Dozens of Israeli settlers attacked the Palestinian village of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday night, damaging cars, homes, and businesses through arson and stone throwing. Five Palestinians were injured by live fire either from settlers or soldiers. According to eyewitnesses, Israel’s army and police were present throughout the attack.
The settler rampage — which was repeated in other areas of the West Bank last night — follows a shooting attack Monday morning at a gas station in the neighboring settlement of Eli in which Palestinian gunmen killed four Israelis. That attack followed a major Israeli army raid on Jenin the previous day which killed seven Palestinians.
Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya is located a few kilometers from the Eli gas station. After Monday’s shooting attack, dozens of settlers began blocking major roads across the West Bank, where they attacked Palestinians and obstructed their movement. According to witnesses, immediately following the Eli attack, a settler drove his car into a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who was riding a bicycle, and then attacked him with a rifle butt.
Around 10:30 p.m., more than a hundred settlers gathered at the entrance to Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya, near Route 60, and began attacking. According to the head of the village council, Yacoub Awais, 30 vehicles were damaged, most of them having been set on fire; 10 homes were damaged; and two shops and a gas station were vandalized. Settlers also damaged a wheat warehouse, agricultural fields, and electricity poles. The sights were reminiscent of the pogrom that Israeli settlers carried out in the town of Huwara earlier this year, only on a smaller scale.
“Every time there is a [Palestinian attack] in the area, the settlers come here,” said Awais as he stood next to the burned out vehicles. “The attack was not here, the shooters are not from the area, and yet they still come to us. They damaged everything they could, burned, tried to attack the school, but the residents pushed them away.
“The residents came out to defend the houses,” Awais continued. “There were five wounded from live fire who were evacuated to the hospital in Salfit. The army and the police were here the whole time, but they didn’t prevent the attacks, they only protected the settlers.” According to Awais and other residents, neither the police nor the army have returned to the village to investigate the attack or collect evidence and testimonies.
Bilal, a 45-year-old resident of the nearby town of Qabalan, was traveling with a group of people on their way from Ramallah to Nablus when he entered the village. “The road was closed by the army,” he told +972. “We were seven cars, so we entered the gas station in the village. The local residents took us to their homes; we saw from the window that the cars were being burned.”
“It’s hard for me to say how I feel,” he continued with tears in his eyes. “The residents here saved us and protected us. We stayed with them until 3 in the morning. When we left, we saw the burned cars. The army and the police were here the entire time and didn’t do a thing.”
Happening now at Turmus Ayya: settlers continue their attacks pic.twitter.com/xAS687mIAJ
— B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) June 21, 2023
“The whole village came out [to defend themselves] against the settlers, but the army and the police protected [the settlers],” said another resident who asked to remain anonymous. “Israelis should know that if the situation continues, with Ben Gvir and the government, everything will explode.”
Following the pogrom, Yesh Din, an Israeli anti-occupation NGO, released a statement saying it had documented settler violence in Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya, Za’atara Junction, Yitzhar Junction, Huwara, Qabalan, and Bitin overnight. “Although there were warnings in advance, as well as experience from the pogrom in Huwara, once again the army did not intervene and let the rioters do as they pleased. Israel’s message to the settlers is clear: the monopoly over power is in your hands,” the statement read. On Wednesday, settler attacks spread to the village of Turmus Ayya near Ramallah.
In a statement, the IDF Spokesperson told +972: “Several Israeli citizens tried to enter Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya last night and they set fire to fields and buildings at the entrance of the village. IDF forces that were deployed in the area used means to disperse demonstrations in order to prevent damage to property. Several citizens were arrested and transferred to the security forces to be dealt with further. There were no injuries to soldiers.”
Israel Police, meanwhile, told +972: “Upon receiving the report, an investigation was opened with the goal of ascertaining the truth.”
A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.