Istiya, which was recently dismantled.
Israeli Military jeeps, followed by an Israeli police car, arrived at the scene at around 3:00 am. They recorded Ra’ed’s statement, took pictures and collected material evidence. About 30 minutes later, Ra’ed received a call from the Israeli police department asking that he goes to the Ariel police station so as to provide another written testimony. He refused to do so without an official written request (Al-Haq Affidavit No.7017).