March Updates from Masafer Yatta

Another month has gone by in Masafer Yatta marked by settler and army violence.

On March 3rd settlers have used the recurrent tactic of violently harrassing Palestinian sheperds in Imnezil while grazing with their flocks, chasing them away from their own land while driving a quad. Only two days later, a similar attack took place in the village of Mufagarah and then again in the village of Al Jawaya. Israeli settlers in the West Bank are taking advantage of the atrocious situation in Gaza in order to further escalate the situation in the rest of Palestine and steal more land in the South Hebron Hills and the rest of the West Bank. When these instances take place, the settlers are heavily armed and most often than not, are backed by the army.

An example of the IOF interventions in these situations can be understood with what happened on March 16th, in the village of Susya, where Israeli extremists settlers attacked the residents, including several shepherds. The Israeli Occupation Army backed the settlers as soon as they arrived, by also confiscating a tractor from a farmer. The IOF is also responsible for conducting night raids to constantly harrass the inhabitants of the villages, such as Tuwani; the last of which took place on March 21st.

Moreover, the IOF often helps the settlers by arresting the sheperds. On the 31st of March a woman and her daughter, in the village of Tuwani were arrested while grazing with their sheep.

The violence of the settlers goes completely unpunished, such as in the case of the attack in the village of Lasayfer, where a young man was injured without the police or army intervening or attempting to identify the settlers.

However, the resistance in the area continues steadfast, also through art: the work visible here made by a Palestinian shepherd from a village at risk of forcible displacement in the Masafer Yatta region, in collaboration with @down2us references his and one of his family members’ abduction. While working on their land, armed settlers dressed in Israeli army uniforms approached and surrounded them.
They tried to escape, but the settlers opened fire next to them. The two men were blindfolded and had their hands tied. They were dragged into a local settlement where they were beaten by the IOF and settlers in an attempt to force a false confession. Not giving an inch, our friends held strong under torture, refused to sign a “confession,” and after eight hours they were released.
This is not the first time we have seen these tactics in the local area. Three weeks before, we found four Palestinian men blindfolded with their hands tied in a ditch held at the gunpoint settlers, again posing as Israeli soldiers. We intervened and the men were freed.

These gangs of ultra-nationalist Israeli settlers continue to go unchecked. As the genocide in Gaza rightly grabs headlines across the world, we must continue to document and share what is going on here in the West Bank: here too, ethnic cleansing is taking place.
In this moment where the West condones and even materially supports the atrocities in Gaza, the settlers see they have the green light to continue their campaign of violence in the West Bank unabated.

All efforts to force a ceasefire and hold Israel accountable for its attack on Gaza will make a difference across all of Palestine, the middle east and the entire world. We must fight back.