Settlers from the three settlements around Burin—Kfar Bracha, Yitzhar and the outpost Givat Ronen—living on lands usurped from villagers, continue harassing the village. We heard about two violent incidents. In one, settlers three weeks ago intruded into the village near the home of a family with a couple and their baby. This involved soldiers detonating tear gas first on the home and later directy on the fleeing occupants. In the second one, soldiers erupted into the courtyard of the Boys’ High School—-which has often been the scene of violence. Lessons were interrupted, all the boys were sent home and the teachers themselves hurried off in their cars. A boy suffered a head-injury and was taken to hospital. We looked on as this unwarranted intrusion was taking place.
The Mayor was busy and unable to receive us. Instead, D., a resident whom Patchia and Nurit know, kindly offered to meet us at the Baladia. The visit to Burin took longer than expected, since Mustafa had to fetch her, and later took us, together with D., to see the scenes of the two violent episodes described below.
In the winter, rainwater in the tanks on the roofs of villagers’ homes supplements Mekorot’s stingy allocation. But it was during all the hot summer, precisely when rainwater was no longer available, that Mekorot reduced the water allocation. Then there was no running water in Burin for 2 days every week.
Although set in what seems a peaceful, pastoral hilly area, Burin was aptly called “the land of unchecked settler harassment” (retrieved Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz 2008); this is still true. Two settlements, Kfar Bracha and Yitzhar, and the outpost Givat Ronen—not officially recognized by Israeli authorities— have been living for over 20 years on each of three hills surrounding the village. Burin villagers understandably cannot forget that the three Israeli settlements live on lands stolen from them. A fourth group now lives halfway down one of the hills: in a big tent, there are 100 soldiers guarding the outpost residents. These five groups differ greatly in their behaviour, values, and aims. Their interactions have not led to neighbourly friendliness.
Newspapers and videos reveal the sad reality.“Clashes between the residents of Yitzhar and Burin occur frequently. Earlier this month, several Yitzhar residents entered Burin and threw rocks at homes” (retrieved Jer.Post 28.12.17). But those involved in the incidents with which this report deals are the residents of Givat Ronen.
At the edge of the village and close to this outpost, a small and old stone house was recently the scene of violence. It is home to a couple, their baby son and some relatives. Three weeks ago, on March 2 some Givat Ronen settlers came down from their hill into the village. As the intruders passed this house, villagers tried to send them away; soldiers soon appeared and detonated tear gas to protect the “endangered” settlers. Frightened, the couple and their baby fled their home, and ran towards the village.Then, instead of leading the intruders back home, the soldiers followed the fleeing trio, and again detonated tear gas but now directly on them. A video on aYesh Din site documents this unjustified show of force.
We drove to this small and old village house, took photos of it as well as of some three or four soldiers moving around on the hill not far from it. A 65 year-old man came out of the house and spoke to us in fluent Hebrew. Having worked in construction work for 30 years in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, he feels the Israelis there were kinder than those who are now his neighbours. He said that soldiers stop farmers from working on the farmlands located near the outpost; he explained why this ban harms both olive and fruit trees. If farmers don’t remove the weeds which keep growing around them, these trees will dry up. And this hard work needs to be done again and again. Just then, as if to confirm his words, two farmers came down the hill on their vehicle, and told him that the soldiers had not allowed them to work their lands. They looked frustrated and helpless.
SOLDIERS INTRUDE into BOYS’ HIGH SCHOOL
We drove on to see the boys’ school, where D’s 18-year-old son studies, and into which settlers have repeatedly intruded, sometimes using tear gas and injuring pupils. On other occasions, settlers damaged teacher’s cars, and disrupted mid-term exams (retrieved Jer. Post article quoted above). Settlers claim boys threw stones on cars travelling on the road just outside the school. But, even if this were true, taking justice into their own hands and so violently, would be, to say the least most inappropriate. TheYesh Din site has videos and describes such aggressive infringements of privacy rights. We arrived at the school, while another intrusion was taking place.
At about 11.50 p.m, soldiers could be seen moving in the schoolyard, pupils were leaving the school, and teachers’ cars were quickly exiting the building. An ambulance just outside the school was about to take to hospital a pupil with head injuries. D’s son, who came into our minivan, told his Mother how during their break, soldiers walked into the schoolyard, and then their school day ended abruptly. Sending all the boys home, teachers hurriedly left the school.
Some time ago, a notification was sent to the mayor, informing him that some 10 dunams of land belonging to the school would soon be expropriated. Without any explanation. The mayor refused to receive the messengers. But villages feel this will happen.
D. tells us that these days she and all the mothers in Burin are feeling very fearful and anxious about their sons’ safety and future.
Berger, Yotam. 2018. “Israelis Filmed Throwing Rocks at Palestinian Homes in West Bank Village,” (Retrieved Haaretz, Feb 09).
Issacharoff, Avi. 2008. “The land of unchecked settler harassment,” (Retrieved Haaretz).
JTA. 2017. “Settlers attack Palestinian school, saying students threw rocks at them” (Retrieved Jer. Post, December 28).