Israeli settlers have attacked a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank overnight, setting brush fires and hurling stones, Palestinian officials and an Israeli rights group said on Monday.
It appeared to be a revenge attack after three Israelis were wounded in a drive-by shooting at a nearby traffic junction on Sunday.
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Israeli human rights group B’Tselem circulated videos showing the fires with people shouting in the background, saying dozens of illegal settlers had attacked the village of Jaloud
Israeli security forces arrested 11 Palestinians and four people were wounded by rubber-coated bullets, B’Tselem said.
Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, provided a similar account, saying the villagers came out to defend the village after the settlers attacked.
The Israeli military said Israelis and Palestinians hurled rocks at each other outside the village and “a number of locations were ignited”. It did not provide details on what triggered the violence. It said 10 people had been detained but did not identify them.
Israeli settlers have been known to carry out so-called “price tag” attacks on Palestinian communities in response to violence or perceived Israeli plans to restrict settlement activity.
Rise in attacks
The United Nations last month warned that violence, including assaults and property destruction, by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank has increased substantially in recent months.
During the first three months of 2021, more than 210 incidents of violence by settlers were recorded, including the death of one Palestinian, it said.
The violence has been mainly motivated by ideology and intended to “intimidate and terrorise Palestinians”, and prevent them from accessing their land while pushing others to move.
Nearly 500,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 200 illegal settlements and dozens of unauthorised outposts scattered across the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian leaders want to establish a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinians, who have limited self-rule in the West Bank, say Israel’s settlements deny them a viable state. The settlements are illegal under international law.
‘Strike our enemies’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there would be a harsh response to Sunday’s shooting.
“We will not allow terrorism to raise its head and we will strike our enemies with force,” he said Sunday.
Confrontations broke out in another village in the northern West Bank late Sunday during an Israeli military raid.
The Palestinian health ministry said five people were wounded by live ammunition in the village of Beita.
The military said troops entered the village to search for suspected attackers after the shooting and that Palestinians hurled rocks and firebombs at the soldiers who responded by opening fire.