Middle East Monitor / February 27, 2023
Hussein al-Suwaiti describes scenes of violent Jewish settler attack across his town, which has left cars, buildings and scrapyards burned to the ground.
Jewish settlers had gathered at an intersection of a Jewish settlement, descended on Huwwara on foot, and set the whole town on fire.
They had come holding flags and seeking revenge because earlier that day, a Palestinian shot dead two Jewish settlers.
The settlers burned homes, shops, and scrapyards. They moved towards the town’s main street, where we live, and first attacked our neighbours. They burned my neighbour’s car showroom, and the scrapyard facing it.
Then they came for my family.
They attacked our home with rocks and metal and tried to storm in. They hurled anything they could find at our house.
We started praying and my children were crying and screaming.
Huwwara has experienced settler attacks before, but not in this way, not at this level of violence. It was indescribable.
In the past, some settlers would stand outside our house, shout and throw a few rocks. They would attack one or two houses at a time, but yesterday, more than 250 settlers spread out across the town.
You couldn’t even seek your neighbours for safety, because they, too, were under attack.
Burnt to the ground
I have a scrapyard nearby, with about 25 cars inside.
The settlers lit tyres on fire, threw them at the cars, and burned the scrapyard to the ground.
They also burned another nearby scrapyard, which was bigger than mine, and smoke filled the street. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at the settlers, but most of it went into our house.
Our home disappeared under all of the smoke and tear gas; we were suffocating. We couldn’t do anything except pray, scream for help, and shout at the settlers.
When settlers were at our front door trying to break in, I started throwing shoes at them, from a shoe rack near me, through the window. While this was taking place, Israeli soldiers were just standing there, watching.
I yelled towards the soldiers and told them that the settlers were trying to force their way into my house. They pointed their weapons at me and told me to go inside.
No one was there to help. The fire was inching closer, and we were going to burn inside our home. My biggest fear was that they’d burn my car, which I had parked in the courtyard, in front of our entrance. If they had, we would have been stuck in the house.
I wrote a distressing message on Facebook: For the love of God, we need an ambulance and a fire truck.
The fire had taken hold of the scrapyard. Palestinian officials arrived at the scene and called on us and our neighbours to leave our buildings. They put us in Palestinian ambulances and took us to hospital.
My seven-year-old had to be put on oxygen from smoke inhalation, while I received emergency treatment because I have asthma.
I have three other children, aged 15, 14, and 13. The panic that we felt cannot be described.
The attack yesterday has compromised the security one feels in their own home, in their own town. We are in a state of alert now and expect them to return at any moment.
Before the attack started, settlers had come to Huwwara with their families, including their children, some of whom were in strollers, and walked around the town.
The army is behind their audacity.
The settlers know they are backed by soldiers, so of course, they will do whatever they want to do. They entered the town under the protection of the army, which had given them the green light.
In the past, when soldiers arrive at the scene, they contain the situation and the settlers disperse. Not this time.
When I yelled out to the soldiers that we couldn’t breathe, they pointed their guns at me. We need to have international observers on the ground.
As the saying goes, “the judge and the executioner are one and the same”. There’s no one to save us.
Hussein al-Suwaiti is a Palestinian resident of the town of Huwwara in the occupied West Bank