24 October 2009
The village of Iraq Burin came under attack from the nearby settlement Bracha on Saturday, 24 October. Approximately 50 settlers clashed with 50 young men of the village, followed by violent intervention of Israeli Occupation Forces. Three Palestinian boys were taken to hospital following the attack.
At 1pm approximately 50 settlers were seen approaching Iraq Burin. They then surrounded a now-defunct well approximately 200m from the edge of the village. Eyewitnesses report them sitting on the land around the well, watching the village from across the small valley that divided them. Taking up rocks in their hands they began to attack, as the boys and young men gathered to face the settlers were showered with hundreds of stones. The Palestinians ran in to the valley to fight back, hurling rocks at their invaders. Three Palestinians sustained injuries in the clash; one to the arm, one his shoulder and one his hands.
Abu Haisan, mayor of Iraq Burin, called the District Co-ordination Office to alert the military who arrived at 2pm. 40 Israeli soldiers arrived in 7 jeeps and immediately pushed the settlers and Palestinians apart, only to turn and begin firing tear gas and sound bombs on the villagers as they retreated. The settlers, now driven back to the opposing hill top, splintered in to groups – some moving back towards the settlement, others hiding in the olive groves at the top of the hill, attempting to move forwards but being held at bay by the soldiers.
The gas cleared to see Palestinians and settlers withdrawn to the opposite sides of the valley, divided by Israeli Occupation Forces maintaining a close watch. It was at this stage international activists arrived on the scene, to witness a group of six settlers attempt to move down through the olive groves again to attack, but held back by the military. A Red Crescent ambulance was able to transport the three injured to Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus for medical attention.
The clash took place on land annexed by Bracha, 30 dunums of which the DCO announced two weeks ago it will return to the rightful owners of the village. Izad Qadous, a farmer owning 20 dunums of the contested land has stated however that so far the majority of the land still remains de facto property of the settlement, as when the farmers have attempted to reach the lands they have been prevented by the military.
The settlers retain their presence on the land as well. A tent, heralding the potential construction of a new outpost, lies on the hill facing the village which the DCO has stated it would remove since its appearance at the beginning of the summer but thus far has failed to do so. Settlers are sighted often in the area of the tent and also the aforementioned well, rendered unusable when explosives were thrown in it by the IOF several years ago. Qadous states that settler violence in the area has seen a sharp increase this year, the village experiencing only isolated cases prior to 2009. Attacks occur frequently, as in other areas of the West Bank, on Saturdays, or Sabbat, traditionally the Jewish holy day and day of rest.
In addition to the 100 dunums of land lost to construction and agricultural expansion of Bracha there is a further 500 dunums of land surrounding the settlement lost by farmers of Iraq Burin, merely by proximity to the illegal settlement and rendering it impossible to reach for fear of settler or military incursion.