US envoy says settler rock throwing ‘not legitimate response’ to terror attacks
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US envoy says settler rock throwing ‘not legitimate response’ to terror attacks

Jason Greenblatt: Palestinian terrorism ‘unconscionable’ but does not justify Jewish assaults, as ‘innocent people could be killed’

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt on Friday night condemned settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank in response to terror attacks.

“The recent Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis are unconscionable. But throwing rocks at vehicles who have nothing to do with these attacks is NOT a legitimate response. Innocent people could be killed,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter.

In October a Palestinian woman was killed by a rock hurled through her car’s windshield, in what the Israeli security establishment suspects was an attack by settlers.

Greenblatt’s comments came after several incidents of rock-throwing at Palestinian vehicles were reported throughout the West Bank.

On Thursday evening, dozens of settler youths rioted at the scene of a deadly terror shooting in the central West Bank, human rights activists and Palestinian reports said. A number of rock-throwing incidents were also reported Thursday throughout the West Bank.

On Friday police opened a probe into the assault of a Palestinian bus driver by a pair of Israelis in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modiin Illit.

The driver, Nidal Fakih from the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, told authorities he was dropping off passengers in the central West Bank town when a car pulled up in front of his bus and blocked the road.

Two young men exited the car, boarded the bus and began speaking to Fakih. When the suspects realized he was Palestinian, they began beating him.

Palestinian bus driver brutally assaulted by Israeli passengers at Modiin Illit settlement on December 13, 2018. (Courtesy)

Footage from shortly after the assault shows Fakih bruised and bleeding profusely from his left eye, as well as him being unable to move from his seat.

Police have yet to catch the assailants who are suspected of carrying out the nationalistically motivated assault.

The Kavim bus company, which operates in Modiin Illit, said in a statement Friday a group of its drivers would be striking in response to repeated assaults they have endured at the hands of settlers.

“The company’s management will not tolerate violence of any kind against its employees, and will act to bring to justice any person who commits such acts of violence,” a statement from Kavim said.

Recent days have seen a rash of Palestinian attacks in the West Bank.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a Thursday shooting outside the Givat Assaf outpost, while a third soldier was critically wounded and a civilian woman seriously injured. The army has launched a manhunt for the attackers.

Also Thursday an assailant stabbed two border guards in the Old City of Jerusalem, lightly injuring them, before he was shot dead. Later in the day Israeli troops shot dead a 58-year-old Palestinian man who they said attempted to ram them with his car in the town of el-Bireh, outside Ramallah. The man’s family denies that he tried to deliberately hit the soldiers with his car, and the military is reportedly investigating the possibility that it was indeed an accident.

Israeli soldiers carry out searches for terror suspects in the West Bank on December 14, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

On Friday a Palestinian attacker stabbed a soldier and bashed his head with a rock, seriously injuring him, at a military outpost near the Beit El settlement. He then fled the scene.

The attacks followed a shooting on Sunday, when Palestinian terrorists opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside the Ofra settlement, injuring seven people, including a 30-weeks pregnant woman whose baby was delivered prematurely and died three days later.

Greenblatt had previously condemned the attacks on his Twitter feed.

Jacob Magid and Juda Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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