Settlers attack Palestinian civilians following deadly shootings

After a string of shootings left three Israelis dead, hundreds of settlers block roads across the West Bank, harassing Palestinian drivers and damaging their vehicles.

By Meron Rapoport

Israeli settlers threw stones at and blocked Palestinian vehicles late last week, hours after a Palestinian gunman killed two soldiers outside a settlement outpost near Ramallah.

Hundreds of settlers blocked roads across the West Bank, harassing Palestinian drivers and damaging their vehicles. According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, settler attacks took place in 28 locations across the West Bank. Meanwhile, two Israeli soldiers were suspended over the weekend after they tried to release settlers who had been arrested on Saturday for throwing stones at Palestinian homes.

There has also been a violent string shootings by Palestinians against Israeli settlers in the West Bank over the past week. On December 9th, a Palestinian gunmen opened fire at settlers near the Ofra settlement, wounding seven, including a 21-year-old pregnant woman. Doctors prematurely delivered her infant in an emergency C-section hours later; the baby died in a Jerusalem hospital on Wednesday.

“Within 24 hours of the attack, we received dozens if not hundreds of reports of Israeli citizens throwing stones at [Palestinian] homes and cars, including a number of injuries,” said Yesh Din Executive Director Lior Amihai.

The attacks on Palestinian civilians elicited a rare condemnation from Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s envoy to the Middle East. “Throwing rocks at vehicles who have nothing to do with these attacks is NOT a legitimate response. Innocent people could be killed.”

Settler violence against Palestinians is a frequent occurrence in the occupied territories, and is often fatal. In October, a Palestinian woman was killed when Israeli settlers threw stones at her vehicle near Nablus. Settlers routinely refer to attacks against Palestinian civilians as “price tag” attacks, with the stated goal of deterring Israeli government from taking administrative and criminal steps against them and the settler movement.

Following the shooting attacks, Israeli troops sealed off Ramallah over the weekend, leading to clashes with Palestinian protesters. On Saturday morning, the Israeli army demolished a home belonging to the Abu Hamid family in Ramallah’s al-Amari refugee camp; Islam Yousef Abu Hamid is accused of killing an Israeli soldier during a military raid on the camp earlier this year. According to the Red Crescent, 36 Palestinians were wounded in confrontations that broke out when the army entered the camp.

A total of 300 Palestinians have been wounded by both IDF as well as Palestinian security forces over the weekend. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that Mahmoud Yousef Nakhla, 18, was shot in the stomach and killed by the Israeli army during clashes in Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah on Friday.

Meron Rapoport is an editor at Local Call, where a version of this article first appeared in Hebrew. Read it here.