In July alone, approximately 20 residents of the community of Widady a-Tahta in the South Hebron Hills abandoned their homes after repeated harassment by Israeli settlers and security forces.

During the same month, the Bedouin shepherding community of al-Baqah relocated away from their land east of Ramallah. In the previous weeks, the community has suffered daily settler attacks originating from a nearby settler outpost. Residents who dismantled their homes and animal enclosures told an Israeli human rights organization, they had no choice but to leave as they were afraid for their lives and had no one to protect them. 

Residents in the Ein Samia community near Ramallah—home to about 200 Palestinians—were forced to leave their land in May 2023 as their lives became unbearable.  In July 2022, Ras a-Tin, consisting of approximately 100 people—most of them children—also in the vicinity of Ein Samia, left their herding community and relocated to Area B of the West Bank because they too found their living conditions unbearable.  

Constant fear

In a statement, Nidal Younis, head of the Masafer Yatta Village Council, appealed to the United Nations, Israeli and international human rights organizations, and all who defend human rights to do what they can to end the violence.

We are living in constant fear due to the unfair decision by the consecutive governments of Israel to evict us from our land; to ruin our livelihood and livestock; and to destroy our property,” Younis said. We are grateful to the staff of international organizations for their tireless effort to document the human rights violations.”

Such violations have been skyrocketing. It used to be that one violation or so was documented per month, but now the human rights violations are happening all the time,” Younis said. "We are grateful also to all organizations that stand in solidarity with us. Due to the help we are receiving from friends the world over, we have been in a legal battle for no less than 20 years now.”

He went on to say: We are tired, both physically and emotionally. Eight settlements were built on our land, and the settlers are using violence to destroy our lives and childrens future.”

Numbers tell the tragic story

The Masafer Yatta community documented that, between 1 January-30 June this year, shepherds have been attacked 60 times, and people were prevented from preparing for winter crops 195 times.

In an even wider scope of numbers and communities, the Emergency Operations Center in the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that, between 1 January-30 June this year, 180 Palestinians were killed, including 31 children, 11 females, and eight persons over 60. At least 5,871 Palestinians were injured, including 180 children.

Ecumenical accompaniers from the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, from 15 April-23 June this year, reported that the number of human rights violations keeps increasing. The most recent group of ecumenical accompaniers reported 831 violations, compared to 679 in the previous period. Within the past year, the number of documented violations increased by 177.4%. The most recent group of ecumenical accompaniers conducted 990 field visits that included a protective presence, monitoring checkpoints, briefings, support for nonviolent action, and interventions that ensured a visible active presence.

"We need you here—only when you are here, they [soldiers and settlers] leave us alone,” said a woman from Ein Shibli as she spoke to ecumenical accompaniers.

"It is good that you are here,” said a man from Ein Samia. If you werent here we would have probably been beaten or arrested.”

Learn more about the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel 

"WCC patriarchs and heads of churches in jerusalem call for end to attacks on holy sites"- WCC news release 31 July 2023