On Monday 17, September, six Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Itamar attacked three members of the Benijaber family, who were walking home to the Palestinian village of Aqraba from their olive groves.
Maher Hashem Mostafa Benijaber reported that he, his brother Omar and cousin Hafed were set upon by six men, three of whom were armed with semi-automatic rifles. The attack occurred just before 7 p.m., around 600 metres from their home. The settlers punched and kicked the three men, as well as beat them with rocks and sticks. They also tried to block the path back to the village so Maher and his family could not escape.
Omar managed to escape, calling neighbours for help. Meanwhile, the attack on Maher and Hafed continued. After the arrival of other residents, the Israeli attackers fled the scene. Maher then attempted to walk back to the village, but collapsed, lost consciousness, and had to be carried.
Maher Hashem Mostafa Benijaber in the hospital being treated for injuries after settlers attacked him on his way home.
Maher, Omar and Hafed all required medical treatment at the local clinic in Aqraba for the injuries they sustained during the beating, and Maher was hospitalized overnight in Nablus. All three men suffered injuries to their arms, head, back and legs, consistent with a sustained beating with sticks. When asked what he thought about the latest attack, Maher said, ‘if no-one had come to help, they would have killed me.’
The family contacted the Israeli army via the Palestinian Police and District Coordination Office to report the attack, however the army instead visited Yanoun village, which is also near Itamar settlement. Despite being informed that they had gone to the wrong village, they never attended the scene of the attack in Aqraba or spoke to Maher.
The attack on the Benijaber family is just the latest of many on the village of Aqraba. Four days previously, an elderly shepherd was attacked and forced to flee from his fields back to the village. The attacking settlers then stole some of his sheep. Such attacks on Palestinian villages are commonplace throughout the West Bank, and there is effectively impunity for settlers who carry them out. According to the Human Rights Watch 2012 report, “The Israeli government generally took no action against Israeli settlers who destroyed or damaged mosques, homes, olive trees, cars, and other Palestinian property, or physically assaulted Palestinians.” Illegal settlements such as Itamar continue to be encouraged to expand with the support of Israeli government and occupation forces.
Maher’s room at Rafidia Hospital happens to be across the corridor from Akram Taysir Daoud, who suffered a similar attack in the village of Qusra on 15th September and remains in hospital. Report at: www.palsolidarity.org/2012/09/qusra-man-left-for-dead-after-settler-attack/
- Three injured from tear gas after settlers raid in Qusra (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Monday May 21 is the third day in a row of Israeli military exercises in and around the small Palestinian village of Khirbet Atwayel outside Nablus. These exercises prevent the farmers from working on their lands and force the villagers to sleep under the sound of heavy shelling with the constant presence of soldiers.
Khirbet Atweyel is a village located on the slopes West of the Jordan valley. The 18 families that reside there are almost exclusively farmers and have been victims to the actions of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) for a long time.
Every month, Israeli soldiers arrive, erect tents, and stay for a few days while they receive various kinds of military training. These include the shooting of live rounds, rocket missiles, and other heavy artillery. During these days, the farmers are denied entry to their own lands and can only stand aside and watch while soldiers drive their jeeps and other vehicles over the fields.
Volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), together with members of the municipality of the nearby town of Aqraba, approached the village on Monday, May 21.
“As usual, the soldiers stop their activities when they see internationals in the village. Only ten minutes ago they were shooting rockets on the hills a couple of hundred meters from the town’s houses,” Basem, the mayor of Khirbet Atwayel says.
Later, whilst two ISM activists attempted to approach the field in order to better photograph the military tents, Israeli soldiers opened fire nearby. The activists were forced to turn around and flee the way they came. A rocket was fired on an adjacent hill, creating an ear piercing bang.
“These rockets are the kind of weapons they usually shoot at night. If you come here between 10-11 p.m. you will find they shoot dozens, making it impossible to sleep,” Basem says.
The military training, however, is only one of many aspects of oppression that the people of Khirbet Atwayel suffer on a daily basis. Like many other villages in the Jordan valley, Khirbet Atwayel is in Area C. It is under full Israeli civil and military control. One result is that the villagers are not allowed to have wells or water cisterns. Instead, they are forced to buy water from Aqraba and transport it in tanks to their houses. This makes the basic necessity of water enormously expensive. Irrigation of crops has become impossible and farmers are left to hope that the winter will bring enough rain.
When asked for his thoughts about the future of his village, Basem replied, “the occupiers are obviously trying to get rid of us, but we were born in this village and this land has been within our families for generations. We will never leave and give up what is rightfully ours.”
- Palestinian teen shot during Israeli military training (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- 18 year old shepherd shot by Israeli soldiers in Jordan Valley (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Forces Abduct Palestinians From Across the West Bank, Take Them to Unknown Destinations (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Israeli military armored vehicle rams Palestinian bus injuring at least 19 passengers (alethonews.wordpress.com)