During the past week, Al-Haq documented nine cases of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. These attacks featured physical assault and stone-throwing as well as arson attacks and vandalism against Palestinian property. Al-Haq is gravely concerned that the phenomenon of settler violence is in a perpetual state of escalation, both in terms of the number of incidents and the levels of violence used. This is clearly demonstrated by the recent Molotov cocktail attack that left an entire Palestinian family, including two young children, suffering from severe burns.
Daraghma Family – Liban al-Sharkiya:
The Daraghma family home, which is located in the Palestinian village of Liban al-Sharkyia in the Nablus governorate, is surrounded by three Israeli settlements, Ma’ale Libona, Eli and Shilo. In the last three months, Israeli settlers stole the family’s working tools, vandalised the furniture of their house and price-tagged their property. Despite the fact that the Israeli army was present during several of these incidents, there have been no arrests among settlers. After one incident, Khaled Samih Daraghma (45 years old) and his eldest son Jalal (17 years old) were arrested while defending their home. They were detained for a period of two months and were released only after paying a fine of 20,000 NIS (about $5000 USD).
On 28 August, at around 8:30am, when Khaled, his wife Taghreed Taha Daraghma (31 years old), and Jalal were in front of their house, they saw eight yellow-plated cars approaching the area and parking to the west of the house. More than 40 settlers wearing Jewish Orthodox clothing stepped out of the cars and surrounded the house. The settlers, two of whom were holding guns, started throwing stones at the family and attacked Khaled and Jalal with wooden and iron batons. Ten settlers then tried to break into a room, where Taghreed had hidden with her younger sons. Once the settlers were inside the room, they hit Taghreed’s son Mo’men (15 years old) and knocked Nour al-Din (11 years old) to the ground. When Taghreed tried to stop the settlers from assaulting her sons, a settler hit her with his wooden baton on her arm, chest and legs.
In the meantime, Khaled and Jalal were trying to stop other settlers from destroying the furniture of the house and to keep them out of the room where Taghreed was with her sons. When the room was empty of settlers, Taghreed closed the door and started calling for help. From the window of the room, she saw her husband and son running to the east with a group of settlers chasing them. About 20 minutes later, Khaled and Jalal returned to the house and told Taghreed that the Israeli settlers had left the area. When Taghreed opened the door, she saw four Israeli soldiers accompanied by one settler talking to her husband. Several minutes later, multiple Israeli military jeeps, including police and intelligence cars arrived and the Israeli military locked the members of the family in one of the rooms of the house. The Israeli units departed 15 minutes later after arresting and handcuffing Khaled and Jalal. In addition to the physical assault on the family, the Israeli settlers broke the windows of the family’s car and vandalised the furniture of the house.
At the time of writing, Jalal was still in detention in Ofer prison before his hearing on 16 September 2012. Khaled was released on 2 September after paying a fine of 2000 NIS (about $500). (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7671/2012)
Arson attacks in Sa’ir and Doura Al-Kare’
On Tuesday 28 August, at around 2:00am, Muhammad ‘Ayyash Froukh (47 years old), who lives in Sa’ir, Hebron governorate, was woken by noise outside his house. From the window of his bedroom, Muhammad saw about 30 young Israeli settlers accompanied by five Israeli soldiers in front of his cousin’s house. One of the settlers was writing in Hebrew on his cousin’s wall, while others were holding small torches to provide some light. Muhammad then saw settlers pouring liquid onto his cousin’s car before setting it alight. The settlers broke the windows of Mohammad’s car before throwing two bottles inside and setting it alight also. As the settlers were leaving the area, Muhammad saw one of them firing live ammunition into the air.
When Muhammad and his cousin went to extinguish the fires, they discovered that the settlers had set fire to a third car, also belonging to Muhammad’s cousin. Muhammed then learned that the water pipe, to which the hose was connected, had been blocked by the settlers. As a result, the Froukh family had to carry buckets of water from the house in order to extinguish the fire. Muhammad’s car was completely destroyed, while the other two cars were partially damaged. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7674/2012)
On Wednesday 29 August, at around 2:30am, Nour al-Din Abdul Latif Soboh (38 years old), who lives in the Palestinian village of Dura al-Kare’, was woken by the alarm of his own car outside his house. From the window of his bedroom, Nour al-Din saw that his car was on fire. He called his brothers and for 30 minutes they tried, but failed, to extinguish the blaze. One of their neighbours called the Palestinian Civil Defense who came and eventually extinguished the fire. Nour al-Din then discovered that there were Hebrew phrases written on the wall of his house, his brother’s car and his neighbour’s car. Some of the Hebrew writings translated as “Price-tag from Migron settlement”, “Revenge against Arabs” and “Death for enemies”. At 6:30am, the Israeli military arrived at the area, took photos and statements from Nour al-Din and his brothers and left. Two hours later, the Israeli police along with Israeli intelligence officers came to the area and left at 9:00am after examining the site of incident and taking affidavits from the villagers.
The continued increase in incidents of settler violence is intrinsically linked to the fact that the perpetrators of such criminal acts continue to be granted impunity by the Israeli authorities. Until these settlers are held accountable, there is no reason to believe that these acts of violence, which terrorise the Palestinian population, will come to an end.