A settler, armed with a weapon of an Israeli soldier, shot at Palestinians in the West Bank, after arriving at the scene in a military jeep, a human rights group video shows.
Palestinians who were at the scene told Haaretz that the soldier gave the settler the weapon, while the Israeli military claims the settler "took the weapon from the soldier and shot in the air."
The incident, which took place on June 26 in the village of al-Tuwani, was one in a series of violent incidents that day – including rock throwing, vandalism of trees and the burning of a Palestinian building.
In a video released by rights group B’Tselem, Palestinians are seen telling the army force at the scene that a settler shot in their direction. "The soldier gave him his M-16 and stood with the army jeep really close to him, 5 to 10 meters from there,” said a resident of al-Tuwani, who stood on the roof of his home during the incident.
"With me there were 10 children on the roof and all of us shook, he didn’t fire in the air, he shot toward us,” he said. Another eyewitness, who was on the same roof, also said he saw the soldier give his gun to the settler.
"I was waiting for a bullet to hit me, he really aimed in our direction,” said another Palestinians, who filmed the incident.
According to both the Palestinians' account and the B'Tselem video, at some point the soldier drive away in his jeep, and the settler returned without a gun.
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According to Palestinian residents of that area, this was not the first time they have seen this settler near al-Tuwani.
The B'Tselem footage also shows Israeli soldiers at the scene as settlers vandalize trees. Later, a soldier was documented asking for backup.
The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit said that "a violent incident developed between settlers and Palestinians," which included "mutual rock throwing and [Palestinians] shooting fireworks at settlers. An IDF soldier collected in a military vehicle a resident who asked to direct him, and when they reached the site rocks were thrown at the vehicle. In response, the resident took the gun from the soldier and fired in the air. There were no injuries. In light of the severity of the incident, the soldier was summoned for an immediate investigation and clarification by the brigade commander, and the regulations were clarified."
This incident joins a series of incidents in the past months in which settlers shot at Palestinians as soldiers were standing by. In May, a masked soldier was documented shooting in the direction of Palestinians in the West Bank village of Urif. The footage and the details of the incident were reported first on the independent news website Local Call.
According to the IDF, the masked man is a soldier who resides in the settlement of Yitzhar. He arrived at the scene on his own initiative and was not part of the deployed force, the army said.
The IDF added that the incident is being investigated by the Military Police.
In a different case in the town of Asira al-Qabaliya, an armed settler was documented firing at Palestinians while soldiers were around the area, another masked settler was throwing stones, and another one running toward a group of Palestinians while shooting at them.
According to the IDF, the guy who was running is a member of Yitzhar's security personnel who arrived at the scene after the Palestinians tried to ascend toward Yitzhar.
In both of these incidents two Palestinians were killed, however, it is still unclear if they were killed by settlers' or military fire.