20 olive trees belonging to the Sufan family of Burin village were destroyed by settlers this morning. Burin, located in the northern West Bank, comes under frequent attack from the settlements of Yitzhar and Bracha enveloping the village.
Under the cover of dark, settlers entered the olive groves of the Sufan family home at around 3am and began chopping the trees. The attack is the third of its kind in the last two months, with the family losing 96 trees in November. The family’s home sits on the southern tip of the village towards the hill ascending to Yitzhar settlement, and bears the brunt of their violent neighbours’ attacks. It is the third attack of its kind in the last two months alone, with the family losing 96 of their olive trees in November directly after the harvest.
The Sufan family has experienced harassment from the settlement almost from the day of its construction in 1982, but the violence has peaked in the last three years, seeing settlers attempting to torch the home on several occasions, several rooms of which are still burnt and damaged. The family has been forced to equip every window in the house with strong wire fencing, in the hopes of protecting themselves when settlers descend on the property en masse, hurling stones at the house. Even the family’s livestock have come under attack.
Burin village is located in a valley directly between two mountains, colonised by two of the northern West Bank’s most extreme settlements – Yitzhar and Bracha. Burin’s 1000 residents have suffered greatly over the years, seeing destruction and arson of home and property, the slaughter of livestock and constant violence and intimidation at the hands of their neighbours. In addition to this, the village’s available farmland is under threat and continues to shrink, as Burin farmers abandon their lands, fearing the risk of harassment lest they be spotted by settlers and provoke an attack.
Yitzhar settlement is notorious for its fanatically ideological residents, the violence they inflict on neighboring Palestinian communities, and the extremist doctrines they espouse. Saturdays, the Jewish religious holiday of Shabbat, typically sees Yitzhar settlers roused to fever pitch zeal, wrecking havoc upon Palestinian villages unfortunate enough to live in its shadow. Settlers have frequently launched attacks with rocks, knives, guns and arson on Palestinian families and property in the area. In one of the most extreme act of terrorism students of the Yitzhar Od Yosef Hai yeshiva fired homemade rockets on Burin in 2008.
Not content with committing their own acts of brutality, Yitzhar rabbis are key players in incitement of targeted violence across the West Bank. Rabbi Elitzur from the same Yitzhar yeshiva published a book this November titled “The Handbook for the Killing of Gentiles”, condoning even the murder of non-Jewish babies, lest they grow to “be dangerous like their parents”. Rabbi Elitzur is vocal in his encouragement of “operations of reciprocal responsibility” such as the arson attack made on Yasuf mosque in November 2009.
Despite West Banks settlements’ status as illegal under international law, Yitzhar was included in the Israeli governments’ recent “national priority map” as one of the settlements earmarked for financial support. Construction has continued unabated in both Yitzhar and Bracha, despite the 10-month “freeze” announced in November. Yitzhar and Bracha also receives significant funding from American donations, tax-deductible under U.S. government tax breaks for ‘charitable’ institutions.