Burin – Settlers’ violence

We are outside the area just declared closed military zone, looking at the soldiers on the other side of the road, to control that Abu Salem can continue to pick olives from his olive grove.

Suddenly a loud noise comes from behind us. I turn around. I don’t have time to realize that the sound I’ve just heard is a shot, that I start to run following the others. We rush inside the car which starts to speed in the streets of the village of Burin. When it starts to slow down, we jump outside the car which is still with the engine turn on.

We enter in the olive grove and run towards the screams coming from the top of the hill. I don’t know where I am, toward what I’m running, I don’t know what to expect but I continue to run. We see some guys “Go away! They have guns!”. We look at each other and keep running.
Then we see them, in front of us, fifteen settlers. I get stuck. They are there, just up to me, lined up, one near the other, throwing stones at the owners of the land, like a war machine.

I hear my name shouted, and I return to reality. I don’t know what to do, where I have to go. I continue to look around me until I see two Palestinians alone on my left. I decide to reach them. In the piece of the land that divides us from the settlers, a fire blazes and the black smoke starts to cover entirely our sight. It’s all confused, I can’t see anything, all are screaming, the stones are falling as a violent rain which passed by us and fall on the ground.

I glimpse a settler pulling out a gun.
We hide behind a bush, but the stones pass through it. I understand at that moment that they don’t want to scare us, they want to harm us.
I run down following the Palestinians, then, between the screams that cover each other. I hear someone shouting my name, and I run toward the friendly voice who is calling me. When I reach the voice, I throw myself to the ground, hidden behind a wall. I feel as I’m falling apart: my legs and my hands are starting to shake, I have the nausea, my eyes fill with tears, the breath become labored and the heart is beating fast.
I'd like only to cuddle up myself on the ground and cry. I'd like to scream and free myself from this fear that is paralyzing me. I'd like to close my eyes and wake up from this nightmare because what I’m living can’t be real.
We hear a shoot and we squeeze on the ground even more. More hidden there is a settler who shoots at the group of Palestinians just up to us, with something that seems a sniper rifle. I see the group disperse between the trees and I notice a friendly face among them.
There is another shot and I feel my blood freezes in the veins. I scream his name with a voice that I don’t recognize. I’m terrified, I feel the fear inside every part of my body. The shots continue and I keep screaming his name until he reaches me.
I don’t know the war, I don’t know what it means to be afraid for my life and the life of the others –friends and not friends-, to think that someone can be harmed or killed in front of me. I don’t know the feeling, but today, I think that I’ve understood a little bit more.

In the West Bank, violent attacks by settlers against Palestinians are commonplace. Settlers’ violence is part of the strategy of the expropriation policy of Palestinian lands, for the benefit of the Israeli control expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The protection, in terms of fiscal facilities, investments, connivance, lack of investigation, and cover-up, that Israel gives to the settlers, push them to be even more violent in perpetrating attacks against Palestinians.

Some of the most violent settlements are in the area of Nablus. Here, there is the settlement of Yitzhar and its eight outposts: the outpost of Giv’at Ronin, the settlement of Har Brakha, and the settlement of Itamar, strongholds of the right-wing nationalist. The frequency and the level of violence of the attacks by these settlers have completely destroyed the life of the Palestinian communities of the area.