A settler attacked on Monday a member of the Rabbis for Human Rights organization with pepper spray while he was accompanying Palestinian farmers as they harvested olives in the West Bank.
The attack took place on lands belonging to villagers of Awartha, near the settlement of Itamar.
Video footage shows 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.
Rabbis for Human Rights sends volunteers every year to help Palestinians in the West Bank harvest their olives. Daniel Roth, the harvest coordinator present, said there were about 20 volunteers who joined the Palestinian farmers harvesting in coordination with the Israeli army. However, when settlers arrived to the scene and one of them began threatening the activists, he says the soldiers “didn’t do much.”
Later on, as video footage shows, a settler who cursed at the activists also sprayed one of the organization’s employees with pepper spray. One of the soldiers pulled him away from the activists, but, according to the activists' reports, did not arrest or detain the assailant. “Soldiers do the bare minimum to stop settler violence and this is another example," said Roth.
Director of Rabbis for Human Rights Avi Dabush said that “the attack on harvesters today joins the series of attacks on an almost daily basis by Jewish terrorists, sometimes against Palestinian farmers and their property, sometimes against activists who come to help the farmers, and sometimes against the army itself."
Dabush called on "someone in the government to come to their senses and act to uproot these terrorist organizations... Until then, the next attack is just a matter of time.”
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Two years ago, masked assailants attacked Rabbi Moshe Yehudai, an activist in his 80s, with iron bars during the olive harvest at Burin village nearby. He was evacuated to the hospital with fractures in his arm. Last week, settlers sprayed an officer, a soldier and a Palestinian near the settlement of Adei Ad. Some two weeks ago, Palestinians harvesting near the village of Yasuf were pelted with rocks and a woman was attacked with pepper spray.
The Israeli army's spokesperson said that soldiers acted on the scene and transferred the details of the incident to the Israel Police.