Police Investigating Hebron Settlers Attack on Palestinian, Israeli Soldier

Police says several suspects already summoned for questioning after two Palestinians and Israeli soldier were attacked by settlers in two separate incidents

Hagar Shezaf
Jack Khoury
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Hagar Shezaf
Jack Khoury

Israel Police said on Sunday it is investigating an incident in which a group of settlers in Hebron attacked on Friday a Palestinian man and an Israeli soldier who attempted to extricate him from the situation.

Police said in a statement that an investigation was initiated once the report of the incident was filed, during which evidence was collected, including a video documenation of the attack.

Video footage showing settlers attacking a Palestinian in Hebron, the West Bank.

"On Saturday night, investigators acted to identify and locate the suspects involved in the incident and some have already been summoned for questioning," the statement said, adding that several witnesses were also interviewed.

The police chief of staff praised the behavior of the soldier who "prevented the injury of a Palestinian civilian," and noted that "nationalist violence is a crime that must be prevented, denounced, and dealt with in the fullest extent of the law," said a joint statement by the police and army on Sunday. 

In addition, Hebron residents said that settlers caused damage to several vehicles in the city and hurled glass bottles at a Palestinian man in the city.

A Palestinian car vandalized in Hebron, the West Bank, June 13, 2020.
A Palestinian car vandalized in Hebron, the West Bank, June 13, 2020.

On Friday, two Palestinians were attacked by Israeli settlers in two separate incidents in the West Bank city of Hebron, with one of them hospitalized in mild condition.

The army said it has identified the suspects, all residents of the Israeli settlement in Hebron and some yeshiva students.

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who represents several suspects, said they claim that "the Arabs teased them." 

Ibrahim Bader, a Hebron resident who witnessed one of the incidents, told Haaretz that settlers assailed his brother Mohammed near an Israeli army post. "Four settlers attacked him, and one soldier witnessed what was going on."

Bader required medical attention, his brother said, and was taken by the soldiers to a hospital in the city.

Footage of a second incident shows a group of settlers beating a Palestinian man in Hebron's Old City. A soldier can be seen trying to stop the settlers and removing the Palestinian man from the area.

Issa Amro, a local activist and the founder of Youth Against the Settlements, told Haaretz that in recent days there has been a spike in acts of violence and vandalism by settlers against Palestinians residing in the city, particularly on the road leading from the settlement of Kiryat Arba to the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron.

According to Amro, settlers attack Palestinians and vandalize their property, while Israel Police and army forces are stationed in Hebron and are aware of the violence.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the soldier who helped the Palestinian victim "acted as is expected of any soldier in the Israel Defense Forces." He added in a tweet that the IDF is "committed to civilians' safety wherever it operates."

Joint List lawmaker Ofer Cassif said that "the gangs of settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories are working overtime to attack Palestinians. A case where a soldier prevents the lynching of a Palestinian... is the exception. The army usually stands by or takes a part."

More than 50 Members of U.S. Congress have signed a public letter calling on President Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, to denounce violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, in the same manner that he condemns violence committed by Palestinians against Israelis.

The lawmakers, all Democrats, urged Friedman to address the issue in light of a rise in the number of reported cases of violence committed by settlers against Palestinians in recent months. They emphasized in the letter that they are “concerned with all violence in the West Bank”, whether it is committed by Israelis or Palestinians.

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