Soldiers Stood by as Yitzhar Settlers Hurled Rocks

The Israel Defense Forces is investigating why soldiers did not act to stop West Bank settlers throwing stones at nearby Asira al-Qibliya village; Settlers say they threw stones after Jewish-owned field near settlement torched.

The army is investigating why soldiers did nothing to stop residents of the northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar from throwing stones at homes in the adjacent village of Asira al-Qibliya last Sunday.

Yitzhar residents said they threw the stones in response to the torching of a Jewish-owned field near the settlement.

IDF in Asira al-Qibliya - AFP - July 10 2011

Residents of Asira al-Qibliya said about 20 people came down the hill from Yitzhar toward the village, tearing branches from their olive trees and throwing stones at their homes. Homes were reportedly damaged, and one man, Abd al-Rahim Ahmed, 28, was taken to a Nablus hospital for treatment after being beaten with a club.

The villagers said they would not file police complaints because they were tired of the police doing nothing.

Video shot by a villager for the human rights group B'Tselem shows that soldiers from the Kfir Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces Central Command as well as Border Police officers were at the site of the incident and did not interfere.

IDF cameras installed on the slope between Asira al-Qibliya and Yitzhar transmit images in real time. Four vehicles carrying soldiers and border police were dispatched to the scene.

The villager's video showed soldiers standing near a home at the edge of the village and watching, from a distance of about 50 meters, as settlers threw rocks.

The Central Command has in the past tried to put an end to situations in which its soldiers stand by and do nothing in such circumstances.

B'Tselem said in response: "None of those harmed will waste time filing a complaint because the authorities systematically avoid enforcing the law when settlers attack them. On Sunday [today], B'Tselem will submit complete documentation of the incident to the police and the army and demand that the attacking settlers be identified and an investigation be launched into why the soldiers did not enforce the law."

The IDF Spokesman's Office said: "The contents of the video will be examined by the relevant officials. The IDF is committed to protect residents and their property, both Israeli and Palestinian."