On the outskirts of the northern West Bank village of Qasra, a 19-year-old resident recently told me that settlers are not going to stop attacking Palestinians, simply because they don’t have too. According to the man, settlers live in a world of no consequence as if removed from the normal social contract of Western societies. One look at this year’s olive harvest, taking place throughout the West Bank over the next two weeks, proves the statement to be correct.
This morning (Friday), a group of armed settlers from the illegal outpost of Ash Kodesh (Sacred/Holy Light) approached a group of Palestinians picking olives, accompanied by Israeli and international activists. The Palestinians were from the nearby village of Jalud and had been picking olives in peace until settlers descended from their outpost. The settlers claim that the Palestinians “provoked” them by throwing stones, a claim denied by the Palestinians and activists. Settlers also noted that the Palestinians did not get permission from the proverbial master of the land – the Israeli army – to have an olive harvest. You can read their fantastic understanding of how the events unfolded on Ynet.
Palestinians claim that the settler attack was driven by pure malice. As you can see in the embedded video, many settlers had covered their faces with masks, with some carrying metal poles in addition to several firearms. Had the settlers only been defending themselves, one wonders why they would cover their faces—a practice popular among setters engaged in wanton violent attacks on Palestinian civilians and their supporters.
The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement, a leftist activist outfit based in Jerusalem, posted the embedded video on Twitter, claiming that it shows a sound grenade thrown by settlers at Palestinians this morning. While this has not been independently confirmed, it comes weeks after the Israeli government announced that it would arm settlers with “less lethal”riot control gear, such as tear gas and sound grenades, ahead of feared violence surrounding the PLO statehood bid in the United Nations. West Bank settlers remain the only group in Israel/Palestine with the ability to use violence in a brash and dangerous way while suffering virtually zero consequences.