It’s night-time, and the lights of our 4×4 information the way in which up a mountain street within the West Bank.
We’re above the village of Battir, south of Jerusalem, on rocky land that has been farmed by generations of the identical Palestinian households over many years.
They did not create this street. It was bulldozed one night by an Israeli settler residing close by. In the weeks that adopted, he moved sheep on to the land, constructed a pen for them, after which dug a gap out the facet of the hill.
We’re with Hasan, one of many villagers who has fought to reclaim this land via Israeli courts.
“He (the settler) was simply over there, and he began increasing throughout this hilltop.
“He brought some kind of big containers on wheels and he created like a big camp, with electricity generators and so on, and bringing all the facilities of water tanks and stuff like that.”
Every night, males from Battir come up right here to maintain watch on a rota. Within minutes of us arriving, a spotter noticed the automotive lights and raised the alarm.
Hasan mentioned: “His (the settler’s) claim was a grazing permit to come just to graze his sheep in the area. Then he starts saying this is the promised land of Israel and this is the land of the state of Israel, and I have the right to be here.
“But he by no means confirmed any proof of land possession or a contract that he acquired via any authorized physique.”
Hasan and his fellow villagers have been threatened and on one event had tear fuel fired at them by Israeli safety after they tried to face their floor.
“There were over a hundred settlers coming all together. We were really worried that it will become like a violent reaction. The third time he came in March or in February 2022, it was the most dangerous one when he came with some support of soldiers with him.
“They begin taking pictures tear fuel on us to forestall us from even getting nearer from the hilltop over there. So we be taught that that is getting violent. We are usually not trying to lose anyone from our village or our brothers or our cousins.”
It is a story you hear regularly in the West Bank. Israeli settlement expansion is illegal under international law and opposed by the US, UK, EU and the UN. It is the source of extreme anger for many Palestinians.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has flown in at a “pivotal second” as the security situation here grows ever more volatile by the day.
He met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday and will sit down with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah on Tuesday.
Although the US still talks of a two-state solution, as do other international governments, it is a non-starter right now.
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Mr Netanyahu is going through worldwide strain to calm the tensions, while on the similar time beholden to excessive right-wing voices in his new cupboard.
In response to current terror assaults in Jerusalem, the federal government has mentioned it needs to arm extra Israeli civilians and there has already been discuss of introducing the demise penalty.
The future for Hasan, and different Palestinians, is regarding.
Hasan mentioned: “Unfortunately, this is a very dangerous situation. We are really worried about all the support that the settlers are gaining through the new government.
“We are actually frightened they are going to come and they’ll assault us with their weapons, and we won’t be allowed to be right here anymore.”
What do you want? I ask him.
“I wish to reside in peace. I wish to reside in freedom. I need freedom as a result of freedom will get us peace and justice. Without the liberty, we’ll by no means get peace and justice on this nation.
“And there should be a solution if they want to have a one-state, two-state, 10-state solution, I don’t mind, I just want a free state that we could live in as Palestinians.”