A Palestinian family was forced to flee under a barrage of stones when an angry mob of Israeli settlers stormed the village during tension in the West Bank. None of them were detained, human rights groups say.
Human rights groups Yesh Din and B’Tselem said that around 50 Israeli settlers from Yitzhar in the West Bank entered the neighboring Palestinian village of Urif on Saturday, smashing windows of cars and hurling stones at houses.
Security camera footage from Urif shows a group of masked men run down the road and throw stones at a family as they were about to get into a car. The father and the hijab-clad mother rush to grab their children and then flee in the house, while several of the stones hit the vehicle’s roof. The mob then proceeds to attack another car, parked nearby.
B’Tselem released photos of masked men roaming the area, some holding stones, while the IDF soldiers are standing at the background. The rights group reported that the soldiers used tear gas and live rounds against the Palestinians and didn’t detain any settlers.
Palestinian residents of the village ‘Urif suffer from frequent incidents of settler violence. Earlier today, following yet another settler’s attack, Israeli soldiers arrived to the scene and threw teargas canisters at the Palestinians . Photos: ‘Adel Ammar pic.twitter.com/cJcxPnO2oO
— B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) April 13, 2019
The IDF confirmed that there was “friction” between the Israelis and the Palestinians that day, with soldiers and the Border Police dispersing the crowd. The army didn’t provide additional details of the incident.
The settlers offered a different account of what happened. The spokesperson for Yitzhar told reporters that the conflict began when the Palestinians approached the community and threw stones, lightly injuring a settler. The IDF arrived at the scene and pushed the Palestinians back to Urif, where they were followed by a group of settlers, the spokesperson said.
Yitzhar and the surrounding area remains one of the hotspots for settler violence in the West Bank. Just between January 2017 and March 2018, Yesh Din recorded 40 cases when settlers and “other Israeli civilians” came from Yitzhar to attack the residents of six nearby Palestinian villages.
All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal by the UN. Human rights campaigners view them as one of the main obstacles to reach lasting peace based on a two-state formula. Israeli right-wing politicians, on the other hand, believe that Jews have the right to settle in the West Bank on what they view as ancestral Jewish lands.