Legal Work, Occupied Territories, Press Releases

Series of incidents where soldiers stand by as Palestinians are attacked

0 Comments 06 June 2017


In a month and a half: A series of about six incidents where Israeli soldiers stand idly by as Palestinians are attacked by extremists settlers.

standing idly by

standing idly by

Most of these incidents occurred around the settlement of Yitzhar. In some of these incidents even the police failed to act against the settler assailants. This lack of enforcement by the police is relatively rare when compared to the army. 

Rabbis for Human Rights: The recurrence of about six incidents wherein the security forces neglected to detain or prevent extremist settlers from attacking Palestinians in the span of a month and a half in the same area — known for high levels of extremism and violence — suggests this is  an unwritten policy: Soldiers do not detain settler assailants, even though the army is the force in charge of security in this area of the West Bank (Area C).

In light of this, a letter was sent to the DOC Central Command Major General Roni Numa and the Legal Advisor to Judea and Samaria, Col. Eyal Toledano demanding answers to the following questions:

A. What actions will be taken in terms of disciplining of the soldiers, public relations, deterrence and investigation in order to root out the phenomenon of standing idly by?

B. How many extremist settlers have been detained and/or arrested in connection to the incidents collected below?

C. How many Military Police investigations are currently open concerning the cases collected below wherein soldiers were documented standing idly by?

Recent incidents of soldiers standing idly by:

May 27  2017, Madma

On Saturday May 27 2017, Mamun Nasser, a Palestinian farmer was attacked by masked Israelis from the vicinity of the Yitzhar settlement. The attack took place on land which is part of the Palestinian village Madma. Nasser sustained head injuries as a result of the Israeli stone throwers. According to Palestinian eyewitnesses, and implied by the army’s response to the event, soldiers were present but did not act to prevent the attack. Rabbis For Human Rights’ (RHR) field coordinator, Zakaria Sadah, arrived on the scene in his vehicle and asked to approach the injured man in order to assist him. However, he was obstructed by an army officer even though the incident was taking place on a Palestinian farming land, and not close to Yitzhar. The incident was captured on video by Yesh Din fieldworker, Munir Kados.

Rabbis for Human Rights: We are stunned that while masked assailants attacked a Palestinian civilian and subsequently ran off in the direction of Yitzhar, the army officer found it more compelling to threaten and stop human rights activist, Zakaria Sadah, than pursue the assailants. Sadah attempted to assist the wounded man, who was bleeding from his head, and to evacuate him from the scene. We do note that an army paramedic did bandage the man; however, Zakaria had asked to evacuate the injured man with his jeep to an area approachable by an ambulance. Moreover the officer made unnecessary and overt threats with his weapon at Zakaria, forcing him out of his jeep while taking Zakaria’s car keys. Only following the arrival of a more senior officer did the junior officer return Zakariya’s keys to him – by throwing the keys on the ground in an effort to humiliate.

May 21 2017, Burin

Officers and soldiers stood by while extremist settlers threw stones at Palestinians in Area B of the West Bank next to homes in the village of Burin. The officers order the Palestinians to leave the area, even though they are on their own village and on privately owned land, and load their weapons which they than aim at the Palestinians. The army is protecting the settlers, who are about a kilometer away from the nearby outpost of Givat Ronen, and, at most, rebuking them for throwing stones. We do not know if any settlers were detained in the incident.

This serious incident began when the village of Burin was attacked by extremist settlers. A field worker from the NGO Yesh Din was injured in his thigh by a stone and a vehicle belonging to RHR field coordinator Zakaria Sadah was damaged.

Additional documentation from RHR

Also see a summary by Yesh Din

Haaretz: Video shows settlers throwing stones at Palestinians in the West Bank as Israeli soldiers watch


May 16 2017, Huwara

Palestinians reported that three Palestinian vehicles were vandalized during a settler demonstration in front of police and Israeli soldiers.

 Palestinians report that on May 16, around 8:30 AM, settlers present in the Huwara town square for a demonstration against an arrest warrant for one of their friends, threw stones at three vehicles carrying passengers. One driver reported he had been injured and required a hospital visit, that the vehicles were damaged, and that the soldiers and police present did not make an effort to prevent the attack.

May 10th 2017, Burin

A series of documentation shows security forces mishandling and ignoring stone throwing by extremist settlers

On Wednesday May 10 2017, both settlers and Palestinians went to the scene of a fire below the Givat Ronen outpost on the edge of an olive grove belonging to Palestinians from Burin. The source of the fire is not clear, but it spread in several directions. The settlers began to extinguish the flames approaching the outpost, while the Palestinians came to put out the flames heading towards their olive trees. There were allegations of stone throwing by a Palestinian youth, and claims and video documentation indicate widespread stone throwing by extremist settlers. The response of the security forces?  Arrest a Palestinian youth (documented below)

A spate of stone-throwing starting at 19 seconds (video below) shows masked settlers, apparently very close to the houses of the village of Burin. Soldiers who arrive at the scene seem to be approaching slowly and relatively indifferent to the events, and according to their language they seem to be scolding the settlers to move away but are not acting quickly or urgently and are making no effort to prevent the throwing of stones. It is also important to note that once the settlers put out the fire threatening them, they threw stones at the Palestinians causing them difficulty in their attempts to extinguish the fire threatening their groves.


Two groups of settlers and Palestinians, some of them masked, face each other near the fire. The settlers [further up the hill] throw stones [1.04-1.06] but the soldiers ignore it. On the other hand, a soldier shoots at the beginning of the video in the air towards the Palestinians in order to disperse them. Soldiers also deny access to a Palestinian farmer who wants to extinguish a fire approaching his orchard. Video here.

HAARETZ: Israeli soldiers caught on tape looking on as settlers throw stones at Palestinians

Also see footage by Yesh Din

May 7 2017, Turmus Aya

Settler theatens RHR worker with rifle near soldiers

On May 7th,  an armed settler loaded his rifle and aimed its barrel at the chest of the Rabbis for Human Rights’ Palestinian field coordinator Zakaria Sadeh.  Zakaria had been nonviolently documenting Palestinians protesting settlers illegally paving a road on private Palestinian land. Additionally, a soldier snatched Zakaria’s cell phone, which fell and cracked.

The Palestinians were protesting  the settlers paving a road on private Palestinian land despite an order from the Israel’s Civil Administration to stop the work. The soldiers present acted in contradiction to the orders of the Civil Administration, the Israeli body responsible for planning and building in this area. Instead of ordering the settlers to stop paving the road, the soldiers, with the help of armed settlers, violently dispersed the Palestinians. Only after talks with the Civil Administration was the work — which could have destroyed agricultural fields — finally stopped.

Over and over again we see instances where those who are supposed to follow the law instead sink to violence and threats. In this case, it was a threat to Zakaria’s life by means of a rifle. Even in the rare case where the Civil Administration acts to protect the private land of Palestinians, the soldiers on the ground do not carry out the orders and the justified protest of Palestinians is suppressed.

Full post and additional information

April 29 2017, Urif

On Saturday April 29 2017 extremist settlers attacked the Palestinian village of Urif in the northern West Bank. Munir Suliman, age 55, was hospitalised at Rafidia in Nablus with two fractured legs after being beaten by the extremist settlers with metal clubs. The settlers claim their attack followed the intentional setting of a fire by Palestinians near the settlement. Whether this is true or not, there is no justification for an random attack on the village. According to Palestinian residents’ claims, the military did not prevent a group of extremist settlers from descending into the village, which was apparently targeted for assault. The video footage below was filmed in Urif by resident Adal al-Amar.

Please note, just one week ago, extremists attacked Urif just last week, smashing car windows and vandalising homes.

Full post and additional documentation


April 22 2017, Urif and Huwara 

Three Palestinians were wounded in Huwara, two in the head and one in the hand, by roaming groups of extremist settlers.

Among the injured is a 70 year old Badia Auda (photo below), who was admitted to the Rafidia hospital in Nablus with a concussion and a fractured skull. Additionally, the village of Urif was attacked three times during the day by extremists who smashed car windows and vandalised houses. The Palestinians responded by throwing stones and one Palestinian was slightly injured by a rubber bullet fired by the army in response. Palestinians assert that the army did not function properly to protect the village from attackers and that the soldiers stood idly by among masked settlers at the scene of the attack, while no effort was made to detain any of the attackers.

70 yr old woman Huwara

It’s important to remember this attack and others like it occur under a military regime where security policy discriminates between groups based on ethnicty. The security measures offered to Palestinians pale in comparison to the measures taken to secure outposts and settlements.

Full post and additional information

Ynet News: Settlers attack IDF forces with stones; officer injured

Times of Israel: Clashes erupt after settlers said to attack Palestinian homes in West Bank

UPDATE: Following this publication, journalist Yotam Berger of Haaretz reported on nine recent incidents captured on film in two months, none of which led to an arrest. Full article here.

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