Women's Voices: Rahmeh N. - Settler violence

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Name: Rahmeh N.
Age: 70 Location: Burin village, West Bank Date: 2 February 2013 Nature of incident: Settler violence

On 2 February 2013, a mob of settlers from Yitzhar and Bracha attacked the West Bank village of Burin, terrifying local women and children.

“My house is very close to the road used by settlers from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar,” says 70-year-old Rahmeh. “Settlers from Yitzhar have caused us so much trouble over the years. They are a constant source of stress for the entire village. They often attack our village and my house is the first to be hit.”

“On 2 February, a group of settlers, protected by Israeli soldiers, removed some protest tents erected by a group of activists on land belonging the village. The activists were trying to stop a group of settlers from an outpost near Bracha settlement from taking the land. Clashes between the settlers, activists and villagers erupted and other settlers from Yitzhar attacked the village where my house is located,” recalls Rahmeh.

“At around noon, I was at home with my daughter-in-law, Salam, and three of my young grandchildren. All of a sudden I heard Salam calling out that settlers were running down the hill towards our house. I looked out of the window and saw around 30 to 40 settlers. I rushed to shut all the doors and windows because I knew there was going to be trouble. My grandchildren were terrified and started to cry. I felt there was very little I could do to calm them down.”

“As soon as the settlers approached they started throwing rocks at our house. We were scared and kept well away from the windows. I then heard the sound of shots and soon our house started to fill up with tear gas. Word spread in the village and someone called my son who rushed home thinking the house was on fire. When he arrived I had already lost consciousness. When I regained consciousness I found myself in an ambulance on the way to hospital. At the hospital I was given first aid and oxygen. Thankfully I was discharged the same day.”

“I feel a deep sense of insecurity in my own home,” says Rahmeh. “This is not the first time this has happened – it has become routine. Things got slightly better in the last six months but it seems as though the settlers are organising for violence once again. When the soldiers show up they attack us instead of making sure the settlers don’t come too close. I hardly ever leave my house now for fear that something might happen in my absence. We live a life of constant terror and we are left to defend ourselves.”