Following the kidnapping and burning of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir in July 2014, another gruesome settler attack took place in July 2015 when the Dawabsha family home in Duma, Nablus, was set on fire, killing an infant and his parents. His four-year-old brother remains in hospital.
Since the beginning of 2015, at least 127 Israeli settler attacks were carried out against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Most of these incidents occurred in Hebron. These incidents include throwing stones and opening fire at Palestinians, other physical attacks, and the taking over of Palestinian property and land. The Israeli government consistently fails to hold accountable settlers who carry out such attacks and instead grants them impunity. In some instances, Israeli officers are present during an attack and either do nothing to prevent it or even take part.
On Saturday 5 September at approximately 4:00 pm, Ayman Rohi Fakhouri and his friend Sari Abu Hammad, both 23, were walking on Al-Shuhada Street in Hebron when they were stopped at the Israeli military checkpoint there. The soldier asked them for their IDs and to wait aside. In the meantime, the soldier randomly started to verbally assault Ayman, calling him "filth, donkey, not a human". Approximately 20 minutes later, the soldier gave Sari back his ID and asked him to leave. Ayman, however, was seated on a plastic chair facing the wall opposite the military cabin while the soldier continued to verbally abuse him.
Meanwhile, five young Israeli settlers were present near the cabin. The soldier was speaking to the settlers in Hebrew, but Ayman did not understand. About five minutes later, the soldier pulled Ayman from the chair and ordered him to stand on the side of the cabin where the settlers were. Once near the cabin, the settlers started shouting at Ayman. The settlers left the premises, and came back minutes later.
Two of them had wrapped shirts on their faces and were carrying a broom stick and pepper spray. Another unmasked settler was carrying a knife. The soldier shouted at Ayman ordering him to take off his clothes which he did not do. The soldier then held Ayman as four settlers attacked and beat him. In response, Ayman tried to push the settlers away and attempted to escape. As he was escaping, one of the settlers used pepper spray as seen in the footage captured. He was able to enter a nearby house and lost consciousness. Ayman later woke up in the Hebron Governmental Hospital where he remained for a few hours. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 10982/2015)
Settlements obstruct Palestinians’ right to self-determination and infringe upon countless other human rights. As settlements and the number of settlers continue to grow in Occupied Territory, so too does the threat to the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians. Under international law, Israel, as an Occupying Power, is obliged to ensure the protection of the occupied civilian population under its rule. However, as seen by the reality on the ground, Israel is failing to do so.
Al-Haq is gravely concerned at the effective impunity granted to settlers. Al-Haq calls on Israel to abide by its duties as the Occupying Power, and ensure prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all incidents of violence. Palestinian civilians that have suffered from attacks by Israeli soldiers or settlers must have access to justice. Al-Haq further calls upon the international community to take effective measures - such as banning settlement products and implementing travel bans on settlers - to protect Palestinians in the OPT and bring an end to the Israeli settlement enterprise.