Settlers from the radical Yitzhar settlement attack Palestinians in Urif and Huwwara, just one day after Israeli activists were assaulted by masked settlers in the Jordan Valley.
By Yali (Yael) Marom
Dozens of Jewish settlers assaulted Palestinians in two separate West Bank villages on Saturday, just one day after settlers attacked and injured left-wing Israelis in the Jordan Valley.
Israelis from the radical Yitzhar settlement carried out two waves of attacks on the village of Urif, near Nablus. Four Palestinians were injured in the initial assault, and although residents of the village alerted Israeli security forces about the violence, the soldiers and police who arrived on the scene simply ordered the attackers away and did not arrest anyone.
Shortly after, an even bigger group of settlers returned to Urif and started attacking again. A building in the village was damaged and car windshields smashed. This time round, the army entered the village, only to fire rubber bullets at Palestinians who were trying to drive the settlers back by throwing stones at them. According to witnesses, the settlers then started uprooting olive trees, even starting a fire.
A few hours later, Israelis from Yitzhar set out for a further round of violence, this time in the village of Huwwara, also close to Nablus. They threw stones, smashed windows and attacked Palestinians, injuring three — including a woman who received a head wound. According to B’Tselem, her injury was serious, although not life-threatening.
Zacharia Sadeh, of Rabbis for Human Rights, said that the settlers who attacked Huwwara passed an IDF outpost on their way to the village.
“They should have reported the settlers heading down [to the village], and they could have prevented three people from being hurt,” he said. “The security forces make no effort to stop these attacks on Palestinians, and do nothing to protect the lives of Palestinians.”
On Friday, a group of Israeli activists with Ta’ayush were attacked by masked settlers from the Baladim outpost, also known for its extremism. The activists, who were in the Jordan Valley in order to assist Palestinian shepherds who were under threat of violence from the settlers, were attacked with stones and clubs, leaving five injured.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman commented on the violence on Sunday, but only condemned the fact that an Israeli army officer had been attacked by settlers, and ignored the assault on Palestinians. Rabbis for Human Rights, responding to Liberman’s statement, said that while “attacking an IDF officer is indeed serious,” failing to mention the heart of the matter — violence against dozens of Palestinians — “sends the implicit message that attacking Palestinians isn’t no big deal provided [Israeli] security forces aren’t assaulted at the same time.”
Indeed, as is customary in the face of settler violence, the Israeli forces who arrived on the scene felt no obligation to open fire on the Israeli stone throwers, had apparently left their tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at home, and suddenly knew how to restrain themselves.
The fact that settlers are allowed to continue their attacks undisturbed reveals, over and over, the shared interests of the landlords of the West Bank’s hilltops, and the armed forces who serve them.
Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.