Dozens of settlers storm West Bank village, attack residents, rights groups say

Watchdogs say Israelis entered Urif, hurled stones and damaged property, claim Israeli troops then arrived and fired at residents; settlers say Palestinians instigated the clash

Dozens of Israelis stormed a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank on Saturday, vandalizing property and throwing stones at residents in an attack partially caught on video, according to rights groups.

Citing one its field researchers, the Yesh Din group said over 50 Israelis entered the village of Urif from the direction of the Yitzhar settlement, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, smashing car windows and throwing rocks at homes.

In security camera footage released by the group, a large number of masked men can be seen hurling stones at a car and a home while a Palestinian family is outside, including what Yesh Din said was a mother with her young daughter.

Residents of Urif later clashed with the Israelis, and Yesh Din said Israeli troops who arrived on the scene fired tear gas and live bullets at the villagers. It said the soldiers did not detain any of the Jewish attackers.

B’Tselem, another rights group that documents alleged Israeli human rights violations in the West Bank, released an image of an injured Palestinian man being taken away in an ambulance. A spokesman for B’Tselem was not aware how the Palestinian was hurt, but said several locals were treated for tear gas inhalation. Yesh Din said no Palestinians were injured by the settlers.

A photo released by B’Tselem on April 13, 2019, shows a Palestinian man reportedly injured during clashes in the northern West Bank village of Urif. (Adel Ammar/B’Tselem)

A spokesman for Yitzhar said the incident began after a number of Palestinians approached an almond orchard near the settlement, threw rocks and lightly injured a settler.

The spokesman said Israeli troops and the settlement security coordinator pushed the Palestinians back towards Urif. He said a group of settlers then followed to the village where a clash developed, before Border Police arrived at the scene.

An army spokesman told The Times of Israel that soldiers and Border Police used riot dispersal means to break up a clash between Israelis and Palestinians near Urif, without giving further details.

Yitzhar and its surrounding outposts are seen as an epicenter of settler violence and have often been linked to attacks on Palestinians and their property.

Far-right Israelis justify targeting Palestinians and sometimes IDF soldiers in so-called “price tag” attacks, ostensibly in retaliation for terror attacks and Israeli government actions deemed hostile to the settler movement.

In December, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report that showed a 69 percent increase in settler attacks on Palestinians in 2018 compared to 2017.

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