Several injured as Palestinian olive harvesters, settlers clash in West Bank

Three Israeli men hurt by stones hurled near settlement of Ma’ale Amos, with both sides claiming they were attacked during annual harvest

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Settlers are seen assaulting a woman near the West Bank town of Kisan, October 18, 2022. (WAFA)
Settlers are seen assaulting a woman near the West Bank town of Kisan, October 18, 2022. (WAFA)

Several people were wounded during a violent clash in the southern West Bank on Wednesday, as settlers fought with Palestinians and Israeli activists during the annual olive harvest.

Masked settlers hurled stones and assaulted volunteers and Palestinians harvesting olives, footage showed, while a settlement group said the Palestinians had approached a settlement, issued threats and injured three residents in a deliberate provocation.

Images published by the official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA showed several masked Israeli settlers hurling stones near the village of Kisan, south of Bethlehem.

One picture showed the settlers assaulting an elderly woman, said to be an Israeli volunteer.

According to WAFA, citing the landowner, a volunteer was stabbed in the back and her leg fractured during the assault.

The Peace Now settlement watchdog said two Israeli volunteers were hurt, one seriously.

“This attack is the culmination of two weeks in which ‘phalanges’ of settlers are committing riots against the Palestinians in the presence of the IDF,” Peace Now said in a tweet, using a phrase denoting armed militia groups.

“Everything is filmed, everything in broad daylight. The entire responsibility rests with the defense minister,” the group added.

Three Israeli men in their 20s were injured — two moderately and the third lightly — by stones hurled at them during the clash, medics said.

A settler group calling itself “The Forum for the Struggle for Every Dunam” said dozens of Palestinian rioters had approached the settlement of Ma’ale Amos, near Kisan.

The Palestinians and activists deliberately sparked a “violent provocation” involving fistfights and clubs that injured two Jews, the settlers said.

“At first they entered the area around the hill, and when they saw us filming them, they went to the olive groves and pretended they were there to pick olives,” one of the settlement residents said in a statement.

A few minutes later, the Palestinian group suddenly emerged from the olive grove, approached the settlement and started “to shout and make threats,” the statement said.

“We told them to go back to the grove and asked why they hadn’t coordinated with the military as required, but it became clear that they did not come to harvest at all, but to carry out a violent provocation,” the statement said. “They surrounded us and started violently attacking us with clubs and fists.”

One of the settlers received a moderate head injury and was taken to the hospital.

The settlers claimed the rioters were from a group called “Faz’a” with links to the Palestinian Authority.

Video released by the settlers showed them confronting the Palestinian group, saying, “The IDF says you’re a very dangerous organization.”

“Why didn’t you coordinate with the IDF? The IDF says you’re a group that’s looking for problems,” the person filming says.

WAFA also reported that some 300 olive saplings were uprooted by the settlers in the area.

Arab Israeli lawmaker Aida Touma-Silman of the Hadash faction said of the settlers: “These are human savages who attacked two women peace activists in their 70s.”

“This horrific attack is the direct result of the criminal silence” by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, Touma-Silman charged.

A military spokesperson told The Times of Israel that troops rushed to the scene, following reports of “friction” between Palestinians and settlers, in order to separate the sides.

There was no immediate comment from police on the incident.

The annual olive harvest in the West Bank regularly sees heightened tensions between Israeli settlers, Palestinians and the Israeli military.

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