Ramallah, December 23, 2013—Defence for Children International Palestine produced a short film about Palestinian families living near the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, which is described by The New York Times as “an extremist bastion on the hilltops commanding the Palestinian city of Nablus in the northern West Bank.”
Yitzhar's roughly 1,000 radical Israeli settlers terrorize 20,000 Palestinians from the surrounding villages of Burin, Madama, Asira al-Qibliya, Urif, Einabus, and Huwara.
“Multiple times they would reach as far as our doorstep,” says Um Majdi from Asira al-Qibliya. “Some of them throw rocks at us, others set fires, and some write hate slogans on the walls. We’re in a stressed psychological state.”
Yitzhar settlers are responsible for hate crimes, termed “price tag” attacks, targeting Palestinians in retaliation for actions, including those initiated by the Israeli government, against Jewish settlements in the West Bank. They have also repeatedly attacked the US-funded water project in Asira al-Qibliya.
Settlements like Yitzhar continue to expand in the West Bank with Israeli government support. There are approximately 650,000 settlers living in over 200 settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“The idea behind the Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank is very clear,” says Dror Etkes, the director of Israeli organization Kerem Navot, which studies land use in the West Bank. “To marginalize the Palestinian community, which is about 90% of the population, still today, to certain enclaves ... in order to leave as much as possible vacant land for the development of the Israeli settlements.”
Settlements have a profound impact on the lives of Palestinians throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Apart from the loss of land taken for the settlements and their related infrastructure, settler violence, such as beatings, shootings and destruction of property are a common occurrence in the lives of Palestinians, including children.
“Sometimes I dream that they shoot at us,” says 12-year-old Roa'a Abu Majdi. “They take us, along with the neighbors' kids, and throw us in a hole.”
The Israeli authorities have consistently failed to prevent settler attacks against Palestinians and to take adequate law enforcement measures against settlers who commit these crimes. Israeli soldiers often turn a blind eye and fail to intervene in confrontations. DCI-Palestine has also documented cases where soldiers actively participate in civilian attacks by settlers.