The village of ‘Urif, with a population of some 3,600, is located southwest of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Due to its proximity to the settlement of Yitzhar and its satellite outposts, village residents have been suffering for years from repeated attacks by settlers.
Yitzhar was established in 1983, only about one kilometer from ‘Urif farmlands, and most of the settler attacks take place in farmland close to the village water tower, which is situated some 500 meters from its easternmost homes.
Over recent months, the NGO B’Tselem has documented three attacks by settlers in the area, some of which included the active participation of soldiers. In March, settlers assaulted residents of the village and the soldiers who accompanied them shot and killed one resident and injured a boy aged 14. In April, settlers cut down 57 trees on land belonging to villagers and punctured the tires of a car and a truck. At the beginning of June, settlers injured a shepherd and assaulted other residents, while soldiers joined in the attack, injuring another resident.
Since then, B’Tselem has documented four more incidents. In one case, settlers and members of the security forces assaulted residents of ‘Urif, and the settlers torched 159 fruit trees. In two other incidents, settlers damaged cars belonging to villagers, burning two and vandalizing the tires of two others. In another incident, settlers built a wooden shed on private land belonging to villagers.
The repeated attacks by settlers from Yitzhar and its outposts against ‘Urif and the adjacent Palestinian villages are intended to usurp ever-increasing areas of Palestinian land and to bring about the de facto annexation of the land to the settlements. In this way, Palestinians lose not only their land but also their livelihood. The conduct of the Israeli security forces – guarding the assailants and actively participating in attacks, repeatedly sends Palestinians a message of complete disregard for their lives, safety and property. These attacks have become a violent routine, but this does not make them any less serious.
B’Tselem has written: “The persistence of this violence is not only entirely unacceptable, but also reveals that it is neither capricious nor temporary. Rather, it is part of an integrated policy, which sees the state, through the military, and the settlers – engaging in continued efforts, over time, to dispossess as many Palestinians as possible, driving them to leave their land ‘voluntarily’ so that it can be seized.”