US condemns attack by West Bank settlers on Palestinian villagers
The assault, the latest in what human rights groups say has been a consistent pattern of aggressive acts by settlers in the Masafer Yatta area of ââsoutheast Hebron, has drew condemnation from the United States and the European Union, as well as Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. .
Mohammed Hussein Hamamdeh, from the village of Al Mufaqarah, told CNN that the incident began when dozens of settlers from the nearby Avigail outpost descended on the village on Tuesday afternoon, throwing stones and attacking villagers, livestock and property.
Hamamdeh’s four-year-old grandson was hit by a stone in the attack and was taken to an Israeli hospital to be treated for head injuries, he said.
A video released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem – which used the word pogrom to describe the events – showed masked men rampaging through the small farming community attacking cars and buildings.
It also showed that Israeli soldiers apparently did not intervene and, in one case, were throwing objects at a person filming the incident.
Asked to comment on Tuesday’s events, the IDF told CNN that the commander responsible for the West Bank, Major General Yehuda Fox, visited the village the next day, quoting Fox as saying that the military is ” committed to ensuring the safety of all residents of the Region. ”
The military also released a video showing soldiers in a verbal altercation with a settler.
Lapid condemned the settlers’ actions, calling them terror.
“This is not the Israeli way and it is not the Jewish way. It is a violent and dangerous fringe and we have a responsibility to bring them to justice,” he tweeted.
Lapid’s statement paved the way for the US State Department to follow suit with its own conviction.
âThe US government strongly condemns the settler violence that took place against Palestinians in villages near Hebron in the West Bank on September 28. We appreciate the strong and unequivocal condemnations of the Foreign Minister and other officials of this violence, “said a spokesperson for the US embassy. noted.
The European Union added its condemnation and said the perpetrators should be prosecuted.
But human rights groups say settlers suspected of violence against Palestinians are rarely arrested or detained, and by Friday night, up to four of five detained in Tuesday’s attack were released, according to reports. Israeli media.
According to another human rights group, Breaking the Silence, while incidents like Tuesday’s represent one of the worst settler violence in the region in years, other types of intimidation against Palestinians localities, such as the theft of goats and sheep, pollution of water tanks, and attacking children on their way to school, are an almost daily occurrence.
Mohammed Hamamdeh told CNN he remains defiant.
âThey just want us all to move away from our lands, but they will only see this in their dreams. They think that if they break our properties and our homes and beat us, they will break our resistance and our dignity. But here we are, and we stay here until the last drop of blood, âhe said.
This story has been updated.