West Bank: Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers and torch vehicles
Palestinian media reported that settlers from Adei Ad illegal settlement, northeast of Ramallah, assaulted Palestinians working on their land between Turmus Ayya and al-Mughayyir villages in the centre of the West Bank.
Settlers threw stones and fired bullets at farmers, wounding at least five people. One of the victims is in a serious condition after being shot in the head by Israeli soldiers who accompanied the settlers.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said four injuries were a result of beatings and stones thrown by settlers. Those victims are in a stable condition.
Around 270 bales of hay and five cars parked on the side of the fields were torched, according to Marzouq Abu Naim, a councillor at al-Mughayyir village.
Abu Naim said that Israeli forces stormed the area "to provide protection for the settlers", leading to clashes between young men and soldiers.
Amin Abu Alia, the president of al-Mughayyir village council, said that "settlers used live bullets, stones and sticks" in the assault.
"The Israeli army intervened to protect the settlers, firing teargas canisters at the Palestinian farmers," he added.
Abu Alia said the two main entrances to al-Mughayyir, which has been repeatedly attacked by settlers over the years, have remained blocked by the Israeli military for two weeks, forcing residents to take long and rough roads to reach their workplaces.
On Thursday, Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians from al-Mughayyir village.
The European Union Delegation to the Palestinians said it was "appalled" by the settler attacks.
"The EU condemns settler violence and calls on Israel to take decisive steps to ensure accountability and protect the Palestinian civilian population in line with its obligations under international law," it said in a Tweet.
While Israeli settler violence against Palestinians is common in the West Bank, attacks have grown at an alarming rate in recent years, according to UN human rights experts.
Human rights groups have previously accused Israeli authorities of enabling settler violence and failing to prosecute offenders or protect Palestinians.
“Armed and masked Israeli settlers are attacking Palestinians in their homes, attacking children on their way to school, destroying property and burning olive groves, and terrorising entire communities with complete impunity,” UN experts said last year.
“Disturbing evidence of Israeli forces frequently facilitating, supporting and participating in settler attacks makes it difficult to discern between Israeli settler and State violence,” they added.
Nearly 700,000 settlers live in more than 250 settlements and outposts across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law.