Voices from the Occupation - Settler Violence

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Name: Yazan H.
Date of incident: 24 April 2011
Age: 13
Location: Huwwara, Nablus, Occupied Palestinian Territory
Nature of incident: Settler violence

On 24 April 2011, a 13-year-old boy is hospitalised when hit by a rock thrown by settlers at a checkpoint outside Nablus City, in the Occupied West Bank.

On the morning of the attack, a group of Israeli settlers entered the city of Nablus, without prior coordination, and were shot at by Palestinian police when they refused to stop at a checkpoint. One of the settlers was killed. In retaliation, settlers attacked Palestinians.

At 12:00 pm on Sunday, 24 April 2011, thirteen-year-old Yazan was heading to Nablus City with his father, Amir, to deliver some of their home made sweets to the shops in the city. Before the checkpoint into Nablus, the Israeli police ordered them to stop the car. As Amir turned off the engine, he saw ‘tens of settlers in white clothes about 15 to 20 metres away, heading towards us.

They were in their twenties. They started picking stones from the ground as they were approaching.’ Yazan was very scared. ‘They were shouting in Hebrew and I couldn’t understand what they were saying,’ Yazan recalls. The settlers started to pelt the car with stones, and the boy was terrified. His father tried to protect him: ‘I put his head between the seats, and placed my right leg near his head to shield him from the stones. The windshield smashed and shattered inside the car from the stones raining down on us. The sound of stones hitting the car was horrifying.’ ‘After that, the settlers started to aim directly at my son, who was shivering... They were directly targeting my little son. A huge stone hit him on the head, splitting his head open. The stone was huge, about three or four kilograms.

During the attack the Israeli police were standing there and didn’t do anything. A policeman with a kippah was smiling and laughing,’ recalls Amir, who was also injured in his hand. He continues: ‘I then opened the door and got out of the car. At that moment, I saw Israeli policemen, whom I assume were military police, running towards the car.

They were in grey uniforms, and carrying handguns around their waists... I dragged Yazan out of the car the minute I saw them driving the settlers away.’ An Israeli official drove Yazan and his father to the checkpoint at the entrance of Nablus. The soldiers manning the checkpoint, which was closed, let Yazan and his father through. Amir explains: ‘Yazan was bleeding, crying and shouting… People approached us and told us they had contacted an ambulance and it was on its way.’ They were both taken to the hospital for treatment.

Due to the loss of earnings from the attack, and the cost of repairing the car, Yazan’s father could not afford to buy the prescribed medication for his son, or send him to a doctor for a follow up visit. Speaking to DCI three days later Yazan explains: ‘I still feel pain in the head especially when I try to sit down. I’m very scared of settlers. In my head, I still see them in white clothes with their scary faces. That makes me scared all the time.’ Referring to the inaction of Israeli officials in charge of law enforcement in the OPT, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says that they, ‘do not do enough to stop the violent attacks by settlers when they are taking place.