Human Rights Report No. 355

Date of incident: 31.05.2008
Place: Immatin, Qalqilya District
Witness/es: Farmers and municipality members

Contact details: IWPS withholds this information as a courtesy to those involved – we will do our best to furnish you with all the relevant information you might need to begin action.

Description of Incident:
Farmers from the village of Immatin report that on Saturday, the 31st of May 2008, Israeli settlers from the illegal extremist settlement out post “Shvut Ami” repeatedly attacked them as they were working on their land, about 600m away from the outpost.

According to their account, about twenty settlers with dogs approached five farmers working in the area at around 9.00 a.m.. They started cursing the farmers and their religion, swearing at Prophet Mohammad. The settlers then began to throw stones at the farmers, who stood their ground and defended themselves by also throwing stones back at the settlers and called for help from the village. After approximately half an hour, as more people from the village arrived, the settlers retreated back to the outpost. This scene was repeated two more times until 12.00 at noon. At the latter instance settlers caught and beat a young man from the village who had come to help the attacked farmers.

Between 12.30 and 1.00 p.m. an Israeli army hummer drove through the village and detained the same young man who had gone back to guard a flock of goats on the outskirts of the village. They handcuffed him and forced him into the hummer and brought him to a shack close to the land were the attacks earlier happened and started to hit him. A farmer who worked close by, reports that he approached the soldiers to inquire about the young man, but was cursed and threatened by the soldiers and told to leave. However, he returned shortly afterwards with a second farmer. The soldiers then forced the young man into the shack were they started to beat him again with fists and gun butts. The young man later told the farmers that the soldiers had asked him questions like “To whom belongs this land?” and “To whom belongs Jerusalem?” and would curse and beat him when he answered “It is ours”. After about an hour the soldiers let the young man go and left the area shortly after.

The farmers further account that at around 4 p.m. about 30 settlers with dogs came back to the area; some of them were masked, and three were armed with M16s and one with a handgun. The settlers were accompanied by two soldiers. The settlers and the soldiers threatened the seven or eight farmers present to leave the area. The farmers refused, arguing that they were on their land and that the settlers should leave. They again called for help from the village and more and more residents of Immatin arrived during the next hours, at one point reaching up to 200. The army also called for reinforcement and 12 more soldiers came to the area. A standoff ensued, with the settlers again throwing stones. When some of the Palestinians responded by also throwing back stones, soldiers and settlers started to shoot live ammunition in the air and at the ground in front of the gathered villagers. As the crowd did not disperse, soldiers fired directly into them, hitting a 17 year old youth in his left hand, and grazing a 31 year old man in his stomach. Soldiers then continued to throw tear gas and sound grenades at the villagers and also fired some so called rubber bullet, hitting and bruising one man on the back of his head. At around 19.15 p.m. army and settlers finally left the area.

Both injured by live ammunition were evacuated to Qalqilya hospital. While the man injured in the stomach was released later the same night, the youth shot in the hand was still in the hospital the next day.

Youth shot in hand
Photo by N. Twail

The illegal outpost “Shvut Ami” (My People's Return) was established in October 2007, when extremist Israeli settlers from the Havat Gilad outpost took over a house between Immatin and Jit overlooking Highway No. 55 and belonging to a Palestinian woman from the village of Kufr Qadum. Farmers from Immatin report that while only about 6 settlers stay at the outpost during the week, they are usually joined by tens more over the week ends. Settlers coming from the out post routinely throw stones at Palestinian cars using the road below and frequently harass and attack farmers who work on their land close to the outpost, especially over the week ends.

After a legal complaint by the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din on behalf of the owners of the house and the surrounding land, the Israeli authorities admitted that the outpost is on privately owned Palestinian land and has to be evicted. The Israeli army evicted the settlers from the outpost several times, but has been unwilling to prevent them from returning back within hours after the evictions. On the 5th of April, 2008, the army allowed a group of Israeli activists from the Anarchists against the Wall, who were invited by the owners and the village council of Kufr Qadum, to come to the house right after the eviction. However the army then refused to protect them from the dozens of settlers returning to the outpost and stood by as they were forced out violently.

According to the farmers from Immatin the settlers’ attacks intensified between the 10th and the 15th of April as settlers from the Shvut Ami outpost made several attempts to steal goats, sheep and horses from the Palestinian farmers. In one instance they took two horses, but were followed by a larger number of farmers who forced them to give the horses back. However, one horse stolen from the farmers from the village of Tell is believed to still be with the settlers. On the 10th of April settlers also attacked a farmer from Immatin and his elderly mother and damaged his tractor with stones.

On the 12th of April about 25 masked settlers attacked a 62 year old farmer from Immatin and his 57 year old wife working on their land about 300m from the outpost. They pelted the elderly couple with stones, hitting the man in the face and the women on her shoulder. When the man tried to complain about the attack at the police station in the nearby settlement of Qedumim, the guard at the entrance of the settlement refused him entry. After the intervention of a fieldworker of the Rabbis for Human Rights a police officer came to Jit to record the complaint. Two weeks later the farmer’s wife was able to identify one of the settlers, who had dropped his mask during the attack, on pictures shown to her at the Ariel police station. On the 20th of May the same couple was attacked by a masked settler on a red horse. The settler tried to threaten the farmer and his wife to leave their land and, when they stood their ground, got down from his horse to attack with a knife a the farmer’s flock of goats and the children. As the farmer brandished his stick to prevent the settler from killing the goats, the settler escaped on his horse, only to return again shortly after and throw stones at the farmer from close range. The farmer reports that, while the following day was quiet, he found 9 of his olive trees and about 6 dunum of wheat burned on the morning of the 22nd of May. Again, a guard at Qedumim refused to let him enter the settlement to reach the police, while police officer claimed the police station would be closed for three days. It was only after an intervention by the Yesh Din and hours of waiting that the farmer was allowed to file his complaint at the police station.

Report written by: Clara and Andjelka
Date report written on: 01.06.2008

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Jun. 2, 2008 at 12:46 PM Stories like this make me want to get a big, really big gun and go protect people trying to grow food to eat. May Allah forgive me for the hatred I fell right now.

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Jun. 2, 2008 at 6:48 PM

Sadly, this kind of incident is far too common!  The settlers (who are illegally on the land of course) even attack children, sometimes shoot at the farmers etc.  And the international community does nothing.



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Jun. 2, 2008 at 6:54 PM

Sis, you have every right to feel hate for people like that. Yes, we are taught not to be the aggressors but when some one starts to physically force and put their hands on us we have every right to fight back. Stuff like this needs to be stopped. Check this link out. it is a testimony from soldiers, how the kill and torture innocent people. May Allah protect them.

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Jun. 3, 2008 at 10:47 AM Horrible case, and shows the lack of justice. They break the law, get evicted, but aren't prevented from doing it again. So much for dealing with criminals, if their victims aren't Israelis it doesn't matter. Terica, you're not the only one who's mad or has that feeling, and though I'm not Muslim, I've always believed that at times we cannot help but hate, hate can be a natural reaction, and righteous hate at injustice and crime is natural. It is only a sin to hate if we willfully hold hatred in our heart and cling to it, and will not let go. Thank you for this post Muslimah. I hope ya'll all have a good day. I'll keep praying for peace in Palestine.

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Jun. 3, 2008 at 3:54 PM Thanks again truthrowen for reading and replying. Your support is much needed and I am happy to have you as a member with us in support of this cause.

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