More than 100 settler attacks on Palestinians documented in last 10 days: Report
There have been more than 100 attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank over the last ten days, according to local media.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said on Friday that most of the attacks it had documented had taken place in the northern West Bank, especially in the town of Huwwara in Nablus governorate.
Last week, dozens of settlers attacked Palestinian property and vehicles in the Huwwara area.
Witnesses told Middle East Eye that masked settlers threw rocks at Palestinian vehicles near the town, as well as setting vehicles and olive trees on fire.
Abdullah Odeh, who owns a local amusement park in Huwwara, said residents had almost been successful in repelling the settlers when a group of Israeli soldiers arrived.
"The settlers were retreating, but when they saw the soldiers, they came back in force and started to get closer, breaking everything in their path," said Odeh.
"The soldiers did not push them back. Instead, they started to attack us and shoot toward us."
Footage from Odeh's security cameras reviewed by MEE corroborates his story.
"While the soldiers were pushing us back and attacking us, the settlers started to set fire to one of our vans that was parked higher up on the hill, while another group of them came and started to set fire to one of our lorries," he says.
Armed with stones, sticks, and guns, another group of settlers began throwing rocks at passing cars and smashing up shops along the town's main road.
On Wednesday, two activists were injured by settlers armed with stones and clubs while helping Palestinians harvest olives in the village of Kisan, south of Bethlehem.
"About twenty settlers arrived and started attacking the harvest volunteers," Tali Katzir, an activist who was at the scene, told Haaretz.
Katzir said Hagar Gefen, a 70-year-old human rights activist, was among those injured.
"She suffers from broken ribs and bruises all over her body," said Katzir.
Knesset lawmakers Aida Touma-Sliman and Ofer Cassif, from Hadash-Ta'al, condemned the attack and called for those behind it to be held responsible.
"This horrific attack is a direct result of the criminal silence... [from Prime Minister Yair] Lapid, [Defence Minister Benny] Gantz, and [Public Security Minister Omer] Bar-Lev in the face of settler terrorism," said Touma-Sliman.
Haaretz said on Friday that while Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi had been quick to condemn attacks by settlers on Israeli soldiers, no such criticism had been made by the army over attacks against Palestinians.
An Israeli soldier from an illegal West Bank settlement near Nablus was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of participating in a settler attack on an Israeli unit earlier in the day.
On Thursday morning, a group of settlers threw rocks at passing Palestinian vehicles in Huwwara, before attacking Israeli soldiers dispatched to the area with pepper gas.
A security source told the newspaper that contrary to claims by senior security officials that attacks on Palestinians were being carried out by an out-of-control handful of settlers, well known to the security establishment, they were in fact being perpetrated by a large number of settlers, including women and children.
The source added that the attacks by the settlers were an attempt to inflame the situation in the occupied territories to the benefit of party campaigns ahead of next month's election in Israel.