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Settler Attack in Asira al Qibliya

In the late afternoon of Tuesday, October 27th, three MPTers and another international went to Asira al Qibliya after receiving a call that a Palestinian home was being attacked by Israeli settlers from Yitzhar. Asira al Qibliya is a village 9 miles southwest of Nablus, and half a mile from Yitzhar, one of the most ideologically-oriented illegal Israel settlements in the area.

An Israeli soldier across the street from the family's home, the settlement of Yitzhar in the distance.

When the internationals arrived, the settlers were gone but two Israeli Occupation Army jeeps remained along with about six soldiers. Interestingly, the internationals were told that the soldiers arrived half an hour before the settlers, and that the same thing happened in the last settler attack. The MPTers were puzzled by this and mentioned it to a Palestinian acquaintance, who said that such “attacks” are planned between the army and the settlers to make it appear that the soldiers are defending the Palestinians. MPTers attempted to engage the soldiers in conversation but the commanding officer ordered the soldiers not to speak. As MPTers took photographs, one soldier came over and offered to pose for a photo of himself shaking hands with a Palestinian man, but his efforts were rebuffed.

Israeli soldiers and jeeps in front of the family's home.
The home is on the edge of Asira al Qibliya and the target of settler invasions over the past four years. Villagers often watch for the attacks and come to their aid. This particular day the husband was away and the wife was alone with her four children. She said that settlers had been attacking the house every Friday, but lately now “only” once or twice a month. Approximately a year ago, settlers spraypainted stars of David on the house. The family painted them over, and settlers repainted several of the stars.

The mother shows the MPTers some of the damage previously caused by settlers, while three of the children pose.

During one attack when the soldiers fired tear gas at the family home, the mother asked a soldier, “Why do you fire tear gas at us and do nothing to the settlers, when the settlers attack us?” The soldier responded, “I don’t know. I’ve only been here a week.” The other international told MPTers that a year ago 100 settlers attacked the village, shooting, smashing windows, and throwing stones. A video of the invasion had been surreptitiously taken by an international and was shown on Israeli TV. The Israeli Prime Minister described the incident as a “settler pogrom.” (See http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1020914.html for Israeli press coverage of the incident.)

Solar panels on the roof, one damaged previously by settlers.

MPTers and the other international visited another family who also had been subjected to attacks. The homeowner said his and two other hilltop houses are frequently attacked. He has lived in his home since 1994 but for the past four years he has not been able to visit or tend his land for fear of the settlers. He said the Oslo Accords made conditions worse. Before Oslo, he said, people in his community could go to their land without fear. Now settlers have confiscated his father’s land; burned wheat that the villagers had planted, and destroyed 60 olive trees. In addition, the villagers can no longer access the village well which had supplied the community with much of its water needs. He said the settlers’ only purpose in coming down to the village is to harass and intimidate the people, with the purpose of getting them to move so settlers can take over the entire area. He was the first Palestinian these MPTers encountered who wagged his finger at them when they identified themselves as from the United States. Palestinians are aware of the complicity of the United States in the financing of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.

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