Settlers assault family as soldiers look on: Three testimonies

Palestinian boys protest in front of a group of Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against violence by Jewish settlers towards Palestinians, near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron, 25 January 2007. (MaanImages/Mamoun Wazwaz)

With soldiers present, settlers throw stones at grocery store of Dahud Jabber for one hour, Hebron , 27 January 2007

Da’ud Rateb Hussein Jabber, 50, married with ten children, is an owner of a grocery store, and a resident of Hebron. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness’s grocery store on 31 January 2007:

I live with my wife and ten children opposite the road linking Kiryat Arba and the Tomb of the Patriarchs. I have a grocery store, which is close to the house and is situated alongside the road. Sometimes, my boys help me in the store. The store is small, and we barely make enough money to cover our basic needs. I sell on average between 50-100 shekels of goods daily. Business has been bad because of the closure and the prohibition of traveling on the road.

Last Saturday [27 January], following evening prayers, I went home and left my son Shadi, 18, at the store. His cousin, Balal Jabber, 28, was with him. Suddenly, I heard shouts. I thought the shouting came from the store, so I rushed there. Six soldiers and more than forty settler men and women, aged eighteen to twenty-five, were there. I asked them what was going on. One of the settlers said they had lost a jacket and wanted it. I told them, “I don’t sell jackets. This is a grocery store.” Another settler asked me to close the store and go home. I closed the door, left with Shadi and Balal through the back door, and went home.

They swore and shouted, “We want to slaughter Arabs.”

We heard stones hit the door of the grocery store. They [the settlers] threw stones for about an hour. They swore and shouted, “We want to slaughter Arabs.” A neighbor of mine, Tareq, said that they also threw stones at his house. They did all this with Israeli soldiers next to them. We did not file a complaint with anyone. Who could we complain to? We had already complained and never got any results. Another neighbor, Sufian, told me that settlers broke into his house the same night and assaulted his family.

In 1993, I began to build my house. I also built structures for ten shops facing the road. The construction cost me a fortune. My family and partners helped me finance it. We invested more than 150,000 dinars (about NIS 900,000). I was hoping for a better life for me and my family, but nine of the shops are closed. My grocery store remained small. If my financial situation were better, I would leave the area and look for a more pleasant place to live. I offered my house and grocery store for sale, but nobody was interested. Now I just have my dreams. Once I thought they would come true, but not now.

Sufian ‘Abd a-Rahman Abu Hatah, 40, married with nine children, is an unemployed resident of Hebron. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness’s home on 31 January 2007:

I live with my family in an old, two-story, six-room house in the a-Saleymeh neighborhood. My children range in age from three and a half to twenty-one. I used to work as a laborer, but now I am unemployed.

One of the entrances to our house is adjacent to the path leading from Kiryat Arba to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The army opened the path, which is intended for settler use, two years ago. Another entrance to our house is on the other side. We use both entrances.

Last Saturday [27 January], at around 8:00 P.M., I was riding a neighbor’s horse on my way home. I rode along the path I mentioned. I was about 150 meters from my house when I saw a group of more than thirty settler men and women throwing stones at Dahud Jabber’s store, which is adjacent to my house. The settlers were young, from about fifteen to thirty years old. Among them were four girls who always attack people. I know them well. One of them has a dark-brown complexion and is tall. I also saw two army jeeps and about ten soldiers.

The women said that the settlers had knocked on the iron door, entered, and tried to assault the family

Jabber quickly closed his store. I wanted to go home, but one of the soldiers told me to wait a few minutes. Another soldier told me to return to where I had been. I told him that I was on my way home, and had no other place to go. I waited a while. The settlers walked toward the mosque, and I rode the horse toward the second entrance to my house. When I approached it, I heard my two daughters and wife shouting. I saw a few settlers leave the house, and soldiers standing in front of the door. When I got inside, I saw my wife, my daughters, and two of our neighbors — the wife of Ishak Jabber and her daughter. They were all shouting. The women said that the settlers had knocked on the iron door, entered, and tried to assault the family. They said that the boys tried to stop them, and within a few minutes managed to remove the settlers from the house.

My son Muhammad, 19, went outside after the settlers. The soldiers ordered him to go with them to the concrete blocks around thirty meters from the house. I went outside and told the soldiers, “Why did you take my son?” The officer came over to me and said I had nothing to worry about, that they were going to ask him some questions and then bring him back home. Muhammad returned in about ten minutes. He said that the soldiers asked him why he was causing problems. Muhammad told them that he and his family were at home and the settlers broke in and assaulted them.

Fifteen minutes later, the soldiers came and knocked on the door. One of them told us not to repeat what we had done to the settlers. When I heard that, I tried to close the door. The soldier held the door and tried to prevent me from closing it. I moved his hand and closed the door. Twenty minutes later, an officer came to the house. My son ‘Abd spoke with him. The officer apologized to him for what happened. He shook his hand and wished him good night. I did not file a complaint with the police because none of us was hurt, and we know that filing complaints doesn’t help.

The ten soldiers who were nearby when the settlers broke into the house could have stopped them. I don’t think the settlers would attack us and enter our homes if they didn’t know the soldiers would protect them.

The Israeli army restricts our freedom of movement, primarily on Fridays and Saturday nights. They don’t let us enter our house via the entrance by the path the settlers use. We manage to enter only after arguing with them or when they are not looking.

Basemah Muhammad Mahmoud Abu Hatah, 39, married with nine children, is a homemaker and a resident of Hebron. Her testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness’s home on 12 February 2007:

I live with my husband and our nine children. The oldest is twenty-one and the youngest is three. We live in an old, two-story house in the a-Saleymeh neighborhood. The house has two entrances, which faces the neighborhood and leads to the first floor, and an entrance facing the path that the settlers use linking Kiryat Arba and the Tomb of the Patriarchs. They call it Worshipper’s Way.

On Saturday [27 January], at around eight at night, I was on the first floor of the house, talking with our neighbor, Umm ‘Izmat, who had come to visit with her six children. All my children were at home. The small ones were on the first floor and the four big children were on the second floor. They were playing cards with their friends. My husband was not at home.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of lots of people inside the house. I ran to the second floor, where I saw more than thirty settlers — men and women, all of them young. They were beating my children. I shouted for help. My daughter, Haba, who is fifteen, and our neighbor also shouted.

During most of the attack, the soldiers did nothing

The children tried to push the settlers out of the house, through the door they had entered. The attack lasted about fifteen minutes. While this was happening, I saw two army vehicles that had stopped opposite the house. Some soldiers were standing next to the vehicles. During most of the attack, the soldiers did nothing. Only at the last moment, when my children had already managed to push most of the settlers out, a few soldiers came into the house and helped them. My children left the house and I followed them outside to bring them back into the house.

The soldiers detained my son Muhammad, 19, and took him to a place about fifty meters from the house. In the meantime, my husband arrived home. He went to the soldiers and asked them why they had detained Muhammad. One of the soldiers told him that he shouldn’t be worried, and that he would release Muhammad shortly. Muhammad indeed returned in a few minutes.

Not long after that, the soldiers knocked on the door. One of them spoke with my husband. My husband told me that the soldier said that we should not have done what we did to the settlers. A few minutes after that, an army officer came to the house. He stood by the door and spoke with my son ‘Abd a-Rahman. My son said that the officer apologized for what happened and wished him a good night.

This was not the first time that settlers had attacked us. Three years ago, following the action in Wadi a-Nasara (the attack on the soldiers on Worshipper’s Way, in 2002), our door was open and six or seven settlers came in. They broke the glass pane of the closet in the bedroom. By chance, an army jeep was passing by. We stopped it and the settlers fled. If the army had not come, they might have injured us.

I think that the settlers would not have entered our house if they didn’t think the Israeli army would protect them and wait for them by the door. The army interfered in the attack to protect the settlers, not to protect us.

Related Links

  • B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
  • Settlements & Settlers