ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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Settlers stone Palestinian cars, clash with IDF after troops block them from outpost

Skirmish ensues after IDF stops bus from reaching Evyatar, which was again evacuated this week; incident is latest in series of attacks by settlers throughout West Bank

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers stand by as Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinians during clashes in the town of Huwara in the West Bank on October 13, 2022. (Oren Ziv/AFP)
Illustrative: Israeli soldiers stand by as Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinians during clashes in the town of Huwara in the West Bank on October 13, 2022. (Oren Ziv/AFP)

A group of settlers hurled stones at passing Palestinian cars late Thursday night and clashed with IDF troops who arrived at the scene in the northern West Bank to try and prevent the altercation, the army said.

It was the latest in a series of incidents of settler violence that have taken place in the past week alone, including the rampage in nearby Huwara following a terror attack that sparked global condemnations.

The IDF said in a statement that Thursday’s altercation unfolded after the army stopped a bus full of young settlers that were making their way from the ultra-nationalist Yitzhar settlement toward the illegal Evyatar outpost, which security forces again evacuated earlier this week and declared a closed military zone.

Some of the Israelis on the bus got off and proceeded to hurl stones at Palestinian-owned cars driving by. IDF troops attempted to stop the suspects, and clashes ensued, leading the soldiers to employ riot dispersal measures to scatter the settlers, the army said.

No arrests were made.

A nearly identical incident unfolded two days earlier in the central West Bank. The army said that troops were dispatched to Route 458 highway near the town of al-Mughayyir after receiving a report of stones being hurled at Palestinian-owned cars.

IDF soldiers patrol the main road in Huwara in the West Bank, on February 27, 2023. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)

The IDF said the troops fired into the air, but the suspects refused to disperse. The troops then used tear gas against the group, and in response, one suspect kicked a soldier and maced a police officer with pepper spray.

Police said that another suspect punctured the tires of the vehicle belonging to the officer. Five suspects were detained and handed over to police for further questioning.

On Monday, the IDF said an Israeli tried to run over a soldier who arrived at the scene near the northern West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron to provide backup to troops who were being pelted with stones by settlers.

In a separate incident on Sunday night, the IDF said a senior officer was assaulted by a group of settlers near the West Bank settlement of Rimonim.

The series of altercations appeared to further highlight the findings from a US State Department report released earlier this week that accused Israel of failing to prevent attacks by settlers in the West Bank.

This picture taken on February 27, 2023, shows a view of torched cars and a building in the town of Huwara near Nablus in the West Bank. (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP)

“Israeli security personnel often did not prevent settler attacks and rarely detained or charged perpetrators of settler violence,” the report stated.

It cited UN figures showing a total of 496 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in 2021, including 370 attacks that resulted in property damage and 126 attacks that resulted in injuries — three of which were fatal.

Nonetheless, only one settler was convicted in all of 2021, receiving a 20-month sentence for hurling a stun grenade into a Palestinian home. The number of incidents nearly doubled in 2022, according to the UN.

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