A Palestinian couple was attacked in their West Bank home in the early morning on Friday by a group of settlers they said claimed to be Israeli soldiers in order to get into the house.
The attack – which left 55-year-old Wail Mohammed Makbal with fractured ribs, and his 46-year-old wife, Samiha, requiring medical attention after inhaling pepper spray – occurred hours after the death of a 25-year-old Jewish settler in a shooting attack in the same area of the West Bank.
A group of about 25 settlers, according to the family and local activists, showed up at the Makbals' home in Qaryut at 4 A.M.
The assailants, who have not been apprehended, went on to attack the couple, vandalizing their home, car and tractor, and shattered the window of a neighboring house.
Wail told Haaretz from his hospital bed in Nablus that his wife was woken up by knocks on the door and the noise from a window that was shattered. "I asked, 'Who are you?' and they said: 'The army,'" he recalled. "So I thought they came for a search or something like that." According to Samiha, one of the attackers was in military uniform.
"I opened the door and saw a group of at least 15 people who jumped at me with clubs and pepper sprayed me," Wail added. "I got beaten up all over my body and heard my wife screaming. I saw them destroying the house, and then I fainted and woke up in the hospital."
According to Samiha, the entire incident lasted about 15 minutes. "I stood helplessly in the middle and screamed, 'Why are you doing this? They told me to shut up and cursed me," she said.
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According to the couple's son, Ahmed, who arrived at the scene later, the settlers were divided in groups: Some came to the front door, while others were throwing stones at the house, hitting its windows and glass door.
Bashar al-Qaryuti, a local activist, said the village, which is located near several Israeli settlements and outposts, has become a frequent target for attacks by settlers. "Every time something in the West Bank happens we worry about retaliation, because it always happens here," he said.
"There were many incidents in Qaryut, but I have never seen anything like this," he said. Most times, according to al-Qaryuti, settler attacks end with "uprooting trees or throwing stones from a distance. The police arrive, they talk to some people but then nothing happens."
He said that Israeli forces came to Qaryut only at around 11 A.M. on Friday, about seven hours after the attack.
Israeli police later confirmed in a statement that "several suspects" were involved in the attack, that led to "great damage to the house and the injury of one of the residents." They added an investigation was launched into the incident.
The family's security cameras captured at least some of the settlers. Al-Qaryuti called on Israeli forces to examine security camera footage from nearby settlements. "They could know in a second who they are," he said. "Our life matters, it's important that the world hears it."