Israeli settlers attack Palestinians across West Bank after shooting
Israeli settlers launched multiple attacks on Palestinians and their property on Tuesday hours after a gunman killed five people in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish area in Tel Aviv.
The assailant, identified as 27-year-old Palestinian Diya Hamarshah, was later fatally shot by police.
'We live in a state of tension and preparedness for any new attack from the settlers, and we fear for our lives'
- Nisfat al-Khuffash, activist in Marda
Local media said he was a former prisoner from the occupied West Bank city of Yabad near Jenin.
The incident has triggered settler violence in the occupied Palestinian territories.
In the village of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya, near the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, settlers cut down around 170 olive trees and damaged villagers' homes and vehicles with stones, eyewitnesses told Middle East Eye.
Villager Raja Owais told MEE that a settler bus protected by Israeli army and police vehicles stopped near his land at midnight on Tuesday. He discovered the next morning that settlers had cut down olive trees on his eight dunams (roughly two acres) of land.
The trees were planted 12 years ago and were the main source of income for his family.
"I raised these trees as I raise children... Today I feel that I have lost my children, the feeling is very painful," he said.
Owais said his village “went through hours of terror” during the attacks, and that settlers have targeted the village before.
"The settlers use any event as a pretext to attack us. We are victims of these attacks on a daily basis... but the attacks have increased exponentially since the beginning of the year," he said.
In the village of Marda, near the city of Salfit in the central West Bank, a group of settlers attacked a number of vehicles by smashing their windows and damaging their wheels, before fleeing.
Nisfat al-Khuffash, an activist in the village, told MEE that people from the Ariel settlement snuck into the village and attacked four vehicles. “It seemed that they were planning a larger attack, but the vigilance of the villagers prevented the attack from continuing, and the settlers fled quickly,” he said.
Settlers target the village of Marda almost every day. Their assaults often intensify when there is news of violence elsewhere.
"We live in a state of tension and preparedness for any new attack from the settlers, and we fear for our lives, especially since the settlers are armed and carry out their attacks while guarded by the Israeli army."
Marda is surrounded by the separation wall and military gates are shut completely when there is a security incident - even far away. “The village and its people are isolated," said al-Khuffash, "and each closure may extend for up to five days.”
Map of attacks
In the village of Qaryut, south of Nablus, settlers set up caravans on nearby land on Wednesday.
A Palestinian official in charge of settlement affairs in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, said that the settlers set up two caravans in the Al-Batain area of Qaryut, located between the settlements of Shiloh and Eli.
A 41-year-old Palestinian, Zaki Abdel Rahim Eleiwi, was attacked by settlers near the Shavei Shomron settlement, northwest of Nablus, on Wednesday.
The director of accident and emergency at the Red Crescent in Nablus, Ahmad Jibril, said that Eleiwi, from the town of Sebastia, sustained a broken hand and was transferred to Rafidia Governmental Hospital in the city for treatment.
Meanwhile, two other young men from Al-Tur and Silwan in Jerusalem were wounded when settlers tried to run them over.
The attacks have concentrated on the main settlement highways across the West Bank. In Hebron, settlers from Telem and Adora, to the west, Kiryat Arba to the east of the city, and Neghut to the south, attacked Palestinian vehicles with stones, and smashed some of their windows.
Dozens of settlers, under the protection of the Israeli army, closed the main street linking the town of Ithna with the city of Hebron, and Farsh al-Hawa Road, throwing stones at vehicles.
Settlers also attacked Palestinian vehicles near Burin, south of Nablus; Burqa, northwest of the city, near the town of Sinjil, north of Ramallah and at the northern entrance to the city of Al-Bireh.
Others attacked vehicles near Deir Sharaf, west of Nablus, and at the Zaatara checkpoint, to the south of the city.
The attacks coincide with the 46th anniversary of the first Land Day, which Palestinians have marked every 30 March since 1976, when Israeli police shot dead six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were protesting against the expropriation of Palestinian land in northern Israel for Jewish settlers.