Seven human rights activists were lightly injured following a settler attack on Friday near the Palestinian village of Burin in the West Bank.
The activists had been in Burin, south of Nablus to help Palestinian farmers plant trees in areas that had been damaged or vandalized in the past. Many of the human rights workers were older, and they came from the organizations Rabbis for Human Rights, Olive Harvest Coalition, Machsom Watch and Bekaa Coalition.
According to some of the activists, the group of around 15 masked assailants came from the nearby illegal outpost of Giv'at Ronen, fleeing the scene before IDF soldiers arrived at the scene.
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Footage from the scene depicts a group of masked people attacking activists who had come to help Palestinian farmers plant trees with clubs, hurling stones at them and setting one of their cars on fire.
Doron Meinrat, one of the seven activists who were injured, is still hospitalized at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva after undergoing surgery on his arm, which was broken in the attack.
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Yesha Council, the umbrella organization for municipal councils of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, said it was "shocked by images of this unusual attack." The council also said that the attack "contradicts the values of the people of Israel and harms settlement efforts."
Police said on Saturday evening that they have yet to arrest suspects in the attack, and that the Shin Bet security service is also involved in the investigation. The defense establishment is familiar with the outpost of Givat Ronen, which is near where the attack occurred, as a source of past acts of violence against the village of Burin.
According to data from the Yesh Din NGO, there were 13 documented acts of violence and vandalism against Palestinian villages in the area in 2021.
Avi Dabush, the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, decried the attack and called on Israeli ministers to take action in order to stop the attacks.
The IDF spokesperson said in response that once the event was reported to them troops were dispatched, however the attackers "dispersed before forces arrived."
Later on Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said its crews treated 88 people who sustained light injuries during clashes that developed with the military in the Nablus area.
In Beit Dajan near Nablus 17 Palestinians inhaled tear gas, and in the West Bank village of Beita nine were injured by rubber bullets. Of these, eight were treated at the scene and one sent for further medical treatment.
'Settler violence perpetuates the occupation'
Joint List lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman said that "settler violence is not a side effect of the occupation, it's in its foundations and is a tool to perpetuate it. Firstly, against Palestinians in order to expel them from the land, and then against Israeli activists in order to prevent solidarity and a joint struggle. Uprooting this violence means uprooting the settlements."
Labor lawmaker Gilad Kariv condemned the event as "a disgrace." He urged defense and public security ministers to draft a plan to protect Palestinians and activists.
Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster said that “efforts by the IDF, the Shin Bet and Israel Police and prosecution to stop these violent Israelis will continue." Schuster said that the attackers "sabotage the safety of the country, and are a shame to the Israeli settlement [project] in the West Bank."
Joint List MK Ayman Odeh pinned the incident on the government's backing of settlers. "The government is expanding budgets for the settlements, dubs the settlers 'the best of our sons' and strikes deals with Evyatar and Homesh. The policy that entrenches the occupation is the understructure of settlers' violence."