During the past week Al-Haq documented two severe cases of settler violence against Palestinian civilians. In one instance, a group of six settlers beat a Palestinian shepherd with metal rods. In the other incident, a Palestinian man travelling in a shared taxi was hit in the head with stones thrown by settlers. In both cases, the victims lost consciousness as a result of the attacks and required medical treatment.
Najeh Thalgi 'Abdallah Abu Ali – Mikhmas – Ramallah Governorate
On 18 August at 6:30 am, Najeh, a 46-year-old Palestinian shepherd, left his house to graze his sheep on land surrounding his village. He walked in the direction of a water tunnel located approximately two kilometres north of the village, underneath road 60, which connects Ramallah to Nablus. When Najeh and the herd reached the tunnel they passed through it to the other side, where Najeh then recalls spotting six settlers in civilian clothing at a distance of approximately 20 metres. Najeh reports that the settlers had covered their faces.
As soon as he saw the settlers, Najeh quickly moved back towards the tunnel, but they began following and yelling at him in Hebrew, which he does not understand. The settlers caught up with Najeh and began beating him with metal rods. The settlers repeatedly hit Najeh all over his legs, head and the rest of his body. In an attempt to protect himself, Najeh put his hands over his head, but the settlers continued to beat his head to the point that he felt intense pain in his hands, as if his fingers had been broken. The settlers continued to brutally beat the shepherd until he fell to the ground. During the attack, Najeh clearly saw that one of his assailants had long sideburns, a common characteristic of Israeli religious settlers. Before losing consciousness, Najeh shouted repeatedly for help, hoping that other shepherds in the area would hear and come to his assistance.
Residents of the surrounding area, along with a number of nearby shepherds, heard Najeh's calls for help and rushed to assist him. As soon as they arrived at the water tunnel, the settlers ran away. Shortly afterwards, Najeh regained consciousness but was in intense pain. His rescuers quickly transferred him into a car and took him to the Medical Complex in Ramallah. There, Najeh was immediately taken to the emergency room where he received the necessary medical treatment. Najeh was unable to estimate how long he had been unconscious. In addition to beating Najeh, the settlers killed two of his sheep, worth a total of NIS 4,000 (approximately USD 1,120), and a further two were missing from the heard. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8881/2013)
Najeh’s medical report documented that when he arrived at the Medical Complex, he was bleeding profusely from cuts on his head that required 70 stitches. He had also sustained a concussion, suffered from severe bruising all over his body and had one broken finger on his right hand and two broken fingers on his left hand. On 21 August, the shepherd was discharged from the hospital. This morning, he went, together with B’tselem officers, to the Israeli police station Sha’ar Beniamin, in ‘Rami Levi’ settlement, to present a complaint.
Mazen Anwar Mansour – Kufr Qalil – Nablus
On 12 August at approximately 12:30 pm, Mazen, 57, took a shared taxi from Ramallah to Nablus, together with an additional five passengers and a driver. At approximately 1:00 pm, the taxi arrived at the junction close to ‘Shilo’ settlement and proceeded onto the main road, passing by the main entrance to the settlement. At that point, Mazen noticed a group of approximately seven young settlers on top of a hill to the right hand side of the road. The settlers, in civilian clothing and with their faces covered, began to descend towards the road. When they were approximately one metre from the taxi, they began throwing stones at it. The taxi driver, shocked by the attack, stopped the car. Meanwhile some stones broke the window on the front right of the taxi, next to where Mazen was sitting, and injured his face and head.
The other passengers got out of the taxi and ran towards the aggressors, who escaped in the direction of the settlement. At that point, Mazen had already left the vehicle and, after vomiting and feeling dizzy, he fell to the ground and lost consciousness.
About 20 minutes later, an Israeli ambulance arrived and provided first aid assistance to Mazen. Shortly afterwards, a Palestinian ambulance took Mazen to the Rafidiya hospital in Nablus. At approximately 2:00 pm, Mazen was taken to the emergency room at the hospital, where he received treatment to the head due to severe bruising. Mazen was discharged on 13 August at 2:30 pm. (8871/2013)
Half an hour after the incident, an Israeli police car arrived at the location of the incident and began taking pictures. Israeli policemen also questioned the Palestinian taxi driver and took him to the police office in Sha’ar Beniamin, where he gave an affidavit regarding the incident. According to Al-Haq field workers, the Israeli police have not taken any additional steps in order to hold the aggressors accountable.
Over the past month, Al-Haq documented another grave case of settler violence against Khatima al-‘Abed Shrieteh, a 50-year-old Palestinian woman from al-Mazra’a al-Gharbiyya, a Palestinian village west of Ramallah. On 18 July, Khatima walked with her son to a hill close to her village and, while she was collecting some sage, she was attacked by a group of settlers. During the brutal attack she did not scream for help out of fear that her son, who was sitting under a tree nearby, would run towards her and risk being attacked by the settlers. The assailants beat Khatima all over her body until she lost consciousness. For further details on Khatima’s story, watch Al-Haq’s video To Gather a Bundle of Sage.
Al-Haq expresses its grave concern at the latest settler attacks and, in particular, at the level of violence used against Najeh Anwar Mansour and Khatima al-‘Abed Shrieteh. These incidents illustrate how Israel, as the Occupying Power, systematically fails to abide by its obligations to protect the occupied Palestinian population. Al-Haq calls upon Israel to address the climate of impunity enjoyed by settlers who carry out continuous attacks against Palestinians and their property.