A Jewish settler pelted a car of two left-wing activists with stones, lightly wounding them as they were on their way to protest the eviction of some 1,000 Palestinians from the Masafer Yatta region in the West Bank on Friday.
Another settler used his car to block the activists' route near the outpost of Mitzpe Yair as other activists were leaving the demonstration. While in their car, stones were hurled at the activists, wounding two of the three who were in the vehicle. The settler later fled to the nearby outpost.
Itai Feitelson, the unharmed activist riding the vehicle, said both the Israeli army and police were present, but that no arrests were made. According to Feitelson, a complaint was filed with the police. Among the troops at the scene was also Col. Yishai Rozilio, who commands the brigade in charge of the Hebron area.
The Israeli army said in a statement that some 250 people, including settlers, activists and Palestinians participated in the protest, which took place in an area that the army had declared a "closed military zone in order to prevent clashes between the parties."
"An incident was reported involving two activists and several settlers who hurled stones at them. A military force deployed in the area spotted the incident and intervened by pushing back the settlers," the army statement read, adding that police were called to the scene and the activists received treatment.
Commenting on the incident, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said that "a rock could kill and whoever throws one is a terrorist, even if they are Jewish. Police are working to locate this group of outlaws.
"As far as I'm concerned, there's no difference between them and Palestinian terrorists hurling stones to kill Jews," Bar-Lev added.
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Masafer Yatta, near Hebron, was declared a military firing zone in 1981. In May, Israel's High Court of Justice ruled that the state could expel the residents so that the military can hold training exercises there. Prior to the May ruling, a court order was in effect that gave the residents permission to remain there, but prohibited them from building additional structures.
The area, made up of eight villages, is at the center of a two-decade legal dispute that began after Israel expelled residents from there in 1999. It is home to an estimated 1,000 to 1,800 people.