A group of Israeli settlers, including three off-duty soldiers, were rescued by the mayor of a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank on Friday after they entered the area for as-yet-unknown reasons and were quickly set upon by local residents, the army said.
The four Israelis entered the village of Qusra, east of Ariel, on Friday morning. Once inside the village, residents of the hamlet surrounded the group and began throwing rocks at them, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
In response, the armed Israelis fired shots into the air.
The mayor of the village, Abdul Azeem al-Wadi, along with an activist from the Rabbis for Human Rights organization stepped in to rescue and detain the four settlers — who apparently came from the nearby Esh Kodesh outpost — for their own safety, according to Rabbis for Human Rights.
The group was then handed over to Israeli security forces, the army said.
Residents of the village said they suspected the settlers had entered specifically to instigate clashes, according to the Rabbis for Human Rights organization.
It was not clear if the off-duty soldiers used their service weapons during the incident, or if the civilian used a personal handgun.
An IDF spokesperson said the incident is being investigated, specifically to determine why the Israelis ventured into the Palestinian village.
It was not immediately clear if the civilian and off-duty soldiers will face legal action for the incident. Requests for comment from police went unanswered.
The village of Qusra has previously seen clashes between Israeli settlers and local residents.
In 2014, a group of settlers from the Esh Kodesh outpost — led by extremist leader Meir Ettinger — were captured by Palestinians while they were allegedly en route to carry out acts of vandalism and violence in the village, in what’s often referred to as “price tag” attacks.
The group had allegedly attempted to carry out such attacks in protest over the IDF Civil Administration’s uprooting earlier in the day of a settler olive grove near Esh Kodesh.
They reportedly clashed with the Palestinian village’s residents, before being captured. Some of the settlers were apparently beaten by their captors.
After several hours, the settlers were handed over to the IDF.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.