The Day the Zionist Settlers Paid Us a Visit

Reham Alhelsi
My Palestine

It was another “ordinary” summer day in Dheisheh refugee camp, as far as “ordinary” goes in occupied Palestine. As with every school holiday, my parents had sent my sister and me to my grandparent’s house. We loved going there and cherished every minute of our stay. And although, in my opinion, nothing compares to Jerusalem and although Sawahreh is forever my little Palestinian paradise, Dheisheh was my fortress, it taught me so much about the occupation, about oppression and about resistance and the thirst for freedom. That tiny, over-crowded refugee camp taught me so much about the Right of Return and about the Palestine the Zionist entity tries so hard to erase.

It was an ordinary day, or maybe it wasn’t. I don’t remember any particular events that’s day, maybe because it was just another summer day or maybe because the events that followed erased any memory I had of everything else that happened that day. That evening my sister and I had a fight over something, most probably trivial as usual, and me being stubborn as usual, declared I won’t talk to my sister anymore, refused to have any dinner and went to bed too early even for chicken despite all the pleading and all efforts from my grandmother, uncles and aunts to resolve the conflict peacefully. After sometime of fuming and secretly cursing, I eventually fell asleep. I was awakened sometime later by loud sounds of banging. I jumped off the mattress (we all slept on the floor, there were no beds) and ran to the sitting room. There I saw everyone awake and wearing their day attire. I looked at the window and to my astonishment saw that it was still dark outside. “What is wrong? Where are you all going?” I asked as I moved from one person to the other and very much aware of the continuous sounds of gunshots, hand grenades and screams outside. “The settlers have attacked!” someone answered me.

And it wasn’t any kind of settlers, but the fanatic terrorists of Kiryat Arba’. “Where are you all going?” I asked. “To defend the refugee camp, to defend our homes” they were saying. They were all ready to leave and were distributing themselves as to which street or to which neighborhood everyone was to go. It was obvious this wasn’t the first time they had to go through this and it wasn’t the first settler attack nor was it to be last, and most probably what happened in my grandparents house happened in every other house in the refugee camp. They were so used to such attacks that all the “organization” was done in a few minutes. And to any Zionist reading this, I will have to disappoint you and say that they strictly refused to let any of us children out of the house, despite begging and pleading to go out with everyone else and participate in defending the refugee camp. We were told to stay in the house, to hide and be careful as to who we allow inside the house. So, next time you Zionists go cry: Palestinian send their children to get killed, keep reading and you’ll see how much Zionist colonists love their children.

So, with the exception of us children, everyone else went out to the streets and alleys to defend our homes, even my elderly grandmother, who without a word snatched a tree stem hidden behind the couch and declared: I am going to the west entrance to defend my daughter’s house. My aunt lived there with her little children and the idea that her house was located exactly at the west entrance of the refugee camp, exposed to the attackers and one of the first houses they would encounter when attempting to storm the refugee camp, brought fear to everyone who had witnessed settler violence, especially that of the Kiryat Arba’ terrorists. We sat in the empty house with the lights off so the settlers don’t shoot in our direction. We could hear the loud shouting and singing of the settlers accompanied by shooting and loud banging. It was as if everything around us was shaking; the walls, the windows, the chairs, the whole house and the neighbouring ones. We could also hear the sound of people running along the small alley behind our house. They were all heading towards the main Jerusalem-Hebron road that passes in front of the refugee camp. At some point, we sneaked to the windows and keeping our heads low we watched as the settles went on with their macabre celebration: There were settlers, many of them, armed, laughing, shouting and shooting at the houses, vandalizing and destroying the cars parked in front of the refugee camp. There were women and children present. They had brought their families with them to joint in the attack on sleeping Palestinian families. There were also Israeli occupation soldiers present who instead of stopping the settlers from shooting were actually assisting them and directing their gun towards the refugee camp. Instead of stopping the Zionist who had come at midnight to attack sleeping Palestinian families, the IOF were shooting at the Palestinians who started throwing stones at the fully-armed settlers.

And so it was: stones against a rain of bullets and tear gas canisters. And while they were shooting, the Zionist settlers were singing and chanting. If this isn’t lust for blood, if this isn’t celebrating murder, I don’t know what it. And the Zionists who keep claiming Palestinians send their children to be killed in demos, had brought their children with them to join in the attack, they had brought them with them to teach them “how to love thy neighbour” and “how to make peace with thy neighbor”. They wanted to show their children what being a Zionist is all about and how to deal with Palestinian civilians ‘a la Zionist way. I remember asking some friends from Dheisheh about this years later and being told that often when the settlers of Kiryat Arba’ attack the refugee camp they bring their wives and children with them. When I asked about their thoughts as to why the settlers did such a thing, they answered: so when Palestinians go out to defend their homes and throw stones at the armed attackers, the settlers would use their wives and children as human shields and so that the Palestinians would stop throwing stones considering there were children. I was told that they saw more than once how the children were standing in the first row in front of the adult settlers. So, the settlers would use their children to stop Palestinians from throwing stones at them, but these same settlers wouldn’t hesitate a minute to shoot a Palestinian child. Judging from the sound of bullets and tear gas canisters flying all around us and the banging and the rejoicing and judging from the holes in the houses and cars and the shattered windows we found everywhere the next day, it was obvious that the settlers didn’t give a damn how many they kill or who they kill, i.e. whether a child, woman or adult. They were just aiming to kill. Fortunately, and maybe should I say miraculously, no one was killed, but not because the settlers didn’t “mean any real harm”. It was because the Palestinians had been used to such terror attacks and knew how best to keep themselves and their children safe: upon an attack all house lights immediately go off, movement inside houses is only when there is a necessity and while bowing down so one doesn’t get hit by a bullet flying through the windows, and those who leave to fend off the settlers know the streets and the alleys as the back of their hands and thus have the upper hand. Every time the Israeli occupation army commits a massacre in the middle of the night, or raids a Palestinian village or town in the middle of the night, or bombards Gaza in the middle of the night, I remember the midnight settler attacks on Dheisheh. These cowards chose the time when Palestinians are asleep in their homes, the time they believe when most Palestinians are not in a state to defend themselves and their homes. But they are mistaken; a Palestinian is always ready to defend his/her family, his home and his land.

Seeing that the residents who were defending their homes were actually in a better position and had the control over the refugee camp (not one single settler was able to enter the refugee camp that night), and seeing that their machine guns, live bullets and poisonous gas canisters were useless in the face of Palestinian steadfastness, the soldiers and the settlers finally retreated. The next morning, I went with the others to my aunt’s house. On the way, I remember passing the houses and seeing the bullet holes practically everywhere. Every single house we passed on the way to my aunt’s had bullet holes from the previous night. The main street was more like something from a war movie. The Israeli occupation army had tried it best to remove the evidence of the attack, but alas! The time of miracles had long gone. The whole area was filled with journalists. They were all taking photos of the bullet holes visible everywhere, of the destroyed cars, of the shattered windows. They were interviewing everyone on what had happened the night before. In front of my aunt’s house, which was affected greatly by the bullets, one “foreign looking” female journalist was talking to my aunt. The journalist looked at me as I came and stood near my aunt and said: I have a daughter who looks just like you. I don’t want to think of her going through what you went through last night. Then some other journalist came and talked to her in Hebrew and I realized that she was an Israeli. The only Israelis I had known at that time were mostly the armed soldiers and the fanatic settlers. Being there to report on what the Zionist settlers had done to us, and telling me, indirectly, she didn’t like what had happened was one thing I never forgot. I stood among that sea of reporters and residents, drowned in the sound of questions, comments and watching the Israeli army jeeps patrolling the main street as if telling us: don’t tell much or else, when the reporters eventually go we will be here. Among this sea of reporters, residents and soldiers I looked up and saw my aunt and the Israeli reporter: there they were, two mothers, talking about what had happened the night before, and I remember, a naive child at the time, thinking: if the Israelis themselves feared the settlers so much, why don’t they say NO to the settlers? It was on that or on a following day that we heard from the Israeli reporters, and they had access to Israeli settler media, that among the attackers was one “newly converted Jew” who had just moved to Kiyat Arba’. The attack on Dheisheh was some sort of initiation ritual for this new member of Kiryat Arba’.

Many more attacks of armed Zionist colonists on civilian Palestinians followed, and not only in Dheisheh but all over occupied Palestine. Zionist terrorism happen almost on a daily basis and can be witnessed everywhere in occupied Palestine. Just take a drive from Bethlehem to Hebron and you will see all those armed settlers walking the streets as if they owned the land. Take a drive from Bethlehem to Ramallah or from Ramallah to Nablus and watch all those illegal settlements popping up on Palestinian hilltops and spreading like cancer. Take a walk in one of the neighbourhoods of occupied Jerusalem, Silwan, Rasi Il-Amoud, Wadi Il-Jouz, Il-Sheikh Jarrah, Shu’fat, and you will see the Palestinian houses occupied by Zionist colonists while the real owners of the houses live in a tent not far away from their homes and refusing to leave Jerusalem. Talk a walk in the old city of Hebron and see all the empty streets and closed shops and homes whose residents were forced out to make place for colonists from Brooklyn and Siberia. Take a walk in the old city of Jerusalem and see the heart of Palestine that was once thriving and pumping life into all of Palestine from the River to the Sea being slowly squeezed to death. Take a walk in Sawahreh, Beita, Burin, Beit Ummar, Yasuf and other Palestinian villages and see the Zionist colonies spreading like cancer, killing Palestine slowly and painfully. Take a walk in occupied Palestine and see Palestinian fields burnt alive, Palestinian water strangled with chemical poisons, Palestinians homes raped and Palestinian pathways of childhood desecrated by strangers.

And when you have walked and seen all these armed settlers and what they have done to Palestine, then remember this:

The Zionist colonists of Kiryat Arba’ attacked the sleeping residents of Dheisheh refugee camp in the middle of the night. The Zionist colonists were armed with machine guns while the residents of Dheisheh used stones and sticks to defend themselves and their homes. Who is here the civilian and who is the armed terrorist?

The Zionists of Elon Moreh attacked Beita while hiding behind their own children. And while on a killing spree they killed one of their own children who wanted to prevent the murder of Palestinians, they blamed it on the Palestinians. And while the murdered settler child was given a state funeral, Palestinians families of Beita didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye to their murdered children because their homes were being demolished and their men and other children were being deported. Maybe, according to some, these Zionist colonists were “justified” in killing Mousa Bani Shamsi (20 yrs old) and Hatim Jabir (22 yrs old) since the Zionist murderers were “non-combatants” and only went fully armed to Beita for tea and cake!

The Zionist colonists murdered 11 year old Ahmad Sha’lan in cold blood and threw his body in a deserted water well. Maybe, according to some, these “non-combatant” murderers were “justified” in killing Sha’lan since they were disturbed in their “picnicking” on Jabal Anton by the little boy.

The Zionist colonists of Itimar executed Yahya Bani Munya (18 yrs old) with 20 bullets after chasing him with their car like an animal in a safari. Maybe, according to some, these “non-combatant” murderers were “justified” in killing Bani Munya since the boy was “destroying nature” by allowing his goats to graze the land that belongs to his family.

The Zionist colonists steal Palestinian land, occupy Palestinian homes, uproot Palestinian trees, destroy Palestinian natural resources and have a green light to kill Palestinians whenever they want for whatever reason they chose to invent. The Zionist colonists are allowed to possess machine guns, have security patrols, are protected by Israeli occupation forces and any Palestinian coming close to a Zionist colony, even little shepherd boys with their goats or farmers who want work their own land, would be shot dead without why or how. When they kill Palestinians for no reason whatsoever other than pure hate and blood-thirst, they are called “victims” and their terror acts are justified with “defending themselves”.

Palestinians are attacked, brutally beaten and murdered for no reason by foreigners come to steal their land and force them out of it and when the Palestinians defend themselves, their families, their homes and their land they are called “terrorists”.

Since that summer night in Dheisheh refugee camp, the fanatic Zionist colonists occupying Palestinian land have attacked one Palestinian town after another, one village after another and one refugee camp after another. Their attacks are carried out with the full support of the Zionist entity and its occupation army. The followers of the ideology of terrorism, ethnic cleansing and racism, aka Zionism, have murdered, butchered, maimed, stolen land and gotten away with every single terrorist act they did and still do. And today, and every day, they attack Jerusalem, Hebon, Nablus, Bethlehem, An-Naqab, Jaffa and spread their terror wherever they land. They continue to attack and we will continue to defend ourselves because resistance is the legitimate weapon of the oppressed and because at the end of the day it is justice that will prevail.

Finally I say:

What divine or human law says that a fanatic Zionist from Brooklyn has a right to my land, my fields and my olive trees?
What divine or human law allows a Zionist colonist from Russia to take my home, burn my olive trees and kill my friend?
What divine or human law says I don’t have the right to defend myself and free my land from Zionist terror?


For a list of some of the terror attacks of Zionist settlers: Zionist Settlers: A Long History of Terrorism





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