Palestinian girl briefly hospitalized after alleged settler attack

MKs denounce violence as work of ‘dangerous, extremist minority’; rights group: 41 attacks by settlers on Palestinians since controversial death of hilltop youth in a police chase

Hala Mashhour Qat, an 11-year-old Palestinian girl, recovers at a hospital, after an alleged stone-throwing attack by ultranationalist settlers. (Madama Resident/ Yesh Din)
Hala Mashhour Qat, an 11-year-old Palestinian girl, recovers at a hospital, after an alleged stone-throwing attack by ultranationalist settlers. (Madama Resident/ Yesh Din)

A Palestinian girl was lightly injured on Sunday afternoon in what her relatives say was a stone-throwing attack by Israelis from a nearby settlement known for its ideological extremism.

Hala Mashhour Qat — an 11-year-old girl from Madama, a town south of Nablus — was taken to a nearby hospital after being struck by a rock during the stone-throwing attack, which her family alleged was committed by “dozens of settlers” from the nearby Israeli settlement of Yitzhar. She was subsequently released and sent home.

According to Qat’s uncle, Hatem Qat, he was alone in his house next door to Hala’s when the settlers showed up and began throwing stones. Hala was playing outside at the time next to the house, and the settlers began throwing stones in her direction, he said.

The stones smashed windows in his house, as well as in Hala’s, and she was struck in the face by one of the stones as she sought to flee, he said.

“They attacked her and she fled inside,” Qat recounted. “After they left, we gathered our things and quickly took her to Nablus, and, thank God, she wasn’t too badly wounded.”

The Israel Police announced that they had opened an investigation into the incident.

“After a report was received by the police, an investigation was opened, in which various actions are being taken,” police said in a response to a query by The Times of Israel.

A spokesperson for the Yitzhar settlement did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the Yesh Din rights group, 41 settler attacks against Palestinians have taken place in recent weeks.

The notable increase in ultranationalist violence comes after 16-year-old Ahuvia Sandak was killed in a police chase after allegedly hurling stones at Palestinians in late December.

Sandak, a resident of Bat Ayin, was fleeing Border Police in a car with three other hilltop youth when his car flipped over, killing him. According to police, Sandak’s group fled police before losing control of their vehicle. Sandak’s defenders view his death as execution by cop; they allege that the police car hit his vehicle from behind, causing it to run off the road.

Sandak’s death ignited weeks of near-nightly protest in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Demonstrators have thrown stones, attacked buses, and blocked major thoroughfares. In turn, police have responded forcefully, including apparently beating a protester in one widely circulated clip.

People protest over the death of Ahuvia Sandak in a car crash during a police chase, near the Police Internal Investigations Department in Jerusalem on January 2, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Yitzhar and the outposts which orbit it, such as Kumi Ori, Shalhevet Farm, and Mitzpe Yizhar, are frequent sites of clashes with Israeli security forces and their Palestinian neighbors.

“They throw stones at us all the time, but normally from a nearby hilltop. This time they entered our village and smashed our windows,” Qat said in a phone call with The Times of Israel.

Meretz MK Yair Golan, a retired major-general who served as deputy chief of staff in the military, warned that the violence could ignite a Palestinian backlash.

“This rampage could set all of Judea and Samaria ablaze and could cause great damage to all Israeli citizens. The price would be paid first by our soldiers and police, who will be forced to deal with the actions of a dangerous, extremist minority,” said Golan.

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