By Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Releases, 24 November 2014
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the Israeli settlers‘ ongoing and escalated attacks on Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. The latest of these attacks has been against a house belonging to a Palestinian woman in Kherbet Abu Falah village, northeast of Ramallah, and throwing a tear gas canister and a sound bomb into the house balcony, due to which the balcony contents caught fire. PCHR believes the Israeli forces‘ cover-up of settlers‘ attacks and even support and protection for them encourage settlers to continue their systematic attacks against the Palestinian civilians. PCHR believes further that such crimes come in the context of the continuing incitement by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. As a result, settlers have been pushed towards more extremism and hatred against Palestinians. PCHR condemns these attacks, the Israeli government’s silence and even support for them. Moreover, PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately take an action to protect the Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, in the early morning on Sunday, 23 November 2014, a group of settlers sneaked into Kherbet Abu Falah village, northeast of Ramallah. They headed towards a house belonging to Huda Abdul Ghani Abdul Rahim Hamayel (54) and tried to raid it. They broke the balcony’s window, spilled an incendiary substance inside and set fire to the balcony’s contents after throwing a tear gas canister and a sound bomb inside. The armchairs, chairs, curtains and other furniture pieces in the balcony caught fire. The settlers wrote on the house walls in Hebrew „Death to Arabs, avenging the blood of religious Jews“. They also drew David Star, pointing to the Jews who were killed by a Palestinian from Jerusalem in occupied Jerusalem inside a synagogue 5 days before this attack. It should be noted that it is the first time that settlers use tear gas canisters and sound bombs in their attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property in the oPt.
Hamayel stated to a PCHR fieldworker:
„I was with my 3 daughters aged 11-27 in our house in al-Sha’ab neighborhood in the north of Kherbet Abu Falah, northeast of Ramallah. At approximately 03:30 on Sunday, 23 November 2014, we woke up to a strange movement behind the house from the western side. I thought there were thieves or Israeli soldiers around. I immediately switched the lights on and then heard as if someone was climbing the outer stairs. In the meanwhile, I heard something had hit the balcony’s door and broken the balcony’s window. I noticed someone was attempting to open the inner steel door. I tried to know who those people were, but nobody answered. My daughters and I started screaming and calling neighbors and relatives for help. A minute later, I heard people talking in Hebrew and then throwing a sound bomb inside the balcony, due to which, we heard an explosion and were frightened. Moreover, they threw a gas cansiter and then a Molotov cocktail and ran away to the mountain area towards „Adi Add“ settlement outpost, which is 3 kilometers away from us. The armchairs, chairs, curtains and other furniture pieces in the balcony caught fire. In the meantime, neighbors arrived to extinguish fire. Forty minutes later, a Palestinian civil defense vehicle arrived and extinguished fire. We got out of the house and noticed writings in Hebrew and David Star on the walls. The writings stated „Death to Arabs, avenging the blood of the religious Jews“. At approximately 07:00, Israeli forces and police came and photographed the house. They took my statement regarding what had happened and seized some items used by the settlers in the balcony. At approximately 11:00, the Israeli police and liaison officers came again and asked me to go to the police station in „Beit Eil“ at 13:00 to file a complaint“.
PCHR, which has been warning against the Israeli settlers‘ attacks on Palestinian civilians and their property, strongly condemns such attacks and the government’s silence towards them. Therefore, PCHR:
- Calls upon Israeli forces to stop offering protection to settlers and covering up their crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property, which encourage them to continue their attacks. PCHR calls also upon the Israeli government to prosecute the criminals and bring them to justice;
- Calls upon the international community to exert pressure on the Israeli government in order to fulfill its obligations under international law to put an end to settlement activities in the oPt; and
- Reminds the international community that settlement activities constitute a war crime according to international law. Therefore, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, individually and collectively, are legally and morally responsible for fulfilling their obligations and ensuring Israel’s respect to and application of the Convention in the oPt according to article 1 of the Convention.