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Palestinian family on West Bank violence: 'We're living in a prison'

From Paula Hancocks, CNN
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Family plagued by settler violence
  • A Palestinian family videotapes attacks on their home
  • Israeli and Palestinian leaders recently started another round of peace talks
  • The talks could be derailed if Israel starts building settlements in the West Bank again

Burin, West Bank (CNN) -- With a moratorium on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank set to expire -- and Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at risk -- one family in the Palestinian village of Burin knows first-hand what could be at stake.

Video footage, taken by a camera donated by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, shows a man hurling stones at the Sufan family's house.

Hanan Sufan, 50, says settler attacks have lasted a decade.

"This grating is to protect the window, so if they throw something, it does not enter the house," she says in her home near the West Bank city of Nablus.

Her 23-year-old daughter, Imam, has been videotaping the attacks.

"We're living in a prison," she says. "This is like hell. Who can live in a house barricaded with iron?"

Family is living in constant fear

Hanan Sufan shows where the settlers set fire to the house in 2002, an incident that was confirmed by the International Red Cross.

She says her husband suffered a stroke the same night and died a week later. Through tears, Hanan Sufan says she wishes she had lost her home, not her husband.

The Sufan family says, in addition to fortifying the house over the years, the family has put barbed wired up on the railings to stop people from climbing into the house. Every night, one member of the family sleeps outside, just in case.

Hanan Sufan's olive grove is bordered by the Israeli settlement of Yitzhar -- a settlement that many mainstream Israelis consider one of the most radical.

The mother says 23 trees were chopped down by the settlers in January.

"Olive trees are as dear to me as my children, because I raise them like a child -- digging, watering, taking care of it -- and they come and chop it down," she says.

When the family harvests the 20 remaining trees next month, it will have Israeli military protection.

The Israeli military has intervened in the past to try to stop settler attacks on the Sufan home and Burin.

A spokesman for the Yitzhar settlement declined to comment, citing the Jewish holidays.

But Israeli media have reported that the Rabbi of Yitzhar, Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, has said, "If there is no quiet for the Jews, there will be no quiet for the Arabs."

And there hasn't been for members of the Sufan family, who say they live in fear of the next attack.