The head of a Jewish human rights organization was attacked Friday by a masked Jewish man near a settlement in the West Bank. The incident, which was caught on video, was labeled by the police as an altercation between left and right wing activists.
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The Jewish assailant was seen accosting Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who heads Rabbis For Human Rights, and threatening him with a knife during a Palestinian olive harvest near the Jewish settlement of Itamar. The Israel Police's political crimes unit has opened an investigation into the incident.
According to Rabbi Ascherman, the incident occurred when he and a Palestinian returned from the harvest and saw a Jewish settler attempting to steal olives from the orchard while another was allegedly setting some of the trees on fire. Ascherman said he moved toward the fire, approaching the settler.
In the video, which begins at this point, Ascherman is attacked by the masked man, who beats him and throws a rock at him, before pulling out the knife. Ascherman is seen attempting to defend himself and confronting another man at the scene before the masked attacker hits him again, swinging his knife at the rabbi before fleeing the scene.
The police described the incident as "friction between left wing and right wing activists during the [Palestinian] olive harvest." The police said that officers were canvasing the area and that an investigation has been opened in coordination with security forces. The police said they view such incidents with the utmost severity and have "zero tolerance" toward any lawbreakers.