Read Palestine! Book Clubs

The Read Palestine! project, supported by Madison Rafah Sister City Project, is hosting book clubs for 4th – 12th graders. Please fill out this form if you’re interested in participating. Meeting times, format and next books to read will be decided by the group once it has formed. Different grade levels will read different books:

4th-5th: Farah Rocks Summer Break by Susan Muaddi Darraj
6th-8th: Ida in the Middle by Nora Lester Murad
9th-12th: They Called Me Lioness by Ahed Tamimi and Dena Takruri

Israel must end its occupation of Palestine to stop apartheid and human rights violations


Palestinians riding on a cart are refected on a mirror in the shape of the map of Palestine in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip on February 7, 2024 amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant Hamas group.
Palestinians riding on a cart are refected on a mirror in the shape of the map of Palestine in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip on February 7, 2024 amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant Hamas group. ©MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

Israel must end its brutal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which it has maintained since 1967, said Amnesty International, as public hearings begin at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to examine the legal consequences of Israel’s prolonged occupation.

The public hearings are taking place in the Hague from 19 to 26 February after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2022 to request an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the legality of Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and the consequences of Israel’s conduct for other states and the UN. More than 50 states, the African Union, the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation are scheduled to participate in the proceedings.

The world must recognize that ending Israel’s illegal occupation is a prerequisite to stopping the recurrent human rights violations in Israel and the OPT.

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

“Israel’s occupation of Palestine is the longest and one of the most deadly military occupations in the world. For decades it has been characterised by widespread and systematic human rights violations against Palestinians. The occupation has also enabled and entrenched Israel’s system of apartheid imposed on Palestinians,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“Over the years, Israel’s military occupation has evolved into a perpetual occupation in flagrant violation of international law.


“The current conflict raging in the occupied Gaza Strip, where the ICJ has ruled there is a real and imminent risk of genocide, has brought into sharp focus the catastrophic consequences of allowing Israel’s international crimes in the OPT to continue with impunity for so long. The world must recognize that ending Israel’s illegal occupation is a prerequisite to stopping the recurrent human rights violations in Israel and the OPT.”

‘Perpetual’ occupation

Under international humanitarian law, occupation of a territory during a conflict is meant to be temporary. The occupying power is required to administer the territory in the interest of the occupied population and to preserve as much as possible the situation that existed at the beginning of the occupation, including by respecting existing laws and refraining from introducing demographic changes and tampering with the territorial integrity of the occupied territory.

A Palestinian woman stands with others (not pictured) as they gather near an Israeli army checkpoint as they wait to reach their olives fields on the other side of Israel’s separation barrier (background) after they received an special Israeli permission to harvest their olive trees, on October 13, 2021 near Bait A’wa village on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Hebron. ©HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images

Israel’s occupation has failed to align with these basic principles of international humanitarian law. The duration of Israel’s occupation – spanning more than half a century – coupled with the authorities’ illegal official annexation of occupied East Jerusalem and de facto annexation of large swathes of the West Bank through land confiscation and settlement expansion, provide clear evidence that Israel’s intention is for the occupation to be permanent and for the benefit of the occupying power and its own citizens.

The Gaza Strip remains occupied even after the withdrawal of Israeli forces and removal of settlers in 2005 as Israel has retained effective control over the territory and its population, including through its control of its borders, territorial waters, air space, and population registry. For 16 years, the occupation has been experienced in Gaza through Israel’s illegal blockade that has severely restricted movement of people and goods and has devastated Gaza’s economy, and through repeated episodes of hostilities that have killed and injured thousands of civilians and destroyed much of Gaza’s infrastructure and housing.

“All states must review their relations with Israel to ensure that they are not contributing to sustaining the occupation or the system of apartheid. As European foreign ministers gather in Brussels today, the need to make a clear and united call for an end to Israel’s occupation has never been more urgent,” said Agnès Callamard.

Life under occupation

Palestinians living under Israeli occupation are subjected to a myriad of human rights violations, maintained by an institutionalized regime of systematic domination and oppression. The discriminatory and repressive laws, ostensibly adopted as part of the occupation but effectively serving the objectives of the Israel’s system of apartheid, have fragmented and segregated Palestinians across the OPT, while unlawfully exploiting their resources, arbitrarily restricting their rights and freedoms and controlling almost every aspect of their lives.

Even before the latest hostilities, Palestinians in Gaza had been subjected to numerous Israeli military offensives – at least six between 2008 and 2023 – in addition to an enduring land, air, and sea blockade, which has helped maintain Israel’s effective control and occupation of Gaza. During those offensives, Amnesty International documented a recurrent pattern of unlawful attacks, amounting to war crimes and even crimes against humanity, while the enduring blockade constitutes collective punishment, also a war crime.

For 56 years Palestinians in the OPT have been living trapped and oppressed under Israel’s brutal occupation, subjected to systemic discrimination.

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

In the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinians routinely face excessive use of force, unlawful killings, arbitrary arrest, administrative detention, forced displacement, home demolitions, confiscation of land and natural resources, and denial of fundamental rights and freedoms. Israel’s multi-layered closure system, fortified by mass surveillance, physical barriers and legal restrictions, including an illegal wall/fence, hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks, and an arbitrary permit regime, has curtailed Palestinians’ freedom of movement and perpetuated their disenfranchisement.

Among the most emblematic examples of Israel’s outright disregard for international law has been the establishment and incessant spread of Israeli settlements throughout the OPT and the illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem immediately after the 1967 war which was constitutionally enshrined in 1980. There are currently at least 300 illegal Israeli settlements and outposts in the West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem, with a population of over 700,000 Israeli settlers.

Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem were holding peaceful demonstrations against the imminent forcible eviction on four Palestinian families. Demonstrators were met with excessive and unnecessary force. 5-9 May, 2021. ©Private

“For 56 years Palestinians in the OPT have been living trapped and oppressed under Israel’s brutal occupation, subjected to systemic discrimination. Every aspect of their daily lives is disrupted and controlled by Israeli authorities, who place restrictions on their rights to move around, earn a living, pursue educational and professional aspirations, and enjoy a decent quality of life, as well as depriving them of access to their land and natural resources,” said Agnès Callamard.

“Israel has also continued its vicious land grab policies relentlessly expanding illegal settlements in violation of international law with devastating consequences for Palestinians’ human rights and security. Violent Israeli settlers have been attacking Palestinians for decades with virtually total impunity.”

A draconian system of control

Israel’s draconian system of control over the OPT includes a large network of military checkpoints, fences/ walls and military bases and patrols as well as a string of repressive military orders.

Israel’s control of the OPT’s borders, the population registry, the supply of water, electricity, telecommunication services, humanitarian and development assistance, and the imposition of its currency have had devastating effects on the economic and social developments of the Palestinian people in the OPT.

This control has reached unprecedented levels of cruelty in the Gaza Strip where Israel has maintained a 16-year illegal blockade which has been further tightened since 9 October 2023. The blockade, coupled with Israel’s recurrent military operations have plunged the Gaza Strip into one of the gravest humanitarian and human rights crisis of modern times.

“As the occupying power Israel has an obligation to ensure the protection and welfare of all those residing in the territory it controls. Instead, it has perpetrated gross and systematic human rights violations with impunity. Israel cites the need to maintain security as the reason for its cruel policies. But security can never justify apartheid, illegal annexation and settlements, or war crimes against the protected population. The only way to ensure security for Israelis and Palestinians is to uphold human rights for all,” said Agnès Callamard.

Palestinian emergency services and local citizens search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip on October 19, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. Gazans are evacuating to the south as advised by the Israeli government, ahead of an expected Israeli ground offensive. ©Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

Ending the occupation would mean restoring Palestinians’ rights by lifting the brutal blockade on Gaza, dismantling Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and reversing its illegal annexation. It would allow Palestinians to move freely in the areas where they live and allow families separated by different identification legal statuses – such as the Jerusalem residency and West Bank or Gaza Strip – to be reunited. It would alleviate mass suffering and end widescale human rights violations.

It would also contribute to tackling one of the root causes of the recurrent violence and war crimes against Israelis, thus helping to improve human rights protection and secure justice and reparation for victims on all sides.


On 30 December 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/77/247, in which, it requested the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on key questions regarding the legal consequences arising from its prolonged occupation, and settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, how the policies and practices of Israel affect the legal status of the occupation and what legal consequences arise for all states and the UN from this status.

The Court is expected to issue its advisory opinion later this year.

For six decades, Amnesty International has been documenting how Israeli forces have committed grave human rights violations in the OPT with impunity.  In 2022, the organization issued Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity, a report which highlights the entrenched role that Israel’s military and its occupation have had in perpetuating the system of apartheid. Many of the report’s findings and recommendations underline the urgent need for an end to Israel’s occupation to remove the environment that enables the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Boycott Chevron/Texaco/Caltex gas stations worldwide!

BDS movement Calls for a Consumer Boycott of Chevron-branded gas stations

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian coalition that leads the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, calls for escalating campaigning against fossil fuel giant Chevron by engaging in consumer boycotts of Chevron, Texaco, and Caltex gas/petrol stations, in addition to ongoing campaigns to divest from Chevron.

Chevron has been the main international actor extracting fossil gas claimed by Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean since it acquired Noble Energy in 2020. With its extracting activities, Chevron is implicated in Israel’s policy and practice of depriving the Palestinian people of their right to sovereignty over their natural resources. Chevron’s extraction activities generate billions of dollars in revenue for apartheid Israel and its war chest, helping to fund the ongoing genocide against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, as well as its regime of settler-colonialism, apartheid and military occupation. Chevron fuels apartheid and environmental devastation.

The BDS Movement issued a call to boycott both Siemens and Chevron in 2022, with campaigning around Chevron previously focused on divestment. Now, we are calling on supporters of Palestinian rights and climate justice to escalate pressure on Chevron also by boycotting Chevron gas stations and gas stations owned by Chevron, including Texaco and Caltex. There are thousands of Chevron, Texaco, and Caltex gas and petrol stations worldwide.

During the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, a movement to boycott Shell oil for its complicity in apartheid gained worldwide momentum, with supporters taking part in gas/petrol station pickets and major divestment campaigns from the fossil fuel company. Inspired by the South African liberation struggle, the Palestinian-led BDS movement aims to build pressure on Chevron until it no longer conducts business that gravely violates our human rights and benefits Israel’s genocidal apartheid regime.

We reiterate our call upon supporters of Palestinian rights worldwide to build and strengthen intersectional #BoycottChevron partnerships with the climate justice movement and the many communities and Indigenous peoples around the world who are exposing and resisting the colonial violence of Chevron’s extractivism, environmental destruction and grave human rights violations.

We have already seen organizations taking action to escalate pressure on Chevron, including by activists in Houston who protested Chevron’s sponsorship of the Houston marathon, and climate activists in California, who led a protest at Chevron’s Richmond refinery. They also disrupted two Chevron executives’ private events leading up to the protest. Sign their pledge to boycott Chevron, and look out for more information and resources to assist campaigning in the coming weeks and months.

In solidarity,
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)


The nonviolent BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality is supported by the absolute majority in Palestinian society. BDS rejects all forms of racism and racial discrimination.

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February 14, 2024
Launching a year-long Grassroots for Gaza aid campaign

with a Valentines Day to Leap Year Silent Auction

Gaza is now the deadliest place in the world for civilians. The need for massive emergency aid is second only to the need for a permanent ceasefire.

Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) is responding with the Grassroots for Gaza campaign: a year of fundraising for aid to be provided through the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA). MRSCP has already raised over half of the initial goal of $5000 through direct donations. You can learn more and donate at

The campaign launches this Valentine’s day at noon with a Silent Auction opening. A wide variety of Madison businesses, restaurants, and artists have donated items ranging from gift certificates for coffee and fine dining to limited edition artwork and hand-crafted items made by artisans in Madison and Palestine. A local educator has donated an entire year of tutoring for a struggling reader, a local Mennonite author has donated a book, and a talented local baker is offering a dozen feather-light scones baked just for you.

The silent auction is free and open to the public online, and will run until February 29 at 5pm. Although bidding doesn’t open until noon on February 14, items can be viewed at 100% of all proceeds will go immediately to Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) for urgently needed food, shelter, water and medical supplies.

Future Grassroots to Gaza fundraising plans include music events, a bike ride, and a campaign to inspire anyone celebrating a graduation or a birthday, holding a garage sale, or other appropriate event to invite their families, friends and neighbors to donate to the survival of families in Gaza.


For over two decades MRSCP has supported many humanitarian projects in Rafah including water purification systems, mental health resources, a playground, a children’s library, a house reconstruction, and more. Our partner in many of these projects has been MECA.

Since 1988 MECA has worked to protect the rights and improve the lives of children in the Middle East through aid, empowerment and education. MECA provides humanitarian aid, partners with community organizations to run projects for children, and supports income generation projects. Like MRSCP, MECA also raises awareness about the lives of children in the region and encourages meaningful action. Their ongoing presence on the ground in Gaza has allowed them to respond quickly to the present crisis.

Today the people of Gaza face an unprecedented level of death, injury, disease, trauma and destruction of their ability to survive in their own land. Hunger and the lack of safe drinking water in particular has become so severe that the large majority of the population is now facing imminent threat of actual starvation and famine. Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people including babies, children, pregnant women, and the elderly are surviving on one small meal a day or less.

Israel’s ongoing offensive has already killed an estimated 30,000 people, thousands of whom remain buried under the rubble of their homes. 1.7 million people are now homeless, and the medical system has almost completely collapsed. The threat of mass displacement is very real.

Entry of aid is severely restricted, and the only way for aid to reach those in need at the necessary scale is for Israel’s offensive to end. But MECA has kept working on the ground to provide food, winter protection and other critical items. For example, MECA partnered with World Central Kitchen (WCK) to open two large kitchens in southern Gaza to serve 2,000 hot meals per day, and to run smaller kitchens serving 300 meals per day. They have also distributed parcels of WCK-provided beans, lentils, oil, tuna, canned meat and more to families, as well as ready-to-eat nutritional meals to places where cooking is impossible.

This unprecedented humanitarian crisis demands an unprecedented response, and Madison-Rafah Sister City Project invites our fellow citizens to join in making a difference.

Facebook Event:

Instagam post:

Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
Barb Olson,, (608) 843-8417
Cassandra Dixon,, 608-445-0357

Meet the settlers targeted by Biden’s sanctions — and their victims

Palestinians and Israelis who’ve experienced the settlers’ attacks first-hand see the move as a positive but wholly insufficient step toward accountability.

Oren Ziv, +972, February 8, 2024

Einan Tanjil (left) and another settler attack Palestinian farmers and Israeli activists in Surif, occupied West Bank. (Shay Kendler)
Einan Tanjil (left) and another settler attack Palestinian farmers and Israeli activists in Surif, occupied West Bank, Nov. 12, 2021. (Shay Kendler)

In partnership with
After years of toothless verbal condemnation of Israeli settler violence by successive U.S. governments, the Biden administration took the historic step last week of imposing sanctions against four settlers involved in recent attacks in the occupied West Bank. The executive order includes freezing the settlers’ assets in the United States and banning their entry into the country. Israeli banks have also frozen the accounts of two of the settlers on the list in compliance with the U.S. sanctions.

Settler violence has been on the rise for years, with perpetrators very often supported in the act by Israeli soldiers and enjoying near-total impunity in the Israeli justice system. The inauguration of the most far-right government in Israel’s history just over a year ago — with a man once arrested on suspicion of planning an attack becoming overlord of the West Bank, and a man once convicted of support for terrorism becoming national security minister — has further emboldened violent settlers: 2023 saw a sharp escalation in large-scale pogroms, including in Huwara, Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya, Turmus Ayya, and many other locations.

These attacks are succeeding in their state-sanctioned goal of cleansing vast regions of the West Bank of their Palestinian inhabitants to enable the further expansion of Jewish settlements. And the situation has deteriorated even further under the shadow of war, with settlers forcibly displacing at least 16 entire Palestinian villages since October 7.


To try to assess the significance of Biden’s decision, +972 Magazine and Local Call spoke with Palestinians and Israelis who have been directly impacted by the violence of the targeted settlers — David Chai Chasdai, Shalom Zicherman, Einan Tanjil, and Yinon Levi — and their comrades in arms. Most welcomed the executive order but wondered whether it would have any effect on the ground; whether it would deter other settlers; whether sanctions would be extended to other settlers involved in the violence; and whether such sanctions would ultimately reach the leadership of the settlement movement, including those sitting in government.

‘These are organized groups that come to kill’

David Chai Chasdai was arrested for leading one of the worst instances of settler violence in recent memory: the pogrom in the Palestinian town of Huwara in February 2023, during which hundreds of settlers set fire to dozens of homes and hundreds of vehicles, wounding over 100 residents in the process. Sameh Aqtash, from the nearby village of Za’atara, was shot and killed during the attack.

Israeli settlers burn Palestinian homes, vehicles, and businesses during a rampage in the West Bank town of Huwara, Feb. 26, 2023. (Activestills)
Israeli settlers burn Palestinian homes, vehicles, and businesses during a rampage in the West Bank town of Huwara, Feb. 26, 2023. (Activestills)

Chasdai, who lives in the settlement of Beit El, is a familiar figure in the world of the “hilltop youth” — the generic term given to young Israeli settlers who routinely descend from illegal West Bank outposts to attack Palestinians. In 2014, then a teenager, he was described in the settler news outlet Makor Rishon as “the number one target of the Nationalist Crimes Division in the Judea and Samaria [police] district and one of the names that causes the greatest headaches for members of the Jewish Unit of the Shin Bet.”

In 2015, Chasdai was convicted of intent to unlawfully use hazardous materials after bottles filled with gasoline and other flammable substances were found in his car. Two years later, he was convicted of aggravated assault for attacking a Palestinian taxi driver with tear gas. In 2021, he was convicted of threatening a police officer.

Chasdai was one of only 18 settlers arrested after the Huwara pogrom (only one of whom was charged). He was soon released but then re-arrested and placed into three months of administrative detention — a tool Israel uses almost exclusively against Palestinians to detain whomever it wants without charge or trial. 50 Knesset members signed a call for his release.

“It’s a symbolic measure,” a resident of Huwara from the Awwad family, who asked that his first name not be published for fear of settler reprisal, told +972. “America says, ‘We also watch what’s going on in the [occupied] territories. It helps a little that the Israeli government knows that the Palestinians have good relations with the U.S. and are giving them material about what the settlers are doing.”

Awwad believes that although the sanctions are a good start, they are not nearly enough to deter settler violence. “It’s not just Huwara — it’s everywhere in the West Bank,” he said. “Settlers walking around in military uniforms and with weapons. These are not people who just shoot and run. These are organized groups that come to kill, and America should declare them terrorist organizations. They are part of the right [wing], and the right wing is responsible for them: it gives them orders, gives them lawyers and money, and supports their criminal behavior.”

Palestinian residents of Huwara walk among their burned homes, cars, and businesses the morning after Israeli settlers rampaged through their town in the West Bank, Feb. 27, 2023. (Oren Ziv)
Palestinian residents of Huwara walk among their burned homes, cars, and businesses the morning after Israeli settlers rampaged through their town in the West Bank, Feb. 27, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

Awwad also questions the effectiveness of this initial package of sanctions, as these settlers likely do not regularly — if ever — travel to the United States, and they almost certainly do not have American bank accounts. “We need the sanctions to be here,” he says. “The ones who need to act against the settlers are the government and the law enforcement authorities in Israel. Only if this happens will they begin to be afraid.

“The problem is that the government here doesn’t want to act against them,” Awwad continued. “The settlers are part of the government, so the government doesn’t want to deal with them because they’re afraid that the coalition will fall.”

Chasdai himself responded to the freezing of his bank accounts, telling Israel’s public broadcaster Kan that it was a “national disgrace,” all the more so because it took place under a right-wing government. “Throughout the generations we have seen many oppressors who have harmed the people of Israel,” Chasdai said. “We will also get through the persecution of Biden and his collaborators.”

‘It’s convenient to blame the small fish’

Another settler on Biden’s list is Shalom Zicherman, a resident of the Mitzpe Yair outpost. In June 2022, he threw stones through the window of a car belonging to left-wing Israeli activists. I was present at the scene and documented the attack, after which Zicherman was able to return to the outpost, despite the fact that the army’s Judea Area Brigade Commander Col. Yehuda Rosilio saw the attack and did nothing to stop or detain him. The IDF Spokesperson initially described the incident as “friction between settlers and protesters,” but Zicherman was later indicted, and his trial is ongoing.

The U.S. State Department notes that “according to video evidence, [Zicherman] assaulted Israeli activists and their vehicles in the West Bank, blocking them on the street, and attempted to break the windows of passing vehicles with activists inside. Zicherman cornered at least two of the activists and injured both.”

An Israeli settler throws a stone at the window of a car containing three left-wing Israeli activists, as another settler blocks their exit, outside the Mitzpe Yair outpost, occupied West Bank, June 10, 2022. (Oren Ziv)
Israeli settler Shalom Zicherman throws a stone at the window of a car containing three left-wing Israeli activists, as another settler blocks their exit, outside the Mitzpe Yair outpost, occupied West Bank, June 10, 2022. (Oren Ziv)

According to the order, Zicherman and another settler “directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in planning, ordering, otherwise directing, or participating in efforts to place civilians in reasonable fear of violence with the purpose or effect of necessitating a change of residence to avoid such violence, affecting the West Bank.”

Yasmin Eran Vardi, a left-wing activist who spends most of her time in the West Bank doing “protect presence” solidarity work — whereby Israeli and international activists put their bodies in between Palestinians on the one hand and settlers and soldiers on the other — was wounded in the attack. “I’m in favor of sanctions being imposed, but these sanctions don’t mean a lot,” she told +972. “It’s clear that these four [settlers] did bad things, but there is a whole policy here that allows them to do whatever they want, under the auspices of the army and the government, all with American funding.”

Like Awwad, Eran Vardi wondered whether these sanctions would effectively deter other settlers, or whether they would even deter the four who were themselves sanctioned. “The question is whether anything will change, even a little,” she said.

Eran Vardi wants to see more significant sanctions, but she has no expectation that the U.S. will impose them. “These sanctions demonstrate Biden’s full cooperation with Israel’s needs,” she said. “It’s convenient to blame the small fish, especially because [the settlers] hurt Israeli citizens. Biden could stop funding the killing in Gaza if he wanted to.”

‘Why focus specifically on those who harmed Israelis?’

Einan Tanjil, a third settler named in Biden’s executive order, was documented in November 2021 attacking Palestinian farmers and Israeli activists who came to harvest olives in the village of Surif. The order states that Tanjil “was involved in assaulting Palestinian farmers and Israeli activists by attacking them with stones and clubs, resulting in wounds that required medical treatment.”

Israeli settlers assaulting Palestinian residents and solidarity activists during an attack on an olive harvest in the town of Surif, South Hebron Hills, occupied West Bank, Nov. 12, 2021. (Shay Kendler)
Israeli settlers assaulting Palestinian residents and solidarity activists during an attack on an olive harvest in the town of Surif, South Hebron Hills, occupied West Bank, Nov. 12, 2021. (Shay Kendler)

+972 and Local Call reported at the time that masked settlers descended from nearby outposts and, using stones and clubs, wounded at least three Israeli activists who subsequently needed medical treatment, including the veteran activist Rabbi Arik Asherman. Tanjil was charged with assault and causing bodily harm.

Netta Ben Porat, an Israeli human rights activist, was wounded during the incident. “There were eight of us Israelis,” she recounted. “Einan and his friend attacked us with clubs, and another activist stood between me and them, and then he beat me.

“He was only charged with assault, not even aggravated assault or politically-driven assault [which would carry a more severe punishment],” Ben Porat continued. “They omitted that he attacked more people. The indictment does not clarify why he attacked us. He claimed self-defense, even though I was standing to the side and filming while he hit me.”

To Ben Porat, the sanctions appear “ridiculous.” “Out of all [the settlers], the one the U.S. imposes sanctions on is a 19-year-old who attacked Israelis once or twice? It’s irrelevant,” she said. “They could have tried a little harder — what about the military security coordinator who was armed and who brought the settlers [to where we were] and watched from above [as they attacked us]? Or the farmers responsible for expelling entire communities? If the problem is settler violence and its impact on Palestinians, then why focus specifically on those who harmed Israelis?

“Maybe this is a harbinger of things to come,” she continued. “I hope this is a first step, that sanctions will be imposed on [Bezalel] Smotrich and [prominent settler leader] Yossi Dagan.”

‘We hope this will help us return to our lands’

The final settler targeted by the sanctions is Yinon Levi, who helped found the Meitarim Farm outpost. According to Kerem Navot, an NGO that tracks the dispossession of Palestinian land, Levi owns an earthworks company that has been hired by state authorities to carry out demolition orders in Palestinian villages in the West Bank.

Last November, violence emanating from Meitarim Farm led to the expulsion of the Palestinian community of Khirbet Zanuta — 27 families, totalling around 250 people — from their homes near the Meitar checkpoint in the southern West Bank. At the beginning of the war, Levi’s company also blocked roads leading to the entrance of the Palestinian village of Susiya — an apparent attempt to intimidate the village residents.

Palestinian residents of Khirbet Zanuta pack their belongings and house materials as they flee their homes following a spike in Israeli settler violence during the Gaza war, West Bank, November 1, 2023. (Oren Ziv)
Palestinian residents of Khirbet Zanuta pack their belongings and house materials as they flee their homes following a spike in Israeli settler violence during the Gaza war, West Bank, November 1, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

A petition filed on behalf of the Palestinians expelled from Zanuta states that Levi headed a group of settlers who, accompanied by two soldiers, came to the village on Oct. 12, beat village residents, threatened to kill them, smashed solar panels, and destroyed a car. According to the petition, Levi drove a bulldozer and “began extensive and massive demolitions of buildings, infrastructure, olive trees, and other agricultural crops belonging to the villagers.”

Levi differs slightly from the other three settlers on the American list in that he is not merely a hilltop youth activist, but rather the leader of a settler farm. In recent years, dozens of such farms have been established in the West Bank, and they are at the heart of the effort to expel Palestinians from their land. Although most of them were not established legally, they receive government support and protection from the military.

“I didn’t believe this would happen,” Fayez al-Tal, the leader of Khirbet Zanuta, told +972 in response to the announcement of sanctions against Levi. “We read the decision and were overjoyed. Yinon Levi is in charge of the outpost: he is one of the people who came at the beginning of the war and threatened us. We hope this will help us in our lawsuit requesting to return to our lands, and we hope that the court will see that the Americans are imposing sanctions. But Israel is not doing anything.”

According to al-Tal, it is important to remember the broader context of settler violence: “The settlers don’t do it alone. They serve the government, and the police do nothing when they attack us. They know that no law applies to them. They are not afraid of anything. The Americans can’t say a word about Gaza, because Hamas is there — but there is no Hamas here, so they can ask why there are violent attacks by settlers.”

Like other interviewees, al-Tal hopes that the order will later be extended to other settlers, including Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, and that “the U.S. Consulate and Embassy will pressure the Civil Administration or the police to prevent the attacks and bring us back to our land.”

+972 and Local Call contacted Chasdai’s lawyer, but he did not respond. We also contacted Levi, but he didn’t respond. Levi told other media outlets that the accusations leveled against him are “false.” Tanjil’s lawyer referred us to the Honenu legal organization, which said that it does not represent him on the issue of U.S. sanctions. Zicherman could not be reached for comment.

A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Oren Ziv

Oren Ziv is a photojournalist, reporter for Local Call, and a founding member of the Activestills photography collective.

Our team has been devastated by the horrific events of this latest war – the atrocities committed by Hamas in Israel and the massive retaliatory Israeli attacks on Gaza. Our hearts are with all the people and communities facing violence.

We are in an extraordinarily dangerous era in Israel-Palestine. The bloodshed unleashed by these events has reached extreme levels of brutality and threatens to engulf the entire region. Hamas’ murderous assault in southern Israel has devastated and shocked the country to its core. Israel’s retaliatory bombing of Gaza is wreaking destruction on the already besieged strip and killing a ballooning number of civilians. Emboldened settlers in the West Bank, backed by the army, are seizing the opportunity to escalate their attacks on Palestinians.

This escalation has a very clear context, one that +972 has spent the past 13 years covering: Israeli society’s growing racism and militarism, the entrenched occupation, and an increasingly normalized siege on Gaza.

We are well positioned to cover this perilous moment – but we need your help to do it. This terrible period will challenge the humanity of all of those working for a better future in this land. Palestinians and Israelis are already organizing and strategizing to put up the fight of their lives.

Can we count on your support? +972 Magazine is the leading media voice of this movement, a desperately needed platform where Palestinian and Israeli journalists and activists can report on and analyze what is happening, guided by humanism, equality, and justice. Join us.

February 9, 2024
Lights Up for Palestine! Law Park

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February 8, 2024
Rami Khouri on WORT Radio

The War on Gaza and Beyond 
12 noon – 1 pm
Join host Allen Ruff for a live conversation with Rami Khouri, Middle East analyst and Distinguished Fellow at the American University of Beirut.

With Israel’s horrific war of attrition against the entire population of Gaza showing no signs of ending, the US last Friday escalated its direct military involvement in the region as its war planes carried out air strikes on more than 85 targets at different locations in Syria and Iraq.

So how are we get some deeper understanding, beyond that provided by US government spokespeople and mainstream US “news” coverage? Join us as Rami Khouri shares his perspectives and provides some context for the current situation.

February 8, 2024
Gaza Poet Yahya Ashour at UW-Madison

Yahya Ashour is an emerging poet known for his profound and moving reflections on the human experience, particularly the challenges faced by Palestinians of Gaza. His unique perspective as a Palestinian poet adds depth and authenticity to the discourse surrounding the complexities of the Middle East.

Yahya arrived in the United States in September 2023 and, unfortunately, is unable to return to his home in Gaza due to current circumstances. You can read his poems here and check out his instagram account here.

If you plan to attend the meal after the talk, please RSVP here. You will need to sign in with Google.