Rights group: Armed settlers in partial IDF uniform intimidate Palestinians in West Bank

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Armed and masked Israelis have been filmed entering a school in a-Tuwani, in the south Hebron Hills of the West Bank, appearing to impersonate soldiers as they tear down a Palestinian flag and intimidate local residents, the Yesh Din rights group says, citing reports from local residents.

The Israelis arrived in a car with license plates removed, were in partial IDF uniform and fled the scene upon the arrival of Israeli reserve soldiers, the left-wing group says.

There was no attempt by Israeli authorities to arrest the masked assailants.

“We’re seeing increasing occurrences of Israeli civilians dressed as soldiers in uniform carrying long weapons and inappropriately assuming authority in order to carry out harassment and violence against Palestinians,” Yesh Din says.

“We urge the authorities to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into this phenomenon. This is a misuse of military equipment and weapons intended for self-defense in an unlawful harassment of Palestinian residents,” the rights group adds.

The West Bank has seen a massive uptick in deadly settler violence since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.

The Biden administration has called on Israel to condemn and curb the phenomenon and prosecute those responsible. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that he told US President Joe Biden that a small group of extremists are responsible and that they don’t represent the settlement movement.

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