Beita - Interviewing the Mayor after the violent event on Feb 28, 2020

Facebook Twitter Whatsapp Email
Aliyah S. (Eng); Ana S. (Eng, ed. & photos); Nathalie C. (Hebrew translation); Rachel S. Mustafa, driver and translator.


We changed our plans and visited the Municipality after a brief item on our site alerted us about shooting in Beita on Friday 28.02.20. The Mayor, who was a witness and one of the 191 injured, told us about the violent event. We drove to the site of the attack, and later visited a member of the local women’s organization.

POPULATION: 13,000 people.

LAND: 18,000 dunams, mostly olive groves. Since Oslo 1995, 89% of the village land is Area B  while the remaining 11% is Area C (Beita Town Profile).

WORK. Few men work in Israel (20%), others tend to their olive groves (10%). Others work at a stone quarry and Yanabi Factory which bottles fresh water (Industry 15%). The 2013 unemployment rate was 17% (Retrieved 2014 Town Profile,

מפעל "יאנאבי” לבקבוקי מים טריים

WOMEN’S ORGANISATION. Last time, Mustafa bought some things at a shop run by a woman who asked to meet us. He called her, telling her we were in Beita, so she again invited us for coffee at her house. H. also served us sweets, tasty chocolates she made herself, and asked us about Machsom Watch. We explained what we do in our organization, and what our group of 4 women does. We told her about Ymei Yam, and gave her Rachel Afek’s contacts. Then we showed her a postcard, Aliyah, had found at home. It is a lovely picture of a Palestinian woman making the peace sign with one hand and with a basket on her head. On the other side is printed The

Palestinian Federation Of Womens Action Committees in English and Arabic. "Oh yes,” she said. “Our women’s organization is connected to this Federation.”  

She told us about the activities of their local organization, among them a nursery school/kindergarten (which accepts toys), and a program for battered women. With enthusiasm, she invited us to come again so she could show us the kindergarten, as well as visit women’s groups. On her walls we saw some samples of traditional handicrafts they do; they raise bees, making hand cream from the wax. USAID sells their work, though since Trump cut its budget, they buy less. Their organization is open every day, and runs courses, such as cooking, and teaching illiterate women to read and write. More than 70% of the town’s women participate in the organization, many as volunteers, and four permanent salaried workers.

עבודת יד של נשות ביתא

This would certainly be a subject for another visit and a detailed report; we will also bring toys to the kindergarten. H. does not speak Hebrew, but Mustafa will interpret. We then walked with her to her shop, very near her home. Mustafa bought 2 small potted plants and Ana one. She has small plants, flower bouquets, and wrapped sweets like those she served us. It is a charming, neat and lovely shop. We said our goodbyes and look forward to seeing her again.

Women’s issues seem important in this town. A big poster in the Municipality appeals to avoid violence against women (see our report 22.09.19). Our hostess mentioned that one of their activities was taking care of battered women. One of the two parks is called “Mother and Children”; men on their own are not allowed. And the women’s organization is planning to build a floor over their building with sports facilities for women. This is the first village where w

e heard of a plan for a space for sports for women.

JEWISH terrorizing behavior: Attempting to conquer a Palestinian hill. About 3 weeks ago, Itamar settlers complained on Facebook that Beita village was neglecting some antiquities on one of their hills far from Itamar. They asked the Israeli government to take it over. Fearing an attack, Beita village decided to start a 24 x 7 watch on their hill. They organized shifts of 50 to 100 people. Then they dug a road so they could drive there instead of walking to the uninhabited hill. Their tents hardly protected them from the cold, the heavy rains and strong winds in the last three weeks of February, but they stuck it out. IDF soldiers came every day to look them over.

Friday, February the 28 th saw a dramatic change. At 10 am a group of settlers arrived at the hill—-backed by a big force of armed soldiers. Then the action began: soldiers shot tear gas and rubber bullets to expel the unarmed peaceful villagers from their own land. A rubber bullet hit one man on his back; another man fell and broke his leg. The Mayor, probably hit on the head, was unconscious for two hours and hospitalized. The military attack left 191 unarmed civilians wounded.  When the villagers left, the settlers joined the fray, by removing the Palestinian flag and unfurling the Israeli one. Though passive onlookers, the settlers are accomplices of this attack, which they instigated and which was waged for their benefit.

Now, two days later,  all is quiet—-the Palestinian flag is again flying, and the men go up and down the road to the hill for their shifts. Having over the years overcome aggressive settlers’ incursions (see our reports 26.02.19, and 22.09.19)[1], Beita has learned to rely on themselves. The Municipality did not inform anyone, neither the DCO, nor any volunteer organization of this unwarranted violent incursion into their land. Our host also assured us the Municipality did not call anyone at  Machsom Watch about this 28.02.20 shooting —an alert later posted on our site. The caller did it on his own. Clearly, they feel self-help is more effective. But A. promised to send me a video.

Tear gas and “rubber bullets” (rubber-coated metal canisters), as a brief research shows, are both defined as non-lethal but they are by no means harmless weapons. Tear gas, first used in WWI chemical warfare,[2] and their canisters have caused serious injuries in the eyes and lungs and even death.[3] Rubber bullets are especially dangerous at close range, as it seems to have been on this small hill. Nor is their use always justified. They have been used since the 1960s-70s to disperse unruly or rioting crowds, or when policemen feel threatened by disruptive individuals. At the Beita hill last Friday—if anyone was disruptive or life-threatening, it was certainly not the group of unarmed villagers looking after their own land.

 We drove up to see the hill at close range, accompanied by a farmer who, together with Mustafa, identified for us places like Awarta, Itamar and its outposts.  A wonderful panoramic view opened up for us. Under the blue sky, it was hard to understand that, as Shulamith Aloni said (“חמדנו”), greed to possess this beautiful land has been and still is the cause of so much suffering, violence, and bloodshed.


[1] For instance,” the Beita incident…a confrontation…between 16-20 teenage Israeli settlers from Elon Moreh out on a nature trek, who crossed village lands, with 2 armed men [one, a criminal banned from entering Nablus by the IDF] as guards, and Palestinian residents of Beita, on April 6, 1988. Three people were killed and several others wounded (retrieved Wikipedia).

[2] retrieved

[3] Tear gas, like all non-lethal or less-lethal weapons, may cause serious permanent injury or death. .a chemical weapon that causes severe eye and respiratory pain, skin irritation, bleeding, and blindness.…being hit by tear gas cartridges may cause severe bruising, loss of eyesight, or skull fracture, resulting in death. (retrieved Wikipedia). A 14-year-old Palestinian boy, who was hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces during a ‘Great March of Return(GMR) demonstration on 10 November 2(019, died of his wounds 31.01.20. (… When people are hit at close range or are severely exposed, eye injuries involving scarring of the cornea can lead to a permanent loss in visual acuity. (Wikipedia)   a Palestinian photojournalist has lost an eye in an attack by Israeli military forces. Attiya Darwish was hit by a tear gas canister in his face while covering protests at the Gaza Strip in December 2018. After seeking medical treatment at several hospitals, he was told in January 19, 2019 that he had lost all vision in his left eye. (retrieved

“…in the last 2 years along the Gaza perimeter, about 2,400 wounded by rubber-coated metal bullets, and almost 3,000 wounded by tear gas canisters (retrieved  B’tselem 26.02.20 ).