Israeli Settlers Pepper Spray Red Cross Workers Monitoring Palestinian Olive Harvest

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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A Palestinian man picks olives near Nablus, earlier this month.
A Palestinian man picks olives near Nablus, earlier this month.Credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

Settlers attacked Red Cross employees observing the Palestinian olive harvest in the West Bank with pepper spray on Tuesday, leading to three workers to receive medical treatment.

The Red Cross employees were accompanied by representatives of the Civil Administration, the Israeli government body that enacts its civilian policy in the West Bank.

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According to one of the Red Cross workers, he and his colleagues were going to speak with farmers in the area near the Palestinian village of Burin, which is next to the settlement of Yitzhar, in order to understand their needs in terms of coordinating the olive harvest with the Civil Administration. They saw a large group of settlers standing on a hill before six of them descended, some spraying the pepper spray, he said.

The employee said such visits are part of the Red Cross’s regular work in the area and that he had never experienced such an attack. He said the Red Cross team submitted a complaint to police over the issue.

The Red Cross said in a statement that it condemned all violence and threats against its employees.

The incident came a day after a settler attacked a member of the Rabbis for Human Rights organization with pepper spray while he was accompanying Palestinian farmers harvesting olives. Video footage showed that several Israeli soldiers were present during the attack, but none of them stopped or detained the settler. The organization’s employee was evacuated to the hospital with light wounds and was released shortly thereafter.

Earlier this month, Palestinians harvesting near the village of Yasuf were pelted with rocks and a woman was pepper sprayed.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations recently condemned settler violence against Palestinians, specifically referencing an attack on a Palestinian village by dozens of settlers.

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