as you may be aware, an Israeli settler was killed on 30 April 2013 at a settler bus stop at Zatar junction (Tapuach junction) in the Salfit district of the Occupied West Bank. For the last three days, settlers have been carrying out a pogrom against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, rampaging through villages, attacking Palestinian school buses, burning Palestinian fields and mosques. The Israeli military has done little to prevent these attacks and has often stood by and allowed the Israeli settler attacks to happen.
The bus stop and the junction where the settler was killed is well known to myself and my colleagues from The International Women's Peace Service (IWPS), as it approximately 15 minutes from our village of Dier Istiya and is located at the junction of the main roads which lead to both Ramallah and Nablus.
For the last four days, IWPS has been in the thick of events and monitoring the settler attacks and providing an international presence in the villages who have come under the worst settler attacks. I have included below a comprehensive report from IWPS on the Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians, as well as a report from the International Solidarity Movement who are also monitoring the settler attacks.
For more information on IWPS, click here.
IWPS is also currently accepting applications for volunteers to work with them in 2013-2014. Information on how you can apply can also be found on the website.
in solidarity, Kim
Human Rights Summary: militant illegal settlement gangs of armed settlers accompanied by Israeli occupation army attacked villages Burin, Asira and Urif.
Date of incidents: 30-4-13 Place: Burin, Asira, Urif
Witnesses: Communities of Burin, Asira, Urif, IWPS, ISM,
Description of Incidents: Following a killing yesterday Jewish settler from the militant illegal Ytzhar settlement gangs of armed settlers accompanied by Israeli occupation army repeatedly attacked villages Burin, Asira and Urif.
At 8AM IWPS was notified Zatara junction was closed. The entrance to Yasuf was closed; no cars were allowed to enter or leave and no settlers were seen coming in. Burin reported 50 settlers attacked the town and set fires on the land, it took two hours to reach the town because Zatara, Huwarra and the road to Awarta were closed by Israeli Military. IWPS attempted to walk through Huwarra and were denied but were able to reach our destination through a back road. By this time the settlers were no longer present though the Israeli army stayed in Burin for most of the day.
Attacks began in the village of ‘Urif. 50 settlers came into the town and threw stones through the window of the boy’s high school. Three students were injured by broken glass before the the army came with five trucks and 30 soldiers. At 11:15 the school was showered with tear gas. One student was hit in the head by a tear gas canister and most of the students were all taken to the hospital. The school closed and standoff continued between the settlers/army and the residents of ‘Urif. The settlers lit at least five fires around the school and the army prevented anyone from putting out the fires. The army shot tear gas and sound bombs for the next three hours and pepper spraying several residents. 20 people from ‘Urif were hospitalized from the gas. Both the sound bombs and tear gas used was seemingly a new more intense variety. Later in the afternoon, settlers threw Molotov cocktails at heavy machinery in ‘Urif and continued to set fires to the land.
At 12:30 attacks began in ‘Asira al-Qibliyah the settlers “burned the mountain.” As we arrived in ‘Asira, the air was thick with smoke and we could see one fire still burning in the fields closest to the settlement, though the settlers had already left and the soldiers had retreated to the nearby fields. A team of two people stayed on a roof to observe, while another team of two accompanied journalists around the area to show them the damage. During the ‘tour’, the team observed many fires on the hillside close to Huwwara. The team also drove to the road near Awarta that was being used as an alternative route in order to bypass the closed Huwarra checkpoint. When we arrived, we saw hundreds of cars lined up at the intersection being held by 30 soldiers. Locals reported that the road had been closed for an hour and a half for cars and that people were only permitted to pass on foot. At this point, there were very few options for Palestinians to travel to their homes or to work and the most direct route from Nablus to Ramallah was completely impossible.
On the way back to ‘Urif 40 settlers had entered ‘Asira al-Qibliyah and were attacking the houses with stones. As we returned, we observed approximately 15 new fires set by the Yitzhar settlers. We ran into the fields, where many young men had gathered.
Palestinian fire fighters were present, trying desperately to put out the dry, burning fields. Nearly 25 settlers were at the top of the mountain and approximately 75 soldiers and Border Police were positioned throughout the fields. As the settlers moved toward Madama, the soldiers and Border police began to push, assaulting Palestinians and ordering them back to their houses. This situation was very tense and it seemed at any time the soldiers would attack fully and start arresting people. Several times during skirmishes, soldiers cocked their guns and pointed them directly in the faces of Palestinians including boys as young as 10 years old. These altercations lasted approximately 45 minutes before the community noticed the settlers coming down the hill on the other side of the town.
Many people ran through the fields to attempt to protect the houses and people there. When we reached the opposite hill, there were nearly 20 settlers throwing large stones, some with slingshots. At the same time, soldiers shot many tear gas canisters, the majority of which were fired at head height and from an extremely close distance, in violation of Army regulations which require tear gas to be fired at an arc. The IWPS and ISM stood with the Palestinians for an hour.
After being questioned about why the soldiers were not removing the settlers from Asira’s land the soldiers stated “trying, but can’t do anything.” A request was made to call the police, as Israeli settlers are subject to Israeli civil law and he shouted that they were “trying! But the police aren’t here yet.” The settlers retreated to the settlement and the soldiers and Border Police violently pushed many Palestinians back toward ‘Asira, the Palestinians refusing to leave until they had succeeded in driving the settlers out. One person was taken to the hospital after being shot in the hand with a tear gas canister.
At 18h30, there was a demonstration of nearly 600 settlers at Zatara junction. At 22:00 the army shot flares around the school in Burin and 20 police cars were observed driving into Yitzhar. The deceased settler‘s funeral has taken place and there is fear the settlers will focus on violent retaliation.
Report written by: Ashley
Report edited by: Alex
Date of report: 30-4-13
The International Women’s Peace Service, Deir Istiya, Salfit, Palestine.
Villages of Urif, Burin and Asira violently attacked by settlers1st May 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus, Occupied Palestine
By Team Nablus
Yesterday Israeli settlers from the Illegal settlement of Yizhar set fire to the fields of Asira al Qibliya, Burin and Urif as well as attacking the school and many homes in the villages, all while the Israeli Military and Border Police provided protection for them.
The attacks were provoked by the stabbing of a settler from Yitzhar settlement this morning who died on the scene at Tappuah Junction near Nablus. This was the first Israeli to die in the West Bank since 2011. 9 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the beginning of this year and serious attacks by settlers regularly occur without punishment for the perpetrators. At around the same time as the settler was killed this morning, a man in Gaza was killed by a targeted Israeli air strike whilst he rode his motorcycle.
At 11.15am 50 settlers from Yitzhar, named by the UN as one of the most violent settlements in the West Bank, attacked the boys high school in Urif whilst lessons were in progress. Standing outside the school the settlers threw rocks into the school breaking windows. Two students were injured by the flying glass when it hit their head, another student was injured when a rock hit his foot. Around 100 students then fled the school by jumping over the outer walls whilst the other 100 students remained inside too scared to leave. They were then trapped in the school as the settlers continued to throw rocks at the school and into the car park and at cars when anyone attempted to leave.
The settlers simultaneously lit at least ten fires on the agricultural land surrounding the school. Within ten minutes of the attack the army arrived and began shooting tear gas into the school grounds and at locals who had arrived to protect the school. One student was hit in the head by a tear gas canister and taken to hospital for medical attention.
The fighting then continued on the land above the school where the fifty settlers continued to throw rocks at locals and Palestinians responded by throwing rocks in return. Around fifty army and border police stood between and around the two groups firing tear gas and sound bombs at the Urif locals. The army did not fire tear gas or sound bombs at the settlers. Settlers continued to throw rocks at locals and at international activists whilst the army tried to push the locals back, at times using pepper spray to incapacitate a number of people. Some scuffles between Urif locals and army broke out but no arrests were made.
The clashes continued until around 1pm when the settlers finally began to return to Yitzhar and locals were pushed back down into the village by the army using tear gas and sound bombs. A drone plane was spotted flying over the village at this time. The army continued to fire tear gas into the village for the next hour after the fighting had stopped. At least one local was incapacitated by gas inhalation and required medical attention. Around 3pm settlers approached the village from the other side and threw Molotov cocktails at machinery and lit fires on land near olive trees until they were driven back by locals arriving on the scene.
In the neighbouring village of Asira settlers set fire to 14 fields which destroyed large areas of land. 4 Israeli military jeeps entered the village and shot tear gas at the residents as they tried to protect their land. At the Tappuah junction school busses containing Palestinian children were stoned heavily by settlers. Around fifty settlers also attacked Burin during their rampage, attacking the village and setting fire to large areas of agricultural land.
The villages of Burin, Asira and Urif which surround the illegal settlement of Yitzhar face daily violence from its Zionist settlers. Palestinians are regularly injured, schools are frequently attacked, agricultural land it often set alight and residential homes are often damaged. The Israeli army also frequently raid the villages, often in the middle of the night, to search houses and make wanton arrests, often of children. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention collective punishment is a war crime.