IDF chief: Crime against soldiers by civilians unacceptable

IDF troops maced by settlers while responding to alleged attack on Palestinians

Officer and soldier from military liaison center were called to the West Bank town of al-Mughayyir due to reports of settlers destroying Palestinian olive trees

Israeli settlers are seen surrounding an IDF vehicle near the settlement of Adei Ad, October 13, 2021. (Video screenshot/courtesy)
Israeli settlers are seen surrounding an IDF vehicle near the settlement of Adei Ad, October 13, 2021. (Video screenshot/courtesy)

An Israel Defense Forces officer and soldier were lightly hurt on Wednesday evening after being maced with pepper spray by an Israeli near the illegal West Bank outpost of Adei Ad.

The military said the “serious” incident occurred after representatives of the IDF’s District Coordination and Liaison center in the Ramallah area were called to the scene due to a report of a “nationalistic crime.”

While the two soldiers were talking to a Palestinian man who reported that settlers had destroyed olive trees in the nearby town of al-Mughayyir, a number of young settlers, some of them masked, reportedly attempted to attack the man with a metal rod.

Amid the confrontation, one of the settlers sprayed pepper spray into the military vehicle, lightly hurting the two.

No arrests were immediately made, despite video footage showing other troops patrolling the area during the incident.

The IDF said the incident would be further investigated by the police.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi in a statement strongly condemned the “repeated incidents of crime and violence against IDF soldiers.

“Crime against IDF soldiers by civilians is unacceptable and requires a quick and strict response to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Kohavi said.

There are frequent reports of extremist settlers uprooting or sabotaging Palestinian olive groves in the West Bank.

The incident follows a violent settler attack on Border Police troops near the flashpoint settlement of Yitzhar in the northern West Bank on Monday night that caused injuries to at least one officer.

Monday’s incident was condemned by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. But no arrests were made.

Earlier on Wednesday, vandals sprayed nationalist slogans and damaged cars in the Palestinian village of Marda in the West Bank. Slogans daubed on walls in the community included “price tag” and “Demolish enemy [property], not Jewish.”

Olive trees found chopped down in the Palestinian village of Al-Mughayyir, on October 14, 2018. (Yesh Din)

Assault and vandalism by settlers against Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank are commonly referred to as “price tag” attacks. Perpetrators claim that they are retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies seen as hostile to the settler movement.

The olive harvest began last week. It is often marked with increased incidents of vandalism by settlers against Palestinians.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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