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UN highlights rise in Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians

Experts document 771 incidents of settler violence causing injuries to 133 Palestinians and damaging 9,646 trees , mostly olive trees, and 184 vehicles in 2020.

14 Apr 2021

A Palestinian demonstrator scuffles with an Israeli settler during a protest against settlements [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]
A Palestinian demonstrator scuffles with an Israeli settler during a protest against settlements [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

The United Nations human rights experts have warned that violence, including assaults and property destruction, by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank has increased substantially in recent months.

During the first three months of 2021, more than 210 settler violent incidents were recorded, including one Palestinian death, they said.

Palestinian shot dead by Israeli settlers in West Bank. Video shows police beating. Israeli politician in Jerusalem. Israeli troops kill Palestinian driver, wound his wife

“In 2020, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 771 incidents of settler violence causing injury to 133 Palestinians and damaging 9,646 trees and 184 vehicles mostly in the areas of Hebron, Jerusalem, Nablus and Ramallah,” the experts said in a statement on Wednesday.

The group of experts behind the report included Michael Lynk, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, special rapporteur on adequate housing and right to non-discrimination, and independent expert Claudia Mahler.

They called on the Israeli military and police to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violent acts. Video

According to the experts, the violence has been mainly motivated by ideology and intended to “intimidate and terrorise Palestinians”, and prevent them from accessing their land while pushing others to move.

They primarily target the livelihoods of rural Palestinians, vandalising livestock, agricultural lands, trees and homes,” they said.

In their statement, the experts noted a violent incident in Hebron on March 13, which saw a Palestinian family of parents and 8 children attacked by 10 Israeli settlers, some of whom were armed.

“The injured parents were treated at a medical facility in Hebron, and the children left traumatised,” it said.

Nearly 500,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 200 settlements and dozens of unauthorised outposts scattered across the Palestinian territories.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The Palestinians, who have limited self-rule in the West Bank, say Israel’s settlements deny them a viable state. Most countries view the settlements as illegal under international law. Video

Sheikh Jarrah evictions

The rights experts also highlighted that dozens of Palestinian families living in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah face the threat of eviction from their homes.

“Similarly worrying are reports that over 70 families living in the Karm Al-Ja’buni area of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem are under threat of forced eviction to make place for new settlements,” said the statement.

“7 households have already received eviction orders and asked to vacate their homes by 2 May 2021. Such forced evictions leading to population transfers are strictly prohibited under international law,” it added.

Sheikh Jarrah, located on the slopes of Mount Scopus just north of the Old City, is home to 3,000 Palestinians, all refugees who were ethnically cleansed from their homes in other parts of historical Palestine during the 1948 Nakba.

In October last year, the Israeli magistrate court of Jerusalem ruled to evict 12 of the 24 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and to give their homes to Jewish settlers. The court also ruled that each family must pay 70,000 shekels ($20,000) in fees to cover the settlers’ legal expenses!

According to Grassroots Jerusalem, an NGO that is a platform for Palestinian community-based mobilisation, there has been an influx of Jewish settlers since 2001. Video

Duty to protect

Invoking the Fourth Geneva Convention, the experts called on Israel to adhere to international law, which requires it to protect the population under occupation.

Calling on the international community to “impose meaningful costs on Israel’s protracted occupation”, the experts also demanded Israel halt its settlement expansion in the West Bank.

“Palestinians must be protected from settler violence and the perpetrators must be held to account for their actions.”

Note: Since its creation by the colonial powers, Israel has been flaunting all UN resolutions and engaging in mass violence and indignities heaped on the Palestinians to flee and immigrate.

Israeli Settlers Beat a 78-year-old and Came Back for 3 days to Attack His Family

A weekend of settler violence in the land of caves

Gideon Levy and Alex Levac.  08.01. 2021

GIDEON LEVY in a weekend of settler violence in the land of caves:

“We Palestinians are defenseless. We are surrounded by criminal settlers and there is no one to protect and safeguard us. The time has come for international organizations to protect us here.

This is a deliberate policy of the government, to shut its eyes and approve these attacks on us, in order to expel us from the land and then to expropriate it and transfer it to the settlers.

It’s also very convenient for the army to use these criminals for its purposes.”

(This saying should have been more fitting for any “normal Israeli” who loathe the aggravated conditions of the far-right parties. Actually, Israelis are no longer living a normal life according to the UN human rights standards. A colonial implant that retrograded to a State of ultimate apartheid policies, mass transfer of Palestinians, blowing of houses, and detaining youth with no legal charges…and constantly defying the world community with the political support of the successive US administrations...)

An almost biblical figure emerges from a cave carved into the rock. An old man, clad in a black robe, a white keffiyeh wrapped around his bearded, deeply wrinkled face, his pants held up with a rope, his feet in flip-flops, climbs slowly from the cave.

Meet Khalil Haraini, a farmer of 78 who was born here on this land and will likely die on it.

Khalil Haraini, who was wounded by settlers last month during one of several recent violent attacks on him and his family, on land that they own.

He lives in the cave with two of his sons, and together they work the adjacent family plot, 20 dunams (five acres) of wheat fields and barley. The brown soil has been plowed in furrows and is well tended; now a green carpet sprouts from it.

Only a dirt trail leads here, to Wadi Rahim, on the outskirts of the town of Yatta, over the hills from the Palestinian Khirbet Sussia and ancient Sussia and settler Sussia.

Two large black tents serving as sheep pens, and a residential cave for the farmer and his sons amid a primeval landscape of hills that surround their fields. But behind this pastoral scene lurks terror, the terror of the settlement of Susya, and even worse, the terror of the wild outpost of Mitzpe Yair.

More than two years ago, Michal Peleg, a writer and activist from the organization Ta’ayush- Arab-Jewish Partnership, wrote about a violent assault by residents of Mitzpeh Yair on her and her friends:

“Was the pogrom enough for you, one of the guys shouted. Wearing their pure white Shabbat shirts, tallitot, kippot, shavisim [prayer shawls, yarmulkes, women’s head scarves], they twisted my hand and snatched the camera. One of them pushed up against me with his tallit in my face, to beat me with purification. And then the women arrived, cursing.

One of the women kicked me in the rear with all her might: ‘Die, whore.’

Others arrived, wearing masks. On the run, rejoicing. Now it’s become a rabble and the rabble wants an oneg Shabbat [Sabbath celebration]” (“Mitzpeh Yair: A Pogrom for Shabbat,” Ynet; Aug. 27, 2018).

That’s also what Haraini, the elderly farmer, and his family underwent three weeks ago as they worked their fields, which they are trying to cultivate in spite of the terror of the settlers, in spite of the harsh terrain, and despite the lack of water and electricity – consequences of Israel’s draconian prohibitions, in this land of caves in the South Hebron Hills.

Last Friday, in the hamlet of Khirbet al-Rakiz, a few minutes drive away, a young man named Harun Abu Aram was critically wounded when an Israel Defense Forces soldier shot him in the neck at close range, because he tried to resist the impoundment of his generator.

The Haraini family in Yatta. Their field is behind them.

In a lot empty of everything but skittering chickens and plastic chairs placed in the January sun, opposite one of the last houses in Yatta, members of the Haraini family were waiting when we arrived this week: Mohammed, 54, an imam in the Yatta mosque, and son of the farmer from the cave; and cousins Aamar Haraini, a Palestinian policeman of 38, and Mahmoud Haraini, 17, a construction worker who was the one most badly wounded by the settlers.

The settlers of Susya and Mitzpeh Yair frequently graze their sheep on the family’s land and attack them from atop all-terrain vehicles and horses. But the weekend of December 18 was especially rough.

At about 10 A.M. that Friday, Khalil noticed a settler they know, named Yosef, from Mitzpeh Yair, grazing his sheep on the family’s land.

Hoping to stop him, Khalil asked, “Why are you shepherding on my land?” Immediately, about 10 settlers rushed out from behind a hill, armed with pistols, rifles, clubs, axes and iron chains.

One of them assaulted the elderly farmer, knocking him to the ground. Khalil was stupefied.

Settlers then beat him with their clubs. Khalil’s two sons quickly alerted Nasser Nawaj’ah, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, himself a resident of the local caves, who immediately summoned the police and the army.

The farmers and their families are most afraid of Yaakov from Susya, the most threatening of the settlers who attack them.

They’re also afraid of Moshe from Mitzpeh Yair. They have photographs of all of them. In this case, the Israeli security forces showed up about an hour later.

The settler who knocked down Khalil had fled, and the security forces lost no time expelling the Palestinians from their own land. The other settlers also left. Khalil was taken to the hospital in Yatta, where he was treated and discharged. “He is a strong person,” his son Mohammed, the imam, says.

The next day, Saturday, the family returned to work the land. This time there were about a dozen men, some of them from Yatta, who came to help Khalil and to protect him.

After about an hour of work in the field, they suddenly noticed a drone overhead that was apparently photographing them.

Of late the settlers are using drones a great deal as a means of surveilling the Palestinians, with the funding and encouragement of the government.

Later on in our visit, we also saw a kippa-clad Israeli operating a drone over other fields and buildings in the area.

A man plows a field in the Yatta area, in the West Bank.

About 10 minutes after the farmers spotted the drone that day, settlers from Mitzpeh Yair and Susya arrived at the field. Shabbat in the morning, a beautiful day, as the song goes.

This time they were even more violent.

This time they also carried stones, in addition to the usual clubs, axes and chains. They threw the stones at the farmers and also used them to beat some of the Palestinians.

One of the settlers approached 17-year-old Mahmoud and threw a stone at his face from a distance of about a meter. Mahmoud’s left ear was injured and he bled. Two stones struck the leg and forehead of Aamar, the Palestinian Authority police officer, who was not in uniform or on duty.

Afterward the settlers advanced toward the cave and the stone structure that stands at the edge of the field; from there they fired a few shots with an M-16 rifle at the farmers’ legs, to frighten them even more.

A settler attacked Mohammed from behind, kicking him in the back. Pistol-packing Yaakov was their commander and gave the orders, the eyewitnesses say.

The farmers tried to protect themselves and threw stones at the settlers to drive them off their land. The army and the police were summoned again and tried to break up the melee, but without detaining any of the assailants.

Some of the settlers left, but Yaakov stayed behind, with the soldiers. He threatened the farmers about returning to work the land, which he claimed belongs to him. He then brought an all-terrain vehicle to the site and began plowing over the already-plowed soil, as one of his cohorts filmed him. He did so, the farmers tell us now, to prove his ownership of the land – though it does not belong to him.

Yaakov also sometimes shows up riding a horse or on an ATV, making a show as lord of the field, and then leave.

Khalil Haraini

Mahmoud’s left ear was treated at the Yatta hospital. He’s still under medical follow-up, and he says that his hearing hasn’t yet fully returned.

The next day, Sunday, six or seven people were back in the field, among them Khalil.

Again the settlers first sent one of their shepherds to graze his flock on their plowed land, and when the farmers tried to shoo him off with shouts, the settler summoned his friends.

About 20 of them charged out from the hills, this time masked, carrying their firearms and other non-lethal weapons, as always. Again, there was an exchange of stones and curses and again the army was called in.

Again it ended with the two adversarial sides being dispersed, as if it were just a quarrel between shepherds – as though there’s symmetry between assaulter and assaulted, between the plunderer and his victim. This time, at least, the incident ended without anyone being wounded.

Are you afraid, we ask. “Of course I’m afraid,” Mohammed the imam says. “They are armed and are supported by the army and they are very violent. I am proud of my father for going to the land, but I am also very worried about him and about my two brothers who live with him.”

Is young Mahmoud afraid? He replies that he is not, but his cousin Aamar immediately corrects him: “Why do you say you are not afraid? We are all afraid. One day they will kill one of us.” Zoharan – criminals – is their term for the settlers.

The town of Yatta, in the West Bank.

Another cousin, Thaar Haraini, who’s in his late 30s and is visiting from his home in East Jerusalem, adds, “We are defenseless. We are surrounded by criminal settlers and there is no one to protect and safeguard us. The time has come for international organizations to protect us here.

This is a deliberate policy of the government, to shut its eyes and approve these attacks on us, in order to expel us from the land and then to expropriate it and transfer it to the settlers. It’s also very convenient for the army to use these criminals for its purposes.”

Afterward, we suggested that we accompany the group to their land, but they were very hesitant. They heard that “hilltop youth” from the unauthorized outposts have been on the rampage for the past two weeks across the West Bank, and they were apprehensive.

It took quite some time before they mustered the courage to go with us to the land on which they were born – they, their parents and their parents’ parents.

“For 78 years, he’s lived here,” says Khalil’s son Mohammed, “and suddenly young settlers come whose parents are from America and Russia, and want him to leave his land.”

It was quiet in the fields of Wadi Rahim, next to the cave of Khalil Haraini, when we got there. It was a perfectly pastoral scene, as though none of this had happened.

Operation Brother’s Keeper? Noura Erakat responds

Jadaliyya Co-Editor Noura Erakat Responds to Israeli General Consul Regarding Operation Brother’s Keeper On Al Jazeera America

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[Screenshot from video below.][Screenshot from video below.]

On June 12, 2014, three Israeli settler boys were kidnapped on a hike near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc(First settlement after the preemptive war of 1967)

Although a police recording indicated that one of the boys had been immediately killed, Israel set off a national search for the boys, entitled “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” in which it killed 6 Palestinians, arrested 545 others, and violently invaded 1,300 Palestinian sites.

On 30 June 2014, the bodies of the three boys were found in Halhul, just north of Hebron.

The discovery catalyzed a nation-wide hysteria for revenge among Israeli society as well as a military campaign of collective punishment against Palestinian society including a bombing campaign against the Gaza Strip and demolition of the home of the accused kidnapper.

Israel insists that Hamas  is responsible for the kidnapping notwithstanding repeated denial of responsibility by the Palestinian political party.

In addition to the military campaign, vigilantes have also violently attacked Palestinian children resulting in the death of a twelve-year old girl in Hebron crushed by a car  and the death of a fifteen-year old boy whose body was found in West Jerusalem.

In this interview on Al Jazeera America, Jadaliyya co-editor Noura Erakat responds to the Israeli General-Consul on these recent events. Noura emphasizes the immorality of the collective punishment campaign, the lack of evidence incriminating Hamas, and on the root causes of the conflict.

[Noura’s apperance starts at 7:20.] 



Kill a Palestinian “every hour,” says new Israeli Facebook page

Is that within free expression?


The Facebook page’s main profile picture and background image show Palestinians as targets through the crosshairs of a gun.

More than 16,000 Israelis have joinedFacebook page that calls for the murder of a Palestinian every hour until three missing Israeli settler teens are located.

The page is titled “Until the boys are back, every hour we shoot a terrorist.”

(If it is a matter of killing terrorists, why the Zionists don’t head to Da3esh Land in north Iraq?)

The page was launched as the Israeli army continued violent raids, curfews and closures across the occupied West Bank and shot dead Ahmad Sabarin, a Palestinian youth.

According to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency:

The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on its website that within hours of its creation, a Facebook page calling for the hourly assassination of Palestinian “terrorists” had reached 10,000 likes.

The Facebook page called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “take responsibility instead of holding [Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud] Abbas responsible” for the alleged kidnapping of three Israeli teens, Maariv reported.

The three missing settlers are Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrah (both 16) and Gilad Shaer (19), who reportedly went missing while hitchhiking between Jewish-only settlements in the Hebron area of the southern occupied West Bank late Thursday evening.

Since that time, Israeli political figures, including Netanyahu, have rushed to blame both the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and Hamas, who recently signed a reconciliation agreement to end a seven-year division.

Israeli officials claim that Palestinian political organization Hamas kidnapped the missing boys, but a Hamas spokesperson denied involvement and dismissed the accusation as “stupid.”

Israel has yet to produce evidence supporting its claims, though it has arrested dozens of Hamas officials and activists including the speaker and several elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council in ongoing raids across the West Bank.

Dozens of photos and comments by both the page administrator and commenters offer a glimpse into the radical and violent anti-Palestinian climate in Israel. The dehumanization of Palestinians, including children, is common among Israelis on social media, especially Facebook users in Israel.

Resonating with reality

One of the photographs posted by the adminsitrator reads, “Return to Jewish war ethics: kill or be killed.” At the bottom, the photo adds: “Kill a terrorist every hour.”


Top: “Return to Jewish war ethics: kill or be killed.” Bottom: “Kill a terrorist every hour.”

At the time of writing, the post had received more than six thousand Facebook likes and had more than one hundred comments, most of them supportive.

One commenter, Hariel Ben Michael, called for Israel to destroy entire Palestinian communities “every hour” until the missing boys “are released.”

His comments resonate with reality. Since its destruction of more than 500 Palestinian villages and towns during the 1948 Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, Israel has continued to demolish Palestinian homes and raze entire communities, particularly in places like the Jordan Valley region of the West Bank.


In Hebrew: “A friend suggested this idea: each hour that passes and the boys (may god protect them) are not released, we destroy a neighborhood in Hebron, and after we’re done with Hebron, we move to Ramallah then to Gaza, etc.”

“Get cancer”

An English-language commenter, Jordan Lerer, says he hopes Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip “get cancer” and “die with agony.” The picture he comments on shows many Palestinians between crosshairs of a gun and says, “kidnapped? kidnap!” — ostensibly calling for the kidnapping of Palestinians.



An English-language commenter hopes Palestinians in Gaza “get cancer” at a time when the Israeli military bombards the besieged coastal strip.

Lerner also comments that he has “no mercy” regarding the Israeli military’s treatment of the besieged Gaza Strip.

Israel’s military has already bombed several areas in the Gaza Strip since the three boys went missing.


On Saturday evening, 7-year-old Ali al-Awour died as a result of injuries sustained by an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday night. According to statistics from Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-Palestine), 1,405 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel since 2000.


Relatives carry the body of Ali al-Awour during his funeral in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, 14 June 2014. (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

After the Israeli settlers went missing on Thursday night, Israel’s occupation forces intensified their crackdown across the West Bank and continued bombing the Gaza Strip.

In the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, the Israeli military last night reportedly injured two children and their father when soldiers “bombed open the door of [their] house,”according to Ma’an News Agency. That raid came only a day after Israel “detained eighty Palestinians across the West Bank,” as noted by another Ma’an article.

Israel’s crackdown has focused on the southern part of the West Bank, mostly in and around Hebron. As of Sunday, Hebron residents were banned from leaving the West Bank,Maan reported.


A Palestinian kisses the face of Ahmad Sabarin, 20, who medics said was killed by the Israeli army in a raid on al-Jalazone refugee camp near Ramallah, 16 June 2014. (Issam Rimawi / APA images)

Overnight on Sunday, the military also raided the Jalazone refugee camp near the central West Bank city of Ramallah and shot and killed 20-year-old Ahmad Sabarin.

Michael Ben Ari, a former member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, also called for the assassination of Palestinians while speaking to Hebrew-language media. Israel ought to “kill terrorists in public hangings,” Ben Ari said.

“Sit in the dark”

Another alarming Facebook page, created yesterday, is named “If our boys are sitting in the dark, Palestinians will also sit in the dark.”

With more than three thousand members, the page calls for Israel to cut off all electricity to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Due to Israel’s suffocating restrictions, both regions are dependent on Israel for electricity.


This photograph calls for Israel to cut off electricity and water to Palestinians and to further limit their ability to move freely.

One photograph posted on the page (above) called for Israel to inflict “collective punishment” on Palestinians by ending their electricty and water supplies and increasing restrictions on movement.

petition was also launched on Sunday demanding that Israel cut off Palestinians’ access to electricity. As of Monday morning, it had already received more than one thousand signatures.

Due to Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza, approximately 1.7 million residents of the coastal enclave have suffered deteriorating conditions over the last few years as a result of the lack of gas and electricity. 


This is not the first time Israelis have used social media to call for violence against Palestinians, including children. As Israel’s political establishment grows even more rightwing, much of the general population has embraced the increasingly anti-Palestinian climate.

As Rania Khalek recently reported for The Electronic Intifada, a Facebook page supporting an Israeli soldier who was filmed pointing his gun at a Palestinian child’s face received more than 129,000 likes.

In February 2013, Ali Abunimah exposed an Israeli soldier’s violent pictures on the photo-sharing website Instragram. One of his pictures showed a Palestinian child as a target between the crosshairs of a rifle.

Since then, The Electronic Intifada has time and again brought to light the dehumanization of Palestinians and pervasive racism displayed by Israelis on social media outlets.

To read more about this, see The Electronic Intifada’s past coverage:

With thanks to Hanan Darawsha for her help with translation and research. 




April 2023

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