It has the beauty of a peaceful rural town, with olive trees rooted in the Jordan Valley. But “it’s dangerous,” the driver cuts off the idyll. From the hills of Al Mughayyir comes its terrible threat: Israeli settlers, who often come down and subdue the village with their attacks.

This Palestinian community of 2,000 inhabitants had never suffered attacks as destructive as those on April 12 and 13, in which armed Israeli civilians took revenge for the death of a 14-year-old Jewish shepherd. Their assault was one of 17 carried out that weekend, and one of more than 800 in the occupied West Bank since October 7, according to the UN. His scars linger in homes like that of Mohammed and Rania Abu Alia.

Soot and ashes cover the two-story building, with one part used for housing and another that used to be a mechanical workshop. Being close to an outpost (illegal even for Israel, but embryonic of future settlements), the settlers violated them for two days in a row.

Without losing the half smile that seems to characterize him, Mohammed says that on the 12th one of the assailants pointed a gun at him that did not have bullets or did not work. A “miracle” that allowed him to “resist” and “force the settlers to leave.” “They returned on the 13th as retaliation because they had not managed to set fire to the garage or the house, so when they arrived they set everything on fire.”

Drunk with power, they left the couple living with the corpses of the vehicles consumed by flames, and inhaling a burning smell that worsens with the slightest breeze. Worse still, Mohammed and his wife – who is six months pregnant and last year suffered a stress abortion after a raid by the Israeli Army – have no choice but to continue living in this house, which they have not finished paying for and has been assessed as unsafe by an engineer, due to fire damage.

“I am prepared to die in the street rather than leave this place,” swears Mohammed, who now works in a workshop outside Al-Mughayyir due to the impossibility of attending his own. A client waits for him while he talks to La Vanguardia and listens to how the young man promises to face future attacks, even if that means he will be the only one arrested.

“The settler comes from a very distant place, burns, breaks and destroys everything, and is considered a victim. I, who live in my house, only care about making a living and my only concern is my job and my family, I am considered a terrorist,” he reproaches.

The statements of residents and videos they recorded during the pogroms show a repeated pattern: settlers backed by soldiers who do not intervene to stop them and, if they do act, it is to assist them or go against the Palestinians who are trying to protect themselves.

This almost total impunity is evidenced by the fact that only 3% of police cases opened since 2005 due to settler violence have ended in convictions. “It is illogical, we need justice. What can we do as civilians against them, when they have the protection of the Army, which does nothing for us?” laments Marzouq Abu Naim, vice president of the local Council.

It indicates that “1,500 settlers” participated in the attacks and caused “75 injuries,” including one person who became paraplegic due to the violence and another who had to have a leg amputated. Sitting next to him, Afef Abu Alia carries that same helplessness. His son Jihad was killed in the assaults, by a shot to the neck that has not been determined if it was from a settler’s gun or a soldier’s gun. He bled to death, in part because Israeli forces blocked the arrival of the ambulance, his family condemns.

“What happened to my son could have happened to any other family,” says Afef, who is “accustomed” to this increase in attacks. Without releasing the beads he uses to pray, he expands that the settlers not only “burned houses and cars,” but “cut down and stole trees and killed sheep.”

The table at the entrance of the family home is completed by Afef’s brother, who invites him to some salty doughs filled with cheese and za’atar, a spice mixture composed mainly of a plant similar to oregano. As the Israeli Army – which has surveillance posts in the hills surrounding Al Mughayyir – has prohibited him from accessing his crops, the man had to sneak in to collect the leaves. “I had to steal from my own land,” he jokes.

That humor serves as protection here against the loss of Jihad, a “gentle” boy who was two months away from getting married and whom “everyone loved.” The young man’s face is everywhere in the village, and in the mosque, whose loudspeakers are also being used to warn of the settlers.

His death, however, occurred in the house of Abdellatif, a relative whose building was on the front line and which the settlers tried to invade. On the roof where Jihad was shot, the bullet holes and stones that were thrown at him and then returned in an attempt to defend himself are intact.

Knowing the area he has lived in for 50 years, Abdellatif has seen Israeli settlements and posts grow in the “last 15 years” and indicates that the pogroms are more organized than before, even using the M16 rifles handed out without control by the Minister of Security, the settler Itamar Ben-Gvir. “They come in greater numbers, with more weapons and the protection of the Army,” he says.

A reality that leads them to live “always with fear, anxiety and instability because they can return at any time.” Still, Abdellatif does not budge from a promise repeated in Al Mughayyir: “We continue to stand on this land. We will not leave, we will die here.”