The 3,000 inhabitants of the Palestinian village of Urif, a dozen kilometers from Nablus, experienced more hours of tension and fear on Saturday. As had happened a few days ago, dozens of settlers from the nearby Israeli settlement Yitzhar went to Urif and threw stones and bottles at residents on the outskirts of the village.
Considered among the most extremist of religious Zionism followers, the Yitzhar settlers on May 19, 2012, raided Urif, resulting in the serious injury of a Palestinian who was shot in the stomach by a bullet. Just a few days ago, other settlers attacked Palestinians and Israeli activists with stones in the Jordan Valley.
The reason for this new raid is the control of land between the village and the colony. The Urif farmers are trying to reach their fields in an area considered by the settlers as part of the safety cordon around their settlement. It is a strip of land Yitzhar wants to annex and that the Palestinians want to recover, by cultivating their fields. The uncultivated land plots near the colonies — in most cases, because the owners can no longer get to them — are regularly declared “public lands” by the Israeli Civil Administration and, some time later, they are made available for the expansion of settlements.
The villages of Sinjil, Luban ash Sharqiyyeh, Qariut and as-Sawiya know something about this. In recent weeks, 250 hectares of “uncultivated” land were taken from them. The residents of Urif are disheartened. Now, there are weekly raids, and the investigations carried out by the army into the violence committed by the settlers hasn’t lead to anything.
The United Nations has recorded 221 attacks against Palestinians and their property in 2015 and 107 in 2016. Last month, the Israeli NGO Yesh Din reported that in the last three years, the military authorities have indicted suspects only in 8.2 percent of cases of settler attacks — compared with the high conviction rates (90 percent) inflicted on Palestinians.
The Israeli authorities are preparing to add an additional 15,000 dwellings to the colonies in the Palestinian area of Eastern Jerusalem,. Most probably, it will be announced on May 24, “Jerusalem Day.” All fine according to Mayor Nir Barkat, who, in view of the celebrations for the “reunification” of Jerusalem, after the Israeli occupation of the West in 1967, positions himself as the father of all the inhabitants. Assuming that the city will remain united under Israeli sovereignty, Barkat two days ago rejected accusations of discrimination and said that all the inhabitants of Jerusalem “are my children.”
The Israeli Ir Amim association immediately replied: “If they are all your children, why do eight out of 10 children in Eastern Jerusalem live below the poverty line?” Ir Amin recalled that the municipality invests only 10 percent of its budget in the Eastern area, where over a third of the city’s inhabitants live.