Palestinians, settlers trade accusations of arson in West Bank
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Palestinians, settlers trade accusations of arson in West Bank

Burin residents say 3 fires started in village, settlers reportedly seen fleeing from scene; Yitzhar blames Palestinians for fire outside the settlement

A fire is seen burning in the northern West Bank village of Burin on July 6, 2018. (Yesh Din)
A fire is seen burning in the northern West Bank village of Burin on July 6, 2018. (Yesh Din)

Palestinians accused settlers on Friday of starting fires in a northern West Bank village, while a nearby Jewish settlement blamed Palestinians for starting a fire near it.

Residents of Burin said fires broke out at three different locations in the village, according to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, who quoted a villager saying he saw a group of settlers seen fleeing from one of the blazes.

Yesh Din said the fires, which also spread toward the nearby village of Hawwara, were located on land residents must coordinate with the army to access. Burin residents told the rights group that the Israel Defense Forces would not allow firefighters to reach the site of the fires.

In the settlement of Yitzhar, southwest of Burin, residents accused Palestinians from the village of Urif starting a fire outside the settlement. A spokesman for Yitzhar said the fire approached homes in the western part of the settlement.

The spokesman also said Israeli security forces entered Urif where they dispersed a “violent riot by dozens of Arabs.”

The area around Yitzhar has seen a series of alleged hate crime attacks in recent months, with the Israeli security establishment viewing the settlement as the source of the so-called “price tag” attacks.

“Price tag” refers to vandalism and other hate crimes carried out by Jewish ultra-nationalists ostensibly in retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies perceived as hostile to the settler movement. Palestinian olive groves, mosques, and churches have been targeted by far-right vandals in recent years, as have dovish Israeli rights groups and even IDF military bases.

Last week, police opened an investigation after two cars in Urif had their tires slashed and Hebrew hate slogans were found spray-painted on a number of buildings.

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Graffitied phrases included “Enemies live here. Expel or kill,” and “Jews will not stay silent,” in addition to a biblical verse about vengeance.

The incident came two days after a similar crime was reported in the neighboring Palestinian village of Burqa, where vandals chopped down dozens of grapevines and fig trees.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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