Two Palestinian were wounded by gunfire and five others were injured by rocks in clashes on Wednesday evening in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank.
The incident occurred in the course of the eviction of Jewish settlers by Israeli authorities from an unauthorized makeshift outpost erected earlier in the day, but which settlement authorities said was simply a tent put up by a Jewish shepherd.
Left-wing Israeli activists who came to the scene of the clashes reported that settlers had fired the shots. Israeli army troops were present intermittently at the scene but were not there when the shots were fired. The windows of three Palestinian cars were shattered in the clashes.
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The outpost, which consisted of a tent in an area declared an army firing range, was set up on Wednesday morning near the Palestinian village of Khalat al-Daba. The South Hebron Hills regional council, which serves as the local government for settlements in the area, said the tent was erected by a Jewish shepherd to provide shade.
After the tent was put up, the head of the District Coordination and Liaison Office of the Israeli Civil Administration came to the scene and demanded that it be removed. The settlers removed it, but towards evening, they returned to the site with a flock of sheep.
A left-wing Israeli activist at the scene, Itai Feitelson, reported that the settlers had attempted to set an agricultural structure on fire that belonged to Palestinians. The Israeli troops then left the site, after which the settlers reportedly began firing and throwing stones. After the shooting stopped, the troops returned at the urging of the activists and lawyers who were there.
The soldiers separated the two sides and demanded that they leave. The police subsequently arrived.
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Shell casings from a pistol were found at the site on Thursday.
The spokesman’s office for the South Hebron Hills regional council of Jewish settlements said the Jews at the scene had set out that morning to graze their sheep at a site that they had a contract to use. The site is a firing zone in which Palestinians are not authorized to build. There is a long-standing court petition pending regarding Israeli authorities' plans to evict the Palestinians living there.
According to the regional council, after a Jewish shepherd erected a tent at the site to provide shade, Palestinians arrived “and the site turned into a friction point.” The army removed the Palestinians and declared the scene a closed military zone. Later in the evening, dozens of Palestinians returned and clashed with the Jews, the regional council said.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office issued a statement saying that after a report of "a violent clash between dozens of Jewish residents and dozens of Palestinians near the community of Mitzpeh Yair," Israeli army troops separated the two sides. The Israel Police did not respond for this article.