A dozen Palestinians were reportedly injured in rock attacks by Israelis over the weekend, during an annual Jewish religious pilgrimage to the Wast Bank city of Hebron.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said five people were treated for injuries at local hospitals on Saturday, including an 18-month old baby, whose family said he was hit in the head by a rock that came crashing through the window of his home in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood.
Videos posted on social media showed settlers taunting and cursing at local Palestinian residents as massive crowds converged on the city to to mark the yearly Torah reading of the biblical Abraham’s purchase of a plot to bury his wife, the biblical matriarch Sarah.
Emad Abu Shamsiyeh told Arabic-language media outlets that his infant grandson was hospitalized on Saturday, but was in stable condition.
“I heard settlers approaching and locked the house out of fear of them coming in,” Abu Shamsiyeh, a photographer and local activist, was quoted as saying. “Then I heard the boy scream and saw he was injured in his head.”
“We have been under attack by the settlers and soldiers since [Friday],” he said.
Witnesses said Jewish worshipers also attacked Palestinian businesses in the Old City throughout the day, and that Israeli security forces guarding the Jewish pilgrims did not intervene to stop the violence or harassment.
Reports in Palestinian media said another 12 Palestinians were injured in attacks by Jewish settlers and visitors in the flashpoint city on Friday evening.
The Hebron Jewish community denounced the violence, and vowed to work together with Israeli security forces to prevent attacks against Palestinians at future gatherings.
Community spokesman Yishai Fleisher told The Times of Israel the incidents were “extremely troubling” but said they were mainly perpetrated by a small number of drunk “hooligans” who did not belong to the local settlements.
“The community is unequivocally against this type of behavior. This event was supposed to be about our heritage, not about vigilante justice,” he said. ”
According to the 1997 Hebron Protocol, the West Bank’s most populous city is divided into two sections. H1 includes 80 percent of the city and lies under full Palestinian control. In H2, 800 Israeli settlers live in fortified compounds heavily guarded by the IDF amid 40,000 Palestinians, whose movements are highly restricted.
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Each year, tens of thousands of Jewish worshipers visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs– under joint Israeli-Palestinian control — for the annual pilgrimage tradition.
Police said they secured the flashpoint site, revered by both Jews and Muslims, as “tens of thousands” of worshipers thronged the area for the weekend.
The violence over the weekend comes amid a spate of anti-Palestinian hate crimes perpetrated by extremist settlers in the West Bank.
During the annual olive harvest over the last 2 months, settlers have destroyed or uprooted hundreds of Palestinian-owned trees across the West Bank in incidents often referred to as price tag attacks.
Of 97 complaints about settler attacks against Palestinian trees, followed up by Israeli rights groups Yesh Din, none have so far led to an indictment of a suspect.
Meanwhile, human rights group B’tselem has recorded 13 other price tag attacks in the West Bank in November and October, including slashed tires and hateful graffiti.