Palestinians from the village of Hawara, south of Nablus, accused settlers on Sunday of sneaking into a quarry in the middle of the night Saturday and torching trucks and an electrical generator used in a local quarry, resulting in hundreds of thousands of shekels in damages.
The Hawara locals reported that late Sunday night three settlers reached the quarry site, located under the Hawara checkpoint, and set two new vehicles on fire as well as a generator.
Mohammad Aanem, whose family owns the quarry, said he was sleeping opposite the site, and at close to 3:00 a.m. Sunday he identified settlers pouring gasoline on the trucks and setting them alight. Aanem said he saw the three fleeing towards the outpost of a nearby settlement.
The trucks, which according to the family are worth over NIS 0.5 million (about USD 107,000), were completely burned. Five members of the Aanem family work in the quarry, alongside six additional employees and 25 truck drivers who transfer the products to Nablus and the surrounding villages.
The two trucks were new and were jointly owned by seven people and provided income for dozens more. Members of the family said that without the trucks they don’t know how they’ll support their families.
Following the incident, Aanem called the police, and Ariel police officers were dispatched to the scene and interviewed witnesses. Aanem told the officers that he saw the settlers fleeing to the nearby outpost where Yitzhar settlers live.
The "Judea and Samaria Police" (Israeli name for the West Bank) launched an investigation into the incident and said that “it is not yet certain whether the perpetrators were settlers. We are exploring all avenues of suspicion.”
Aanem’s brother, Jamal, said that this was not the first time settlers from the outpost sabotaged the quarry, which reopened three-months ago after a long-term closure during the intifada years. Jamal said that settlers had damaged quarry equipment in the past, including a number of incidents in which they poured sugar into the generator’s solar panel.
“Every time we filed a complaint with the police, but nothing was done and we never got any news on how the investigations were progressing. Tonight too, when police came they didn’t say anything and certainly didn’t mention the possibility of pressing charges or being compensated,” Jamal added.
Jamal was adamant that the family would not give in to the vandals and shut down their operation.
“We’re not going anywhere. We are the only Arab business in the area, and we have no intention of running away because of the settlers’ attacks,” he said.
The human rights organization Yesh Din (there is law) received a report on the incident and made a statement that this is “another example of the helplessness of the Israeli legal authorities in the territories in enforcing the law against settlers’ crimes.”
*this article was sourced from Ynet News. Efrat Weiss contributed to the report