Radical settlers attack left-wing activists with bats, stones in West Bank, footage shows

Three said wounded in incident near Al-Auja, north of Jericho; B’Tselem says attackers were ‘hilltop youth’ from nearby outpost

An attacker is seen lifting his bat just before attacking Rabbi Arik Asherman in the West Bank, on Friday, April 21 2017 (Screen capture YoTube)
An attacker is seen lifting his bat just before attacking Rabbi Arik Asherman in the West Bank, on Friday, April 21 2017 (Screen capture YoTube)

A group of masked settlers attacked a number of left-wing activists in the West Bank on Friday, beating them with baseball bats and stones, according to a video of the incident captured by one of the activists and published by left-wing NGO B’Tselem.

The group, which collects information on alleged human rights violations by Israelis and Israeli authorities against Palestinians, said the activists that were attacked were from another left-wing organization, Ta’ayush, an Arab and Jewish political activist group.

B’Tselem said the incident occurred near the village of Al-Auja in the Jordan Valley and that Palestinian villagers were also attacked. The attackers were said to be youths from a nearby outpost, Baladim.

Three activists were wounded in the attack, according to B’Tselem including Rabbi Arik Asherman, formerly of Rabbis for Human Rights, and Dr. Amiel Vardi, an academic and one of the founders of Ta’ayush.

In the clip, filmed by former B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli, over a dozen masked youths are seen rushing at the activists, screaming obscenities and hurling stones and swinging sticks and bats.

Ascherman can be seen being hit with a club or baseball bat. Michaeli, holding the camera shouts “Don’t attack me!” several times during the clip.

An IDF helicopter then flies very close to the settlers and they disperse and leave. The rest of the clip follows the attackers as they walk away until they disappear from view.

In a post on the Facebook page of Peace Now linking to the YouTube clip, the NGO said it “seeks the public’s help in distributing this difficult-to-watch clip, so that the media becomes aware and we may finally hear the government’s response to the hilltop criminals,” a phrase referring to young, violent Jewish settler activists.

“At least 5 human rights activist were wounded today following a harsh and violent attack by settlers from the Baladim outpost. Yes – the same outpost from which the criminals who attacked IDF soldiers last week,” read the post on Peace Now’s page, in reference to a recent incident not widely reported that saw settlers from the outpost attack an IDF patrol car near the extremist outpost.

The soldiers arrived after receiving a report that Palestinians were in the area and there was concern that the two sides may clash. When the soldiers arrived, they did not see any Palestinians, but the settlers started throwing rocks at them.

In a video from the incident, a group of some half a dozen youths are seen pelting the IDF vehicle with stones. The police later arrested one person in connection with the incident and said more arrested were expected.

Peace Now said Friday that the government ignored last week’s incident and “today they attacked activists from the Ta’ayush organization who came to accompany Palestinian shepherds and protect them from settler attacks.”

“Will they again ignore this and let a group of hoodlums take the law into their hands and risk the activists’ lives?” the group wrote on Facebook.

read more: