Palestinian cars vandalized in broad daylight in suspected attack by settlers

At least 9 vehicles damaged near Shiloh, shortly after police and army dismantle an illegal structure at outpost; no arrests

Masked settlers smash windows and puncture tires of Palestinian vehicles near Shilo on Febaury 16, 2021 (Screenshot: Twitter/Kan)
Masked settlers smash windows and puncture tires of Palestinian vehicles near Shilo on Febaury 16, 2021 (Screenshot: Twitter/Kan)

Masked vandals smashed windows and punctured tires of cars belonging to Palestinian workers near the West Bank settlement of Shiloh on Monday morning.

Footage of the suspected hate crime was caught on a security camera, capturing the moment the group — believed to be young extremist settlers, known as “hilltop youth” — damaged at least nine Palestinian cars by the entrance of the settlement.

Police spokeswoman Shlomit Bakshi said officers have launched an investigation into the incident. No suspects have been apprehended.

She said that earlier in the day, the army and Border Police had removed from a nearby settlement outpost a structure erected without authorization. Hebrew media identified the site as Alei Ayin, a small, remote cluster of buildings unauthorized by the Israeli government.

Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog, said the Alei Ayin outpost was established in 2020 near the settlement of Shiloh and the neighboring Palestinian village of Turmus Aya.

Settler violence directed toward Palestinians has spiked in recent months following the death of 16-year-old Ahuvia Sandak when his car crashed during a police chase after he allegedly hurled stones at Palestinians.

Extremist settlers often engage in so-called “price tag” attacks in retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies perceived as hostile to the settler movement. Such attacks include vandalism and other hate crimes.

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers stand by as masked Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian protesters (unseen) gathering during a demonstration against construction on an Israeli outpost near the Palestinian village of Turmusaya and the settlement of Shilo, north of Ramallah in the West Bank, October 17, 2019. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

According to the Yesh Din rights group, there were nearly 50 settler attacks targeting Palestinians in that period, including several that left young children injured.

Police said earlier Monday that they had arrested several Israelis in the West Bank who are suspected of terror activity directed at Palestinians and security forces. The Kan public broadcaster reported that the suspects included at least three Israeli Jews, aged 18 and 19. They are suspected of involvement in rock-throwing incidents that injured Palestinians, of illegally possessing weapons, and of membership in a terror organization — a serious charge seldom brought against Israelis.

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