U.S. 'Deeply Concerned' Over Settler Attack of Convoy

State Department official says Israel has vowed to apprehend the assailants who threw rocks at American consulate convoy in the West Bank.

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Masked Jewish settlers clash with Palestinians in the West Bank village of Assira al-Kibliya, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. Credit: AP

The U.S. State Department said on Friday it is "deeply concerned by the incident where U.S. diplomatic vehicle was attacked with stones by armed settlers in the West Bank."

Settlers from the Adei Ad illegal outpost in the West Bank threw stones earlier on Friday at an American consulate convoy, which arrived at the area to examine complaints that settlers destroyed Palestinian-owned olive groves the day before.

Jeff Rathke, Director of the Office of Press Relations at the State Department, said there were no injuries, adding that the U.S. is "working with Israeli authorities in their investigation of the incident, including by offering to provide video footage taken during the incident."

The U.S. takes the safety and security of its personnel "very seriously," Rathke said. "The Israeli authorities have also communicated to us that they acknowledge the seriousness of the incident and are looking to apprehend and take appropriate action against those responsible."

Rathke also strongly denied earlier reports claiming American security guards drew their weapons. "I do want to correct one thing proactively from some of the reporting I’ve read on this incident," he said. "No American personnel drew their weapons in the course of these events. What has been reported suggesting otherwise is inaccurate."

The American diplomats from the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem arrived at the area after receiving complaints from Palestinians from the village of Turmusayya that settlers uprooted 5,000 olive saplings on Thursday. The saplings were planted in a plot which was only recently cultivated after years of legal battles. One of the landowners in the village is an American citizen, Israel Radio reported.

Upon their arrival, settlers from Adei Ad approached the convoy, a confrontation developed, and the Americans left. The bulletproof American vehicles only sustained light damage, and no one was hurt.

The area where the confrontation took place is where last month Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein died after he was involved in a confrontation with Israeli officers during a protest held as part of the struggle of Turmusiya and Al Mugheir against Adei Ad, which has taken control of their land and prevented them from cultivating it.

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