Settler attacks in the West Bank are often violent, causing injury to Palestinians or the destruction of olive trees, particularly in Hebron, the South Hebron Hills, or by the Yizhar which is around Nablus.
The damage to property of the inhabitants of Assawiya was of a lesser degree by comparison. But it caused loss of livelihood, fear, and disempowerment. The village is divided by a highway (an Israeli road built without legitimate planning procedures) which in itself has caused dislocation and access problems to the farmland etc.
This incident happened last week to the part of the village nearest the settlement of Eli. I witnessed the aftermath of the events that had happened in the early hours of that morning, travelling there with Arafat Abu Ras.
What we saw first was the wanton destruction of a small roadside garden ‘centre’; graffiti sprayed on the ornamental pots, and the cutting down and uprooting of plants. Moving up the hill there were many punctured tractor tyres made totally unusable, and one car with four damaged tyres. ‘Revenge’ in Hebrew was sprayed on one garage door. Most devastating of all was the desecration by graffiti of two graves of a father and his brother. If the Palestinians had damaged Jewish graves, this would be deemed as anti-Semitic and a threat to the state of Israel.
There was a sizeable Israeli army and border police presence in the village which had been there all day. But no settlers had been interviewed, they were there merely to prevent confrontations between the villagers and the settlers breaking out. In all cases of vandalism by settlers the army takes the side of the settlers, an illustration of the daily intimidation happening to Palestinians.
* passing reference to punk band The Damned’s album