By: Zahran Maali
NABLUS, Saturday, January 23, 2021 (WAFA) – Alaa Sawafta, a 36-year-old father of two, was on his way back home together with his family to celebrate the third birthday of their little kid, Jad, when all of a sudden a group of rampaging Israeli settlers hurled their vehicles with stones, injuring the three-year-old kid and his mother.
At about 8pm last Thursday (local time), Alaa and his family left the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the father works, for their hometown of Tubas in the north of the territory. A couple of minutes into their drive, just near the village of Burqa, the family were surprised by a barrage of stones hurled at their vehicle by a group of hardcore Israeli settlers.
"The atmosphere was dark. As we reached the village junction, someone from afar lit up on us with a flashlight. I thought that it was an Israeli police patrol and therefore reduced the speed until the car stopped," Alaa says. "All of a sudden," he adds, "two [Israeli] settlers surrounded the vehicle, and one of them wanted to open the door by force, while the other started hitting the front of the vehicle with his feet."
Fortunately, the two settlers were not able to open the doors of the vehicle. By that time, Alaa says, another group of about twenty settlers were seen attacking them from multiple directions and hurling the car with stones, smashing its windshield. Successfully, Alaa applied the maximum pressure he could to the gas pedal and fled the scene in what he described as a miraculous survival.
"The settlers blew up all our plan to celebrate the third anniversary of my little kid, Jad. We had planned to celebrate his birthday with the extended family in Tubas on Friday, but we had to return to Ramallah, where Jad was treated at the Palestine Medical Complex," the 36-year-old man signs.
He continues, "For the first time, I feel my family is terrified. I have never been subjected to such an attack before. They [the settlers] were so brutal against my children, death was before our eyes!"
In recent months, the main roads connecting the cities of the occupied West Bank have become perilous due to a surge in surprise attacks and ambushes by organized Israeli settler gangs.
"We no longer feel safe on the roads given the settlers' madness and their bullying behavior," adds Alaa.
According to Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, "Settler violence has long since become part of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation. Israeli security forces enable these actions, which result in Palestinians casualties – injuries and fatalities – as well as damage to land and property."
"In some cases, they even serve as an armed escort, or even join in the attacks. Investigations, if even opened, are usually closed with no action taken against perpetrators as part of an undeclared policy of leniency. The long-term effect of this violence is the dispossession of Palestinians from increasing parts of the West Bank, making it easier for Israel to take over land and resources."
Until the moment, the two children, Jad and his five-year-old brother, Majd, feel traumatized from the ugliness of the incident. Majd recounts some of the details of the incident, saying: “The settlers were going to kill us. They tried to open the car door, and they hurled stones at us."