Throughout the past week, Al-Haq documented several incidents of settler violence across the West Bank. These included two cases of physical assault during which Israeli settlers attacked two Palestinian children and shot a Palestinian man with a stun gun. Numerous olive trees were also uprooted in the past week. In addition, a Palestinian poultry farm was set alight in Qusra village, which is regularly subjected to attacks from settlers in nearby settlements.
Muhammad Jibril Hammad – Ma’in village – Hebron governorate
On 12 March 2013, Muhammad Jibril Hammad, 12, and his cousin, Sami ‘Adel Hamamda, 14, were walking to the east of Ma’in, where they both reside. The two boys were collecting herbs and at 2:45 pm they had almost reached the Israeli outpost of ‘Avigayil’. When they were 20 metres from the outpost, a settler, who was carrying a camera, approached the boys. The man grabbed Sami and began slapping him in the face and striking him on his shoulders while yelling in Hebrew. The settler then also chased and caught Muhammad by the side of the main road to the east of the ‘Avigayil’ outpost. The settler beat Muhammad on the face and abdomen, as well as hitting him on the head with his camera.
Two Palestinian men, Ahmad and Ibrahim Abu-‘Ali, both 35 years old, were driving along the road and witnessed the incident. They immediately stopped their car and separated Muhammad and the settler. The settler sat on the bonnet of the car until four Israeli military vehicles and two Israeli police cars arrived at the scene of the incident and the policemen took a statement from the settler. Shortly afterwards, at around 3:20 pm, Sami’s father, ‘Adel Muhammad Hamamda, and Muhammad’s brother, ‘Umar, arrived at the scene. Despite the fact that they explained to the policemen that the settler had attacked Muhammad and Sami, the policemen refused to even take a statement from the Palestinian boys. At approximately 5:15 pm, the Israeli soldiers arrested Ahmad and Ibrahim Abu ‘Ali on the grounds that they had assaulted the settler and transferred them to the Israeli police station in ‘Kyrat Arba’ settlement, in Hebron. The two men were released at 8:00 pm after their families had paid bail amounting to 1,000 NIS (about USD 270) for each man. Neither Sami nor Muhammad reported serious injuries.
The following day at 7:30 am, Sami and Muhammad, along with Muhammad’s brother ‘Umar, arrived at the Israeli police station in ‘Kiryat Arba’ to present a complaint against the settler. Five hours later, at 12:30 pm, an investigator began questioning Muhammad and Sami and accused them of entering ‘Avigayil’ outpost. The two children denied the allegation and were prevented from leaving the police station until 5:30 pm, when ‘Umar had to pledge that the two children would not enter the outpost again even if they did not. In addition, Muhammad and Sami were denied their right to file a complaint against the settler. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8450/2013)
Muhammad Hashem Bani Jaber – ‘Aqraba village – Nablus governorate
On 15 March at approximately 5 am, Muhammad Hashem Bani Jaber, 39, a resident of ‘Aqraba village, was on his way to work when a man grabbed him, placed a hand around his mouth and tried to restrain him. When Muhammad pushed the stranger to the ground, three men, who had been hiding behind some olive trees, joined the attacker. The four men, clearly identifiable as settlers by their Jewish Orthodox hairstyles and clothing, kicked and punched Muhammad in his legs and back for several minutes. During the attack, one of the settlers placed a stun gun on Muhammad’s chest and activated it, causing Muhammad to become short of breath and unable to speak or cry out for help. Muhammad eventually managed to escape from the settlers and fled to ‘Aqraba village.
Muhammad arrived at the home of Raddad Fayeq Naser and asked to be taken to the hospital immediately because he was having difficulty standing and was suffering from shortness of breath. He was hospitalised for several hours at the cardiology unit of the National Hospital in Nablus, where he received treatment for his increased heartbeat. The following day, the ‘Aqraba village doctor applied a plaster cast to Muhammad’s left leg and examined the bruises on the rest of the body. Muhammad believes that the settlers who had attacked him came from ‘Itamar’ settlement, which is approximately two kilometres to the south of the village. Settlers from ‘Itamar’ launch frequent attacks against ‘Aqraba’s residents and their property. (Al-Haq Affidavit No.8449/2013)
At the time of writing, Muhammad was still suffering from pain in his chest and his doctor has suggested that he go to Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus to have his heart examined further and to have an x-ray of his left leg.
During the same week, several other villages in the Nablus governorate were attacked by Israeli settlers. On 12 March, 211 olive saplings belonging to Muhammad Ahmad Miqbel, Qaryut village, were uprooted by settlers. On 17 March, a poultry farm belonging to Jamal Abu-Rida was set on fire in Qusra village. Other incidents monitored by Al-Haq over the past week include damage to 30 olive trees in Mikhmas village, Ramallah governorate, and the injuring of Karam Feisal Manasra who was hit by stones thrown by settlers while he was driving his car near the ‘Beit El’ settlement.
Al-Haq expresses its grave concern at the incidents of settler violence carried out almost on a daily basis against Palestinian civilians and their property. Al-Haq reiterates that Israel, as the Occupying Power, is under the obligation to safeguard the well-being and safety of the occupied population. Accordingly, Israel must take concrete and effective measures to prevent settler attacks and, when those incidents take place, the Israeli authorities must investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of settler violence. Al-Haq strongly condemns the total impunity granted by Israel to the settlers that continue to engage in this campaign of violence and intimidation against the Palestinian civilian population.