6 injured as settlers and Palestinians clash in northern West Bank

Samaria council says Jewish farmers were attacked by mob of 100 stone throwers; Biddya municipality says settlers were trying to take over Palestinian land and shot 2 farmers

Israeli security forces at the scene of clashes between settlers and Palestinians near the outpost of El Matan in the West Bank on July 5, 2020. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene of clashes between settlers and Palestinians near the outpost of El Matan in the West Bank on July 5, 2020. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

Two Palestinians were shot and wounded during a violent scuffle with settlers in the northern West Bank Sunday afternoon that also put four Israelis in the hospital.

Two Palestinians with gunshot wounds were hospitalized in moderate and light condition respectively in the nearby Salfit governorate, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said.

Four settlers were lightly injured by thrown stones during the melee and taken to Kfar Saba’s Meir Medical Center for treatment.

The clash erupted between settler youth and Palestinian farmers working land between the settlement of Maaleh Shomron and the Palestinian town of Biddya, southwest of Nablus, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Israeli police did not specify who instigated the clash.

A spokeswoman for the Samaria Regional Council said Israeli farmers were set upon with stones and clubs by 100 Palestinians. One of the farmers, who was armed, opened fire to scatter the rioters, she said.

According to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, the fight broke out due to both sides claiming the same piece of farmland, which the report called an attempted “takeover” by settlers.

Iyad Abid, a member of the Biddya Emergency Committee, told The Times of Israel that the two injured Palestinians were Biddya residents Mohannad al-Sadiq and Daoud Salameh (Abu Karim).

“The settlers say that the land is theirs, and they want to take it by force. But it belongs to private individuals in Biddya,” Abid said.

Abid added that the town had held a protest against what he said were attempts by settlers to take it over on Friday.

Asked about claims by the Samaria Regional Council spokesperson that there had been 100 Arabs who had attacked Jewish farmers, Abid claimed that the two injured were the only ones present on their land during the alleged confrontation, and that the rest only arrived after the settlers had fled.

“They shot and fled,” Abid said, referring to the settlers.

The incident came a week after the sides traded arson accusations regarding fires that broke out in nearby Burin and Givat Ronen in the northern West Bank.

Israel Fire and Rescue Services said it responded to a report of a large brush fire outside the Givat Ronen outpost, which quickly spread due to the wind and topography of the area. A fire service spokesman said that locals reported having seen Palestinians from neighboring Burin setting fire to the field outside Givat Ronen before fleeing back to their village.

As Israeli fire squads worked to put out the blaze, Palestinians from Burin filmed ten masked settlers descending from Givat Ronen, hurling stones at a construction site on the edge of the village, then setting an adjacent field on fire and fleeing back toward their outpost.

A spokesman for the Yesh Din rights group, which distributed the footage, said Burin residents had been aware of a fire that had been set an hour earlier near Givat Ronen, but said that since it had been ignited on fields belonging to their village it could not have been started by one of their own inhabitants.

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