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Israeli Soldiers Stand by as Settlers Pelt Palestinians With Rocks

A fire broke out near a West Bank village, leading to a confrontation between the two parties, with each side blaming the other

Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger
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Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

Settlers were filmed Friday throwing rocks at Palestinians in the West Bank as Israeli troops watched without intervening.

Settlers attack Palestinians while the Israeli army stands by, Asira al-Qibliya, May 2019

The incident took place near Asira al-Qibliya, a village close to the settlement of Yitzhar.

The video, taken by Palestinians at a home in the village, shows settlers close to the house, throwing rocks at nearby houses. Four soldiers standing among the settlers take no action to stop them.

>> Read more: I was a settler. I know how settlers become killers | Opinion

The incident came after fires broke out between Yitzhar and Asira al-Qibliya, with settlers and Palestinians accusing each other of setting them. Villagers told activists from the human rights group Yesh Din that the fire began between Asira al-Qibliya and the adjacent village of Urif, and that settlers began throwing rocks and setting additional fires among its homes.

A spokesman for Yitzhar said Palestinians from Urif set the fires in order to damage the adjacent settlements of Har Bracha and Sneh Yaakov.

In a written statement, the Spokesperson’s Unit of the Israel Defense Forces said that army and Border Police troops, together with civilian volunteers, worked to extinguish a fire set by Palestinians near Asira al-Qibliya that was approaching Yitzhar and a military outpost.

“Around 20 settlers neared Asira al-Qibliya and began throwing stones. The soldiers called on them to desist and called Border Policemen as reinforcements, while trying to find the villagers who had started the fires. The gathering was dispersed shortly afterwards by Border Policemen. Security forces will continue to act to prevent violence and defend the security of local residents,” the statement said.

The IDF also said it put up a fence between Yitzhar and Urif after settlers assaulted villagers on April 13. In that incident, settlers were filmed throwing rocks at a vehicle driven by a Palestinian family. In addition to the fence, the Border Police increased its presence in the area.

In a letter responding to a question from Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg, the office of IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said that in addition to erecting the fence, “significant Border Police forces were added to the area, maintaining an around-the-clock presence.”

In response, Zandberg said it was unacceptable that increasing numbers of soldiers have to engage in daily policing missions among a civilian population that is a victim of settler aggression. “The incitement-preaching yeshiva in Yitzhar should be shut down. The settlement has become an incubator of Jewish terror and should be evacuated.”

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