16 October, 2023 | International Solidarity Movement | Masafer Yatta
In the week since Israel began its onslaught on Gaza, soldiers and settlers have bulldozed homes, carried out night raids and attacked Palestinians across the Masafer Yatta region.
Occupation forces have taken advantage of the state of emergency to escalate their violence and displacement of Palestinians in the southern region of the West Bank.
Olive trees have also been uprooted and rampaging settlers have opened fire on shepherds and villagers.
Villagers in Umm al-Khair have been documenting the growing number of attacks by settlers in Masafer Yatta. The community shared this information with ISM, which we are reporting here.
On October 7, settlers set up road blocks throughout Masafer Yatta, preventing villagers from accessing vital services and disrupting their daily lives.
On the same day, a group of settlers entered the village of Khalet Adabe, attacking one resident and breaking his arm.
On Tuesday, October 10, settlers in military uniforms entered Umm al Khair and proceeded to detain the young people of the village, checking their IDs and confiscating cell phones.
The settlers claimed that they had seen someone from the village walking ‘dangerously’ close to the fence surrounding the settlement of Carmel. This turned out to be Mohammed Hathaleen, a disabled man, who was left with severe brain damage after being brutally beaten by Carmel settlers 23 years ago.
“Mohammad currently lives in a state of unawareness of his surroundings,” his brother Tariq Hathaleen said. “In his condition, he is unable to perceive or react to danger, particularly when walking near the settlement fence.
“It’s difficult to fathom or even endure such an accusation, given that the Carmel settlement is located merely one metre from Umm al-Khair village.”
The settlers left with a warning that they would shoot anyone who comes in close proximity to the fence that separates the settlements from the village.
On Monday, October 16, the village of Umm al-Khair was terrorised once again when a military patrol stopped and soldiers pointed their guns at Mohammed Hathaleen. They are said to have put down their guns after villagers shouted at them to stop.
Carmel was built in 1981 on the doorstep of Umm al-Khair, a Bedouin village that has lived under constant threat of demolition for many years.
Also on Tuesday (October 10), settlers accompanied by the military demolished five Palestinian homes and two animal barns in the village of Simri.
On Wednesday, October 11, several villagers including Susyiah, at-Tuwani, Adirat, Umm Al-Khair, Al-Karmel and Ajawaiah came under gunfire by settlers.
A military patrol also opened fire on a shepherd near the village of at-Tuwani without warning. He was left unharmed but two of his sheep were shot and injured.
As previously reported by ISM, a settler shot at-Tuwani resident Zakarya Adra in the stomach on Friday, October 13.
Hathaleen continued: “What is happening is unlike anything before; nobody can predict what tomorrow may bring. There seem to be no openings for hope or a clear vision of tomorrow at this time.
“As the ordeal enters its second week, the people endure immense suffering, despite limited media coverage of these distressing events. It begs the question: How much longer must Palestinians endure before the world takes notice and acts?”