‘Who hits a 64-year-old woman with a bat?’

Cassandra Auren, an American peace activist, was visiting the Palestinian village of Tuba when settlers attacked her with a bat and fractured her skull.

Yuval Abraham, +972 Magazine, March 13, 2023

Cassandra Auren seen following a settler attack in the village of Tuba in the South Hebron Hills, West Bank, March 7, 2023.Cassandra Auren seen following a settler attack in the village of Tuba in the South Hebron Hills, West Bank, March 7, 2023.

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A 64-year-old American citizen was attacked last Tuesday by a group of masked settlers in the South Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank. Cassandra Auren, a peace activist from Wisconsin, was standing with an Italian activist on land that belongs to the residents of the Palestinian village Tuba, when a group of settlers from a nearby outpost, Havat Ma’on, ran toward them. Auren said that one of the attackers stood behind her, and as she was turning to face him, he hit her in the head with a weapon that she described as looking “like a baseball bat.” She immediately passed out from the blow and was hospitalized with a fractured skull and internal bleeding in her head.

Tuba is an unrecognized village in the Masafer Yatta region of the South Hebron Hills. Like other villages in the area, it is slated for demolition, and its residents, who suffer routinely from harassment by settlers and soldiers, are prevented from building or using infrastructure. Long before the demolition and expulsion orders were issued, and green lit by the Supreme Court, residents were routinely denied building permits and any ability to develop the hamlet. Residents also report that, in recent weeks, settlers from Havat Ma’on have been coming to the village to graze their sheep on Palestinian land, destroying the village crops.

Auren said she came to Masafar Yetta out of a sense of responsibility. “[The United States] sends so much support money to Israel,” she explained, “but without knowing how it is being used to violently push Palestinians from their land. This is money that the U.S. gives with no parameters.”

Auren contacted the U.S. Embassy about the incident, which confirmed to +972 that an American citizen had been attacked near Tuba, and that the Embassy was providing her with assistance. “These settlers come and hit a 64-year-old woman from Wisconsin with a big bat. Who does that?” she said during our conversation. “And in a place where people live, so close to the village. If this had been my home, [it would be as if the attack was] occurring in my driveway. It’s shocking to me that that kind of violence happens so close to where someone lives. Children have to travel that exact path in order to get to their school.”

Cassandra Oren. (Courtesy)Cassandra Auren.

“I have tended to this land with my family ever since I was a child,” said Ali Awad, a local resident, +972 contributor, and one of the victims of the settler attacks. “This is my grandfather’s land. We have never faced anything like this. Suddenly these settlers are coming. They are a group of shepherds from Havat Ma’on who for three weeks have been coming in every day with their flock to destroy our agriculture.”

Israeli authorities have yet to make any arrests for the assault. A police spokesperson told +972 that the police opened an investigation, which is still ongoing. According to Yesh Din, an anti-occupation organization that monitors settler violence in the West Bank, between 2005-2022, police closed 92 percent of cases of settler attacks on Palestinians without filing any indictments.

Correction: An original version of this article used a misspelling of Cassandra Auren’s last name. 

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

The Heartbreak and Defiance of Occupation

WORT 89.9FM Madison

The Heartbreak and Defiance of Occupation

At a 1979 meeting of Israel’s “Ministerial Committee for Settlement Matters in the Judea and Samaria area,” created in 1972 for the purpose of establishing new settlements in the West Bank, chairman of the committee Ariel Sharon said of the “firing zones” he moved to create in 1967, “They were all aimed at a single goal, which was to create the option of Jewish settlement in the area. … These firing zones were seized for a single purpose, which was to be our land reserves for settlement.”

In the 1980s, Israel classified most of Masafer Yatta, an area in the south Hebron Hills, as a closed “firing zone,” Firing Zone 918, for military training purposes.

In 1999 Israeli forces expelled all the residents in Masafer Yatta on the grounds that they were living there “illegally” and were not permanent residents, despite most residents having documents proving their ownership of their lands.

A few months after the expulsion, they were permitted to return “temporarily” after an interim injunction from an Israeli court, as they fought for their right to remain on their lands. They suffered under IDF training, the noise of helicopters and tanks and presence of troops on the ground, disrupted access to grazing areas, destruction of crops, anxiety and fear among children and adults, blocked roads, denial of water and electricity. But they were home.

And then in May 2022, more than 20 years after the case began, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem ruled that the residents of Masafer Yassa could be expelled.

Ali Awad, activist and journalist and resident of the village of Tuba in Masafer Yatta talked to Gil Halsted about what is happening now. Awad write for 972 Magazine and posts often on Instagram as ali_awad98.

Upcoming Events: March 12-16, 2023

Sunday, March 12: WORT interview with Masafer Yatta Activist
Thursday, March 16: Cindy and Craig Corrie on WORT
Thursday, March 16: Tantura Film and Discussion

On Sunday March 12 at 5 pm, tune into WORT’s World View program for a taped interview with Masafer Yatta activist Ali, who will discuss the current situation of Israeli army and settler attacks and Palestinian resistance there.  (The interview will be aired after the news.)

Thursday March 16, 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the killing of Rachel Corrie in Rafah. We continue to mourn her loss and celebrate her life. We will never forget her.

Locally, we invite you to tune in to WORT Radio’s A Public Affair with host Allen Ruff at 12 noon on Thursday March 16, 89.9 FM or listen on line for a live conversation with Rachel’s parents Cindy and Craig. 

A Public Affair with host Allen Ruff
WORT 89.9 FM Madison

Live Interview with Cindy & Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie
Thursday, March 16, 2023 10-11 am PDT; Noon-1pm CDT; 1-2 pm EDT

The Corries will talk with host Allen Ruff about their daughter, 20 years of the Rachel Corrie Foundation, RCF’s kinship with the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, and the foundation’s commitment to Gaza and to Palestinian rights today, as startling events continue to unfold in the region.

The hour-long program can be heard live at the WORT 89.9 FM website here. The program will be archived at the WORT 89.9 website for later listening, as well.

At 9 pm CT on March 16, we also invite you to join a zoom showing and discussion of the new film Tantura, about the 1948 massacre in that village, co-sponsored by the Rachel Corrie Foundation as part of a year-long commemoration. 

Mideast Focus Ministry 10th Annual Film Series
Break the Silence – Stories of Occupation
Tantura: Film & Discussion

Thursday – March 16, 2023, 7 pm PT

Zoom only: Register for a link to this film and discussion by requesting a link at seattlemideastfocus@gmail.com

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Why there are no two sides to the Huwara pogrom

Huwara is not a story of ‘two sides fighting each other.’ It’s the story of a regional superpower that tramples over millions of disenfranchised people.

Nawal Domedi looks at the entrance to her house after it had been burned in a settler pogrom in the Palestinian town of Huwara, West Bank, February 28, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

Haggai Matar, +972 Magazine, March 2, 2023

This article originally appeared in “The Landline,” +972’s weekly newsletter. Subscribe here.

On Sunday morning, a Palestinian man shot dead two Israeli settlers — the young brothers Hillel and Yagel Yaniv — as they drove through the Palestinian town of Huwara in the occupied West Bank. Later that day, hundreds of settlers went on an hours-long rampage through Huwara and several neighboring villages, burning dozens of cars and houses (some with people inside), throwing stones at ambulances, wounding Palestinians, and killing livestock. One Palestinian man, Sameh Aqtash, was shot dead, either by settlers or by soldiers who protected them.

The attack on Huwara, which many are calling a pogrom, has generated a public outcry in Israel against the settlers who committed it. Thousands took to the streets in several cities on Monday night to protest against the occupation and in solidarity with the people of Huwara. Israelis donated over a million shekels within 24 hours to support the victims. News commentators and members of Knesset from the opposition sharply criticized the settlers, the army that did not act to stop them, and senior government ministers who encouraged wiping out the town (one of those ministers, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, doubled down on those messages of ethnic cleansing after the event as well). Political leaders from around the world promptly followed suit. On Wednesday, during the massive “Day of Disruption” protests across the country, demonstrators chanted “Where were you in Huwara?” at police officers.

In response, many on the Israeli right and their lackeys in the hasbara world have argued that it is biased to “only care” about attacks by Jews on Palestinians, and ignore the killing by a Palestinian of the two Israeli brothers. There’s a lot to say in response to that claim, and the following is an attempt to do so, briefly:

1. It is tragic that people are killed. All people. Being human means caring and hurting when lives are lost. That is always true, and certainly in the case of young brothers. My heart goes out to the parents who lost two children in one fell swoop. If that is not clear to anyone, it ought to be, and to claim that people “don’t care” about these deaths is to dehumanize them. The claim is even more outrageous when it comes — as it so often does — from the same politicians who justify Israeli onslaughts against Palestinians and show little or no regret for the deaths of the latter.

2. There is an entire system in place designed to prevent and respond to the killings of Israeli Jews. An army, a police force, a Border Police force, a Shin Bet, even a Mossad if needed, and a whole state built exclusively to protect Jews. Palestinians, on the other hand, have no one to protect them. The army is often either silent in the face of settler terror or joins in and backs it up, as we have shown in the past in the case of joint settler-soldier militias attacking and killing Palestinians.

In rare and extreme cases, as with Huwara this week, soldiers may intervene and rescue Palestinians from their burning homes so they don’t die. Still, those same soldiers would never think to shoot the rioters, as they would have undoubtedly done had they been Palestinian, or even carry out mass arrests; only seven settlers out of the hundreds who participated in the attack were arrested — not for attacking Palestinians, incidentally, but for attacking soldiers — and all of them were quickly released (for the sake of comparison, more than twice that number were arrested in last Saturday’s nonviolent protest against the government in Tel Aviv, and more than four times that number was arrested during the demonstrations on Wednesday).

Even now, three days later, the army continues talking about the “hunt for the terrorist,” i.e. the Palestinian man who shot the Israeli brothers, but no one is talking about the hunt for whoever killed Sameh Aqtash, or for those who set fire to family homes in Huwara. That is why we need to scream out especially loudly against Jewish terrorists.

An Israeli settler tries to attack Palestinians in the town of Huwara a day after the pogrom, February 27, 2023.

An Israeli settler tries to attack Palestinians in Huwara a day after the pogrom, February 27, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

3. There is a difference between actions by individuals from an oppressed group who kill people from the powerful group, and violence from the strong side that is carried out by the state or backed up by it. Pogroms like we saw in Huwara, just like the Israeli Air Force’s bombings in Gaza that wipe out entire families, are not a bug but a feature of the regime that we have created here.

4. Accordingly, our responsibility as Israelis for the actions of other Israelis, from the side that holds all the power, is not the same as our responsibility for the actions of Palestinians.

5. There is something deceptive in framing the story exclusively around the killing of the Israeli brothers in Huwara that morning, as if the settlers’ actions were a mere “response,” a tit-for-tat initiated by Palestinians. Just a few days prior, the Israeli army killed 11 people in Nablus, some armed and several not, in a brutal daylight raid; there’s no reason to “start the clock” only with the Yaniv brothers’ killing. Besides, Palestinians have been denied basic rights under the Israeli regime for decades — but this rarely, if ever, factors into the way these events are framed.

6. Which leads me to my final point: this is not a story of “two sides fighting each other.” There is no equality under apartheid. There is one regional superpower that has one of the strongest and most sophisticated armies in the world, and which enjoys tremendous international support while trampling millions of disenfranchised people under a racist military regime. The ultimate responsibility for everything that happens in this country, including the killing of the brothers, lies with the state that perpetuates this injustice and oppression, and on all of us as its citizens.

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Between army invasions and settler ‘pogroms,’ the West Bank rises

Palestinians inspect the destroyed cars at a scrapyard in the town of Huwara near Nablus in the West Bank on February 27, 2023 after they were torched overnight. Photo by Shadi Jarar’ah/ APA Images

Key Developments (February 20 – 27)

  • 14 Palestinians killed by Israeli violence in the span of the week.
    13 of the casualties were in the Nablus district, with 11 of them taking
    place in one day.
  • 11 Palestinians were killed in a massive Israeli army invasion on Nablus city on February 22. 10 were killed by Israeli army gunfire, while one person, an elderly man, died of tear gas inhalation. Among the dead were seven Palestinian resistance fighters, while four were civilian non-combatants, including three elderly men and a child.
  • One Palestinian, Mohammad Abu Sabbah, 30, from the Jenin refugee camp succumbed to wounds he sustained in an Israeli army raid two weeks prior.
  • On February 24 Israeli settlers attacked the village of Qusra in Nablus, injuring at least two Palestinians with live ammunition. (source: MOH)
  • Two Israeli settlers were killed by an unknown Palestinian gunman in the town of Huwwara, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank on February 26.
  • Israeli settlers launched a ‘pogrom’ on the night of February 26, attacking Palestinian homes and property in Huwwara, Burin, and across the Nablus area, burning homes, cars, vandalizing property, and assaulting Palestinians.
  • One Palestinian was killed during the settler violence in Nablus on the night of February 26. He was identified as Sameh Aqtash, 37, from the Nablus area village of Zaatara. Palestinian media reported that Aqtash was killed during a settler raid on his town, though it was unconfirmed if he was killed by Israeli army or settler gunfire.


The West Bank was under a two-pronged attack last week.

The first was carried out by the Israeli state’s army in a massive military invasion of Nablus that killed 11 Palestinians and injured over 100. The second was carried out by its nominally civilian wing — gangs of colonial settlers that went on a rampage last night in response to a resistance attack that killed two Israeli settlers in Huwwara, just south of Nablus.

The raid on Nablus was one of the bloodiest in recent months, aiming to assassinate wanted resistance fighters from the Lions’ Den, Muhammad Juneidi and Hussam Isleem. Israeli special forces killed them and their comrade, Walid Dakhil, a cousin of one of the co-founders of the group. Four other fighters from armed resistance groups around Nablus were also killed in the fighting, in addition to four bystanders in the city (three elderly men and a teenage boy).

Nablus was in mourning, and the Lions’ Den put out a call asking the people to show their support at midnight, February 23:

“Do no despair and fall into sorrow, we need you all, as you have accustomed us…to take to the streets if you can, to come out in every major square, in every city in the West Bank, Jerusalem, the beloved [Gaza] Strip, and in every refugee camp in the homeland, to hear those who would pledge loyalty to the blood that has been spilled.”

Everyone responded to the call of the Lions’ Den. From Ramallah to Hebron, to Nablus and Jenin, to Bethlehem and its camps and Tulkarm and Jericho, people were out in the thousands at midnight, in a show of mass support unknown to any Palestinian political faction.

Neither Fatah nor any other faction has been able to muster this kind of spontaneous mass support since the First Intifada. Political legitimacy, it has become clear, is not to be found in summit halls and security deals, but rather sprouts from the barrel of a rifle when pointed at the colonizer.

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Global Day of Online Action #EndEthnicCleansing

Palestine is on fire. Since yesterday night, Palestinian villages of Huwara, Burin, Asira Qabliya, Beita, Beit Furiq and Za’atara in South Nablus district have been under full attack by Israeli settlers, supported by their military. Settlers all across the West Bank have attacked people and their lands, burned their homes, streets and cars. Over 100 Palestinians have been injured.

This is part of apartheid Israel’s long term – and now dramatically escalating – strategy to deny Palestinians their very right to exist, destroy their villages and to ethnically cleanse them from their land.

TODAY the UN Human Rights Council starts its sessions. It is time to act NOW.

Israels latest onslaught makes today’s Global Day of Online Action, prepared together with the #EndEthnicCleansing network, ever more urgent.

Please join us to tell the UN it’s time to:

  • Uphold Palestinian rights
  • Stop Israel’s impunity
  • Dismantle Israeli apartheid.

You can find more about how to join below.

United we prevail,
Stop the Wall Campaign, February 27, 2023


Global Day of Online Action

#EndEthnicCleansing #DefendMasaferYatta

Monday February 27


In the occasion of the start of the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the #EndEthnicCleansing network promotes this Global Day of Online Action to:

  • Raise awareness that Israel’s 75 years old ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is intensifying. 
  • Demand concrete international action to end Israel’s impunity, including through sanctions and an end to military and security ties – Let’s tell them that time has run out to deplore and condemn.
  • Call on the UN to comply with its duty to end apartheid and demand it re-activates its mechanisms to fight apartheid.
  • Join boycott and divestment campaigns against bulldozer companies JCB (@JCBmachines), Hyundai Heavy Industries (@HyundaiHeavyInd), Volvo (@VolvoGroup) and other corporations that enable and profit from Israel’s ethnic cleansing.
  • Support Palestinian steadfastness against the ongoing colonization of their land.

The imminent threat of the ethnic cleansing of over 1000 people in 14 villages in Masafer Yatta region is paradigmatic. Unfortunately, it is only one of many places where Palestinians are resisting apartheid Israel’s strategy of expulsion that stretches from the Galilee to the Jordan Valley, spanning almost the entire area C of the occupied West Bank and reaching the Naqab in the south.


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Stop Nora’s Eviction أوقفوا تهجير نورة

Occupied Jerusalem, 2/18/2023

On 6 February 2023, the Israeli occupation’s high court rejected a request from the Ghaith-Sub Laban family to appeal an eviction order issued in March 2022 in favor of an Israeli settler organization. The family’s request for appeal, submitted through their lawyer Mohammad Dahleh, is the last legal intervention possible within the Israeli occupation’s legal system.

This latest decision comes after over 45 years of repeated lawsuits against the family by Israeli occupation and its settlers with the aim of seizing the family’ house that is rented from the Jordanian Government since 1953 under a protected tenancy lease. The High Court’s refusal to intervene means that the elderly couple, Nora Ghaith-Sub Laban (67) and her husband Mustafa (72) will be forcibly removed from their house after 15 March, clearing the way for an Israeli settler organization to seize the property.

The family house, located in Aqabat Al-Khalidiyeh in the Muslim quarter is part of a large building complex, seized by Israeli settlers over the years leaving the Ghaith-Sub Laban family the last Palestinian residents. In 2016, the Israeli high court partially accepted a previous appeal by the family against an earlier eviction order, granting them a partial “remedy of justice” whereby the house would remain with the family for additional ten years until 2026. That partial “remedy of justice” however, also ruled that elderly Nora and husband would be the only tenants, while their sons, daughter and grandchildren would not be permitted to live with them in the same house. Additionally, the settlers were allowed to file a new eviction case against the family two years following the high court ruling in 2016, which is the case that resulted in the current eviction order.

The forced displacement of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family is not an isolated case; several families in the same neighborhood are also facing proceedings initiated by Israeli settlers, in addition to dozens of families in Jerusalem’s Old City, Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods in the occupied city. According to the United Nations’ Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 218 Palestinian families in Jerusalem are under the danger of forced displacement in favor of Israeli settlers, as well as dozens of other properties seized over the years. In the upcoming month, Israeli occupation authorities and courts are finalizing proceedings to prepare for the forced displacement of five other families in occupied East Jerusalem, in addition to the Ghaith-Sub Laban family, including four families in Sheikh Jarrah and Kubaniyet Um-Haron and one family in Batn Al-Hawa in Silwan.

Forced displacement of Palestinians and seizing their houses, along with the house demolitions policy that targets over tens of thousands of Palestinian houses and structures in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, are part of a systemic policy and practice of forcible transfer of Palestinians, settlement expansion and increasing Jewish presence in all the occupied Palestinian territory that Israel has been practicing non-stop since 1948. The aim of these policies is to create a Jewish majority and the slow transfer of Palestinians either through direct forced displacement and destruction of property or through creating a coercive environment that leads to their transfer.

The timing of the high court’s refusal to intervene in the Ghaith-Sub Laban’s case is not coincidental, as Israeli occupation authorities aim to forcibly displace the family before the beginning of the upcoming holy month of Ramadan. It also reflects well the current politicization of the court, as well as the role of the Israeli legal system in facilitating Israel’s expansion, annexation, and oppressive policies against Palestinians under the disguise of justice. Israel’s new government of settlers and extremists has been very vocal about its hatred and racism against Palestinians, and are accelerating measures of forced displacement, demolitions and collective punishment of the entire Palestinian population.

The family reminds Israel, the occupying power, that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory to which the Fourth Geneva Convention applies. The forced displacement and transfer of protected persons is a grave breach of international law and a war crime. The wanton destruction of civilian property is a war crime. The family also reminds the international community of their third state party obligations under the Convention and demands the international community to take all measures necessary to bring to a halt the impending forced displacement and demolitions of Palestinian families and civilian property, in all of the occupied Palestinian territory.

Finally, the family reminds the international community and the United Nations that Israeli measures and policies of systemic forced displacement and destruction of Palestinian property are catalyst for further escalation and violence. There cannot be peace or quiet while Palestinians are being killed displaced and dispossessed and their basic rights are trampled on a daily basis. It is time for justice and accountability.

Ghaith-Sub Laban Family

‘It’s our home! Why would we leave?’

How Palestinians in Masafer Yatta are resisting Israel’s expulsion attempts

Qassam Muaddi, The New Arab, 10 February 2023

In May 2022, the Israeli supreme court ended a 20-year-long legal battle by rejecting a petition, presented by the inhabitants of the 12 villages, against the military declaration of their lands and homes as a ‘firing zone’.

Desert yellow hills extend to the horizon on both sides of a narrow paved road, as thin drops of a light rain shower the front glass of the car. Small groups of dozens of one-story brick houses are scattered along the road, many of them unfinished.

“This is an Israeli road that leads to the settlement chain which separates the firing zone from the rest of the West Bank,” Ali, a 24-year-old local activist explains. “It is one of the few paved roads in this area,” he points out.

The long drive is part of an unusual journey to Masafer Yatta. An agglomeration of 12 Palestinian villages in the southern Hebron hills, extending over some 36 square kilometres.

Visitors arrive at Hebron city, from where public transportation takes them to their last accessible station; the town of Yatta, to the south. From there, locals, often activists, offer a drive to the first village in Masafer Yatta, Twani, already in area ‘C’, under strict, direct military Israeli control.

The car drives the lonely paved road past Twani up a hill, on which the industrial, almost identical houses of Israeli settlers can be seen from a distance. “We will try to reach the firing zone, where local residents are holding a protest right now against illegal Israeli settlement expansion on their lands,” notes Ali. “We hope the Israeli military will let us through their checkpoint,” he says.

Masafer Yatta - Qassam Muaddi
Masafer Yatta, a 36Km2 area in the southern Hebron hills including 12 Palestinian villages was declared a {firing zone by the Israeli army in 1980 [Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

Masafer Yatta has repeatedly made headlines in recent months, mainly because of the ramp-up of Israeli demolitions against Palestinian houses and property. However, The story of Masafer Yatta began more than 40 years ago.

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February 14 Webinar from No Way to Treat a Child

Please join the No Way to Treat a Child campaign for a webinar next week on February 14 at 11 a.m. Central.

We’ll hear how Palestinian children have been impacted by the reign of Israeli aggression across the occupied West Bank this year. Israeli forces have carried out incursions into Palestinian cities and towns almost every night, and eight Palestinian boys have been killed already this year. Join to hear from DCIP staff in Ramallah and learn about our child protection and empowerment work training Palestinian children to know their rights in the face of systematic Israeli military and settler violence.

Sign up for the webinar »

We’ll also share actions you can work on while we await a new Palestinian rights bill in the U.S. Congress. This is a great time to plan your advocacy strategy and learn how you can center the experiences of Palestinian children.

The webinar will be held on Zoom and instructions for joining will be shared with each person who registers. This event will be recorded, so please register even if you cannot attend live and we will send you the recording afterwards.

In solidarity,

Miranda Cleland

Miranda Cleland
Advocacy Officer
Defense for Children International – Palestine

No Way to Treat a Child

2022 was a record year for settler violence. Next year will be even worse.

Palestinians say the worrying trend will only worsen as right-wing extremists make their home in Israel’s new government.


Israeli security forces deploy amid altercations between Jewish settlers on their way to visit the tomb of Othniel ben Kenaz in the area H1 (controlled by Palestinian authorities) and Palestinian residents, in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, on November 19, 2022. (Photo: Mamoun Wazwaz/APA Images)

The violence was indescribable. Something they had never witnessed before. 

That is what the Palestinian residents of Hebron told Mondoweiss days after what they described as a settler “rampage” through their city in mid-November. 

“It was like a sea of settlers, and all of them were filled with hate in their eyes,” Bader al-Tamimi, a local shop owner and municipality worker, told Mondoweiss from the doorway of his souvenir shop in the heart of Hebron’s Old City. 

“There were hundreds, thousands of them, with even more soldiers protecting them, and they just started attacking anything Palestinian – people and shops,”al-Tamimi said. 

Al-Tamimi was describing the events of Saturday, November 19, when tens of thousands of Israeli settlers from around the occupied West Bank gathered in Hebron for the annual march throughout the city in honor of the Torah reading from the Book of Genesis where Abraham purchases a plot of land in Hebron in which to bury his wife, known as ‘Shabbat Chayei Sarah’. 

Israeli security forces deploy amid altercations between Jewish settlers on their way to visit the tomb of Othniel ben Kenaz in the area H1 (controlled by Palestinian authorities) and Palestinian residents, in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, on November 19, 2022. (Photo: Mamoun Wazwaz/APA Images)

The annual march typically draws the most fanatic, right-wing, and religious settlers, who use the event to partake in unbridled attacks against the local Palestinians. 

This year, however, was different. 

“They came out from this gate right here,” al-Tamimi said, pointing to a large steel gate next to an armored military tower covered in Israeli flags. The gate, which sits opposite al-Tamimi’s shop, is one of the entrances to the Israeli-controlled area of the city, where hundreds of extremist Israeli settlers live in the former homes of Palestinians, now Jewish-only settlements. 

Bader al-Tamimi stands outside his shop in the Old City of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank. (Akram al-Waara/Mondoweiss)

“They immediately started throwing things at us and attacking our shops. They tried to break everything and tried to assault us,” al-Tamimi said, referring to himself and his neighboring shopkeeper, who defied Israeli army orders that forced Palestinian shops in the area to shut down for the weekend. 

“When we tried to defend ourselves, the soldiers who were with them started beating us up,” he said, pointing to a bruise on his arm that he said was left after an Israeli soldier hit him with the butt of his rifle. 

“Instead of stopping the settlers, the soldiers attacked us instead and let the settlers continue on their rampage.”

Defiling a mosque, vandalizing shops, assaulting Palestinians

As the hundreds of settlers passed al-Tamimi’s shop, they made their way through the Old City of Hebron, through the clothing and vegetable markets in the heart of the city, before continuing on to the Bab al-Zawiya area of Hebron, which is under control of the Palestinian Authority.