Settlers injured three Palestinians shepherds on Saturday near the village of Aqraba in the northern West Bank, while Israel Defense Force soldiers didn't intervene, Palestinian sources say. The IDF says it is investigating the incident.
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According to Palestinian media, which cited anti-Settlement activist Hamza Diriyeh, the armed settlers, apparently members of a civilian local emergency response team, held five shepherds on Saturday morning in Khirbet Yanoun. According to the reports, they set a car belonging to one of them on fire, while threatening them with their weapons. Residents of the village who arrived at the scene confronted the settlers, who then opened fire at the shepherds and injured three of them, the sources said.
One of the village residents who witnessed the incident said that the Israeli soldiers who arrived at the scene did not act to stop the settlers' violence, while a number of the shepherds and residents of the village were arrested and taken to a military base south of Nablus.
Residents of the village said that some of the settlers involved in the incident wore Israel Defense Forces uniforms. Ghassan Daglas, who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank, said the three shepherds injured by the settlers' gunfire suffered light to moderate injuries to their limbs or abdomen, and were evacuated to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus.
According to the IDF, however, the force that arrived tried to disperse a confrontation that started between two shepherds and included rock throwing.
Later, the IDF said, the force entered the village and more confrontations broke out there, including rocks being thrown at the soldiers.
The army said the soldiers responded by firing tear gas grenades and also gunfire towards the air - but the IDF says it does not know of any injuries incurred as a result of the shooting. The IDF added that it is examining a report that settlers also fired during the incident.
Member of civilian local emergency response team documented shooting an IDF weapon in Aqraba, Saturday, January 3, 2015. Courtesy of Aqraba municipality
Day after settler confrontation with U.S. consulate staff
On Thursday, settlers reportedly destroyed approximately 5,000 Palestinian-owned olive groves in the village of Turmusayya.
After an American consulate convoy arrived on the scene to investigate on Friday, settlers from the Adei Ad illegal outpost in the West Bank threw stones at the convoy.
Meretz chief Zahava Gal-On responded to the incident, accusing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon of granting the settlers political cover, "giving them the feeling that anything is permitted and all is forgiven and above the law."
Gal-on additionally called on Ya'alon to prosecute the responsible settlers, "before it causes unnecessary and harmful confrontation with the United States."