Huwwara: setellers from Yitzhar severely harass the locals with the backing of the army andcivil administration
28.05.17 Visit to Heuwarra. Nathalie C. (Hebrew translation), Ana S. (English). Driver Rifat.
In Huwwara, Yitzhar religious settlers (some Yeshiva students) throw stones at Palestinians, whether these are demonstrating or farming; shoot them sometimes; and burn their tractors and their olive trees at night. In broad daylight, groups of 80 break into private homes, damage furniture and beat up those who live there, old or young, men and women.
Rather than intervene, the Army only patrols the Nablus (Shechem) road to ensure settlers’ safety. However, they limit farmers’ access to their own lands, and by imposing permits and only allowing them to work their tractors 2 days @year, actually reduce their income.
Palestinian garbage has become a profitable business for Israelis. Huwwara municipality had to pay 8000 NIS recently to ransom their garbage vehicle, seized by the Army; and must now pay the owners of a distant dumping site the fee of 39,000 NIS; plus spend more money on gasoline, and on the salaries of the driver and his two assistants.
In the Mayor’s absence, A., the secretary receives us, generously sharing with us some serious problems which beset Huwwara. We lack a common language, but our driver Rifat serves as translator.
A local spring supplies water to settlements and Huwwara. Mekorot lowers the water pressure in Huwwara sometimes; then houses up the hill don’t receive any water or not enough.
Three settlements sit on nearby hills: Bracha, Itamar and Yitzhar. Bracha settlers often go down to burn Burin’s olive trees and break into homes.10 days ago, an Itamar man killed a young Heuwarran. Yitzhar, the nearest one, on the hill overhead, is their worst problem, says A.
Having expropriated Palestinian lands, Yitzhar settlers now devise ways to attack their indigenous neighbors and their property.
(1) At noon ten days ago, A. tells us, on the square near the main Nablus (Shechem) road, some 400 to 500 Palestinian men, women and children—whole families—gathered, identifying with the hunger-striking prisoners, some of whom are their relatives. About 20 young settlers came and threw stones at these Palestinians; while driving home, a settler began shooting and wounded an American photo-journalist.
(2) A week ago at night, we are told, settlers burnt a Palestinian tractor parked near the owner’s home. They also burnt a large area of olive trees.
(3) By throwing stones at them, settlers frighten farmers off their own lands. Rather than protect the victims, the Army “allows” them to farm their own lands only if they possess a work permit, we are told; and to run their tractors only 2 days a year. This illegal time limitation constitutes not only a glaring infringement of farmers’ right of access to their own land, but in thus reducing their farms’ productivity, it also effectively lowers their main or only source of income. Unable to plough and cultivate all of their land in the two days allotted to them, several farmers lose large portions of their farms: unploughed, covered with weeds, this land now lies wasted.
By reducing the area of cultivated land, i.e. its productivity, this unjustified time limitation impoverishes these unfortunate Palestinians.
(4) Around 3 or 4 pm, Yitzhar settlers—evoking the diabolic procedures of the Ku-Klux-Klan—now come regularly to Heuwarra, forcing their way into private homes—in groups of 80—to inflict damage and beat up peaceful families. A month and a half ago, 80 men beat a 70-year old woman on the head and her two male relatives.
Ironically, it is to a very religious community with two Yeshivot, that these violent, lawless men belong. Some were or still are Yeshiva students. TimesofIsrael.com relates that Yitzhar men “attack[ed] Israeli security personnel”; and, in August 2015, at night set fire to a home in Duma village, killing 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and fatally burning his young parents (Retrieved S.Weinglass 7.08.15, “At Yitzhar, heartland of settler extremism, hostility to ..Israel is no secret”).
One cannot help wondering whether in all the years of their Yeshiva studies, or even synagogue services no one has ever told them of the respect due— irrespective of religion, race, colour or gender—to one’s fellowmen or women, and his/her rights to life and property?
The DCO, A. says, answering our question, could not help them. The Army, he adds, is afraid of these violent settlers. They only patrol the main Nablus road, so that settlers can drive past unhindered.
(5) Finally, the Army is to build a new road bypassing Huwwara for the settlers’ benefit. Recently, the Mayor found this out when asking soldiers why they were examining private Palestinian land.
The new road will once again encroach on residents’ private land.
Recently, as the driver was dumping the town’s garbage at Beita, their customary dumping ground, the Army seized the municipal garbage vehicle for 10 days and its driver for a few hours. The vehicle was freed only after the municipality paid 8,000 sh. ransom money and signed a commitment to dump the garbage from now on in a distant site. This will increase the municipal expenses considerably: the longer trip will require more gasoline, and the driver and the two workers will have to be paid for longer working hours. And to top it off, the town will have to pay a high fee to the Company running this new dumping site: 130 sh @ ton of garbage. The average garbage is10 tons @ day; that is,10 x 30 = 300 tons x 130; they will have to pay 39,000 NIS every month.
Till now, only 60% of the residents have paid for this essential municipal service. The municipality, which is not aided by the Nablus (Shechem) Authority, nor any other, has no funds for this unjustified and unexpected charge. Furthermore, in the 10 days since the vehicle was seized by the Army, accumulated garbage reached a very great amount. In these hot days just before the beginning of Ramadan, this could have been a very serious health hazard.