Burqa, a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank, has been in a state of extreme alert, due to the repeated attacks by hundreds of settlers on its residents, since the Israeli occupation army announced Dec.
Burqa, as well as other villages including Sebastia and Silat ad-Dhahr, have witnessed a series of attacks and incursions by settlers, protected by the occupation army, which the Palestinians met with marches and almost daily confrontations, resulting in dozens wounded after live and rubber bullets were fired. The residents of Burqa, which stretches over 1,000 dunams (247 acres) and is home to about 4,500 people, fear that the settlers will return to rebuild the Homesh settlement. The latter was set up over 900 dunams (222 acres) that were confiscated from the village’s lands, and another 50 dunams (12 acres) belonging to the nearby Silat ad-Dhahr village town. The settlement was evacuated by the Israeli occupation in 2005. Shavei Shomron still stands on its land to the south.
Burqa has turned into the center for the confrontation with settlers in the West Bank, with young men from the various surrounding villages and towns heading to the village often to counter the incursions of settlers and the army.
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Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the West Bank, said, “Since a settler was killed, thousands of settlers tried to launch three large-scale attacks on the village, but the residents countered them. The village was a scene for confrontations with the settlers and the army until the early morning hours [of Dec. 19].”
He said that the 11 young men were wounded after live bullets were fired in the confrontations with the settlers. One of them has serious injuries, and more than 70 people were wounded by live bullets. He noted that the residents are in a state of alert, and the Israeli army deliberately intensified the use of tear gas in every attack.
Daghlas added that the settlers intend to commit a massacre in the village through their repeated and large-scale attacks and by targeting the residents’ houses. He explained that the settlers targeted 27 houses in the past few days, throwing stones and seeking to sabotage and destroy houses. He said that the residents countered the settlers’ attempts to prevent them from returning to the Homesh settlement, which is built on the village’s lands.
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In 2005, Israel evacuated Homesh as part of its plan of unilateral disengagement, according to which all the Gaza Strip settlements and four small settlements in the West Bank were evacuated. Yet the settlers frequently enter the settlement in an effort to establish some mobile homes. Although evacuated, the Israeli occupation army turned the settlement into a military zone, preventing the Palestinian owners from restoring their lands.
Daghlas said that the residents will not allow the rebuilding of the settlement because that would pose a threat to their lives, and that on Dec. 27 the army closed 17 entrances to the village with earth mounds, but the residents were able to reopen it on two occasions.