Masked Israeli settlers were caught on video Saturday throwing stones at Palestinians near the village of A-Tuwani in the southern Hebron Hills, while Israeli soldiers stood by and did nothing to stop it.
According to the IDF, Palestinians lobbed firecrackers and stones at settlers during clashes in the area. The army did not respond to the claim that the soldiers refused to intervene, and said the soldiers had used anti-riot measures to separate the two sides.
The incident began when masked men came to Wadi Humra, near the Havat Maon outpost, where there are private Palestinian lands that a 2013 military order bans Israelis from entering. According to Palestinian and Israeli activists, the masked men assaulted a Palestinian activist at the site, injuring him in the head and the back.
At a certain point, the masked men and the Palestinians came up from the valley toward the road connecting A-Tuwani to the village of Khirbat Al-Mufkara, where the masked men were filmed stoning the Palestinians as Israeli soldiers stood by. Finally, everyone was removed from the area and the Palestinians filed a police complaint about the incident.
According to one of the Palestinian activists, Bassel al-Adra, when the masked men reached the valley, the activists called the police to report that they had entered the area. In the phone call, recorded by Israeli activist Itai Feitelson at the site, the police officer is heard telling al-Adra that since the area does not belong to him, the landowners must submit a complaint themselves. The officer is heard telling Feitelson that security forces have been called to the site and warned him to leave or he would be arrested for violating a military order.
According to al-Adra, the masked men and the Palestinians began throwing stones at each other and after that another group of masked men arrived armed with sticks and some of them began to beat a Palestinian activist. The Palestinian was taken to the hospital and released shortly thereafter. At some point, the activists said one of the masked men fired into the air. The masked men and the Palestinians then came up from the valley to the road connecting two Palestinian villages, where the stone-throwing was filmed. According to the Palestinians, when soldiers arrived, they fired tear gas at them.
Qamar Mashriqi, the attorney representing the residents of A-Tuwani and the landowners, said that over the years she has sent numerous letters to security officials reporting assaults and Israelis violating the military order banning entry to Wadi Humra. “Since the coronavirus pandemic the level of violence has grown worse, especially the use of guns and arson, backed by security forces at the site, who do not enforce the order and prevent the assaults, which moreover take place in their presence,” Masriqi said.
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Meanwhile, according to security officials, on Saturday settlers and Palestinians clashed and threw stones in the area of the Shiloh Valley in central West Bank, near a Palestinian asphalt factory. Two Israelis were slightly injured in the incident, one of whom received medical attention at the scene. On Friday, settlers held afternoon prayers in the area opposite the factory. The factory is in Area B, where according to the Oslo Accords, Palestinians can build without Israeli permits.
The IDF responded to the incident in the southern Hebron Hills: “Violent friction developed at the site between a few settlers and Palestinians near Havat Maon in the region of the Judah Brigade, during which stones were thrown by both sides and firecrackers where thrown at the settlers. An IDF force acted to separate the two sides, using riot-control means.”