On Saturday 2 February, a large group of Palestinian activists established al-Manatir camp, in the vicinity of Bourin, Nablus governorate. Soon afterwards, the Israeli military arrived in the area, followed by a group of settlers from the nearby settlements of ‘Ytzhar’ and ‘Bracha.’ Clashes broke out between the groups when the settlers began throwing stones at the Palestinian youths and the Israeli army fired tear gas into the newly established camp to force the Palestinians to leave the area. A few hours later, settlers from ‘Ytzhar’ targeted the village of Bourin, throwing stones at one home and vandalising 65 olive trees. Officers from the Israeli border police, who witnessed the attacks, did not intervene or protect the Palestinian population or their property.
Al-Manatir - Bourin village – Nablus governorate
Last Saturday, at 10:00 am, hundreds of people, including residents of Bourin and Palestinian activists, gathered in an area called Jabal al-Sabe’, east of Bourin, and erected seven plastic and metallic tents which constituted the new camp al-Manatir. The land, located in Area B, extends for 40 dunums (approximately 40,000 square metres), is owned by some residents of the village and administrated by Maher Isma’il Najjar (55 years old). The area of Jabal al-Sabe’ is contested by the Israeli authorities with a view to expanding the two settlements of ‘Ytzhar’ and ‘Bracha.’ These settlements lie to the south and north-east of Bourin. Settlers from ‘Ytzhar’ and ‘Bracha’ regularly attack the residents of Bourin and their property, without ever being held accountable by the Israeli authorities.
Approximately one hour later, some 50 Israeli soldiers arrived at the site from the eastern side of Bourin, where ‘Bracha’ settlement is located. The soldiers surrounded the area whilst the activists continued to pitch the tents. A few minutes later, some 20 settlers in civilian clothing approached the area. Two of the settlers carried rifles, with another ten or so carrying slingshots and stones.
The settlers, who were behind the soldiers and approximately 20 metres from the newly erected tents, began throwing stones at the Palestinian youths. When the settlers attempted to move closer the soldiers prevented them from doing so. At that point, a confrontation escalated between the Israeli military and Palestinian demonstrators, who started throwing stones at the soldiers. The military responded by firing sound bombs and tear gas directly at the activists. The military also used rubber-coated metal bullets against the youths, some of whom were also attacked with pepper spray or beaten by the soldiers. During the confrontation, the settlers advanced on the demonstrators and continued throwing stones at them. After a couple of hours, the Israeli military arrested eight Palestinians and forced the remaining activists to leave the area. Subsequently, the soldiers confiscated some tents and finally left the area. Other tents were dismantled by settlers and then taken to ‘Bracha.’
At 1:00 pm, a group of approximately 25 settlers from ‘Ytzhar’ entered the village of Bourin. At least one of them was carrying a firearm. The settlers surrounded the home of Hanan Nasser Saufan (54 years old) and attacked it with stones for approximately thirty minutes. The settlers also cut the branches of 65 olive trees planted in the area surrounding the home. During the attack, Hanan was hiding inside her home with her children and despite the fact that an Israeli border police patrol arrived at the scene, it did not intervene or attempt to stop the settlers.
At that point, Zakariya Yasser Najjar (16 years old), and other ten residents of the village, who witnessed the assault, ran towards Hanan’s home. Another confrontation began between the Palestinian youths and the settlers, one of whom shot a live bullet at Zakariya’s right leg from a distance of approximately five metres. Zakariya was promptly transferred by a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance to the Rafidiya Hopsital, in Nablus, where he received five internal and five external stitches on his right thigh. At approximately 6:00 pm the same day, he was released from the hospital. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8336/2013 and Affidavit No. 8339/2013)
Shortly after the beginning of the attack on Hanan’s home, an Israeli military patrol composed of 12 soldiers arrived at Bourin. Clashes between the soldiers and residents began and the military responded by firing numerous tear gas bombs in the direction of the residents’ homes. As a result, several people reported respiratory problems and a one-month-old baby, Iliya’ Bashir Qadous, was urgently transferred to the intensive care unit at Rafidiya hospital. According to her mother, Sana’ Walid Qadous (25 years old), Iliya’ stopped moving and her skin began to turn blue when she was exposed to tear gas in her home. The following day, after being treated for severe tear gas inhalation, Sana’ took her daughter home. (Al-Haq Affidavit 8337/2013)
Five of the eight Palestinians arrested by the Israeli military in al-Manatir were released the following day. The other three demonstrators, Ashraf Abu–Rahmah (31 years old), Diya’ Bani ‘Oda (17 years old) and Wahib Yousef Qadous (38 years old), are still being held in the Megiddo prison. On 6 February, the Israeli Salem military court held a hearing during which the three men were accused of taking part in the demonstration and assaulting Israeli soldiers.
Al-Manatir is the third protest camp established by Palestinian activists this year in protest against Israel’s illegal annexation of Palestinian land. The other two camps, Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun) and Bab al-Karama (Gate of Dignity) had been built respectively in area E1, between Jerusalem and ‘Ma’ale Adumim’ settlement and in Beit Iksa, Jerusalem governorate. All the camps were dismantled by the Israeli military and the demonstrators dispersed with tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets.
Last week, the United Nations (UN) Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) released its report. The FFM condemns the illegal settlement enterprise which is resulting in a ‘creeping annexation that [...] undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.’ The report also highlighted the fact that Israel grants widespread impunity to settlers for acts of systematic violence that are intended to displace Palestinians from their land. Al-Haq welcomes the FFM report and urges the State of Israel to dismantle the illegal settlements in the West bank, including East Jerusalem, and withdraw all settlers from the OPT. In addition, Al-Haq calls on the international community to take concrete measures in order to bring Israel’s breaches of peremptory norms of international law to an end.