In the past week, Al-Haq monitored and documented seven cases of settler violence across the West Bank. In the villages of Madama and ‘Ourif, south of Nablus, two incidents of settler attacks on Palestinian civilians and property were documented. The incident in Madama is an example of the “Price Tag” policy, which includes attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians or their property that are intended as a form of retaliation for any action that has negatively affected the settler community in the West Bank.
Bashar Nabil Nassar – Madama Village – Nablus
On Wednesday 8 January, at approximately 3:00 am, Bashar, 42, was on his way to work in a restaurant in Madama village. As he reached the centre of the village, he passed by the residence of Wa’el Qit, 31, where he witnessed three masked people pouring liquid from a plastic container onto two Palestinian civilian cars, with a third car parked nearby.
Subsequently, both of the Palestinian cars caught fire. Seconds later, Bashar heard the sound of car doors shutting and a car engine starting and then saw the third car approaching the road where he was standing. Bashar was able to identify the car as a small blue Seat but couldn’t distinguish the license plate number as it was moving too fast. According to Bashar, the car headed towards the northern part of the village leading to Yitzhar Street, a road that Israeli cars often use.
Bashar immediately knocked on Wa’el’s door to wake him up and inform him about the incident. Wa’el and Bashar, along with other neighbours, began throwing water onto the cars in order to put out the fire. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 9303/2014)
Wa’el ‘Abd-al-Rahim Qit – Madama Village – Nablus
On 8 January, at approximately 3:00 am, Wa’el woke up to heavy knocking at his front door. He opened it to find Bashar Nassar standing there, who informed him that his and his neighbour’s cars had been torched. The two cars were parked on a dirt road approximately 50 meters away from Wa’el’s home. Immediately, Wa’el filled a plastic bucket with water in order to extinguish the fire.
At approximately 11:00 am, four Israeli military jeeps, a car belonging to the Israeli liaison office and two Israeli police cars arrived at the scene of the incident. Two Israeli specialists took fingerprints from the torched cars and the police took witness statements from Wa’el and his neighbour. Later, Wa’el and his neighbour submitted complaints to both the Israeli and the Palestinian police. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 9305/2014)
Rami Muhammad Nassar – Madama Village – Nablus
On 8 January, at approximately 2:55 am, Rami, 35, was informed that his car had been torched. As Rami left his house he saw that people from the village had already congregated around the vehicles and were attempting to extinguish the fire. The motor, the electricity circuit, the tires and the front body of both cars were damaged as a result of the fire. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 9304/2014)
According to Wa’el, Bashar and Rami, Hebrew words and the Star of David had been spray-painted on the wall close to where the cars were parked. The words read “revenge for Aish Kodesh” and “peace from Aish Kodesh”. Aish Kodesh is an Israeli settlement located to the south of Nablus.
Nabih Tawfiq Najjar – ‘Ourif Village – Nablus
On 6 January, at 9:15 am, Nabih, 51, the principal of ‘Ourif Secondary School, was in the school administration room when he was informed by some students that six Israeli settlers, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, were heading towards the eastern side of the school.
Fifteen minutes later, four Israeli soldiers broke into the school. Nabih asked the soldiers not to go any further into the school, as there were students sitting their exams. In response, a soldier pointed his gun at Nabih and ordered him not to move. At that moment, Nabih saw four Israeli settlers throwing stones at the school. This continued for about five minutes. The stones fell into the school yard and some of them hit the grate that had been placed over the windows after previous settler attacks as a form of protection. Nabih approached the officer in charge and asked him to stop the settlers from throwing stones at the school. The officer responded in Hebrew, saying that the settlers were “crazy”, and then called to the soldiers accompanying the settlers, asking them to leave the school premises.
After a long dispute between the officer and Nabih, the soldiers left the school and relocated outside the school gate. By this time, the settlers had withdrawn 200 metres away from the school and 16 soldiers were surrounding the school. Nabih asked the soldiers to leave the school gate so that the students could return home safely after their exams were finished but the officer refused. Twenty minutes later, after Nabih had called the Palestinian liaison office, the Israeli soldiers retreated from the school gate.
As the students left the school, clashes erupted between them and the Israeli soldiers in the area, who fired tear gas canisters at the students. These clashes continued until approximately 10:00 am, when the soldiers withdrew 800 metres away from the school.
Al-Haq expresses its grave concern at the settler attacks and the “Price Tag” policy against the Palestinian civilian population across the West Bank. Continuous and widespread incidents of settler violence illustrate Israel’s failure to abide by its obligations under international law to secure the safety and well-being of the occupied Palestinian population. Al-Haq calls on Israel to investigate these attacks and prosecute those responsible.
For more information on the “Price Tag” policy see Al-Haq’s report, entitled “Institutionalised Impunity: Israel’s Failure to Combat Settler Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”