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Israeli settlers trespass on Palestinian lands to skinny dip in local well

April 10, 2017 3:09 P.M. (Updated: April 10, 2017 5:11 P.M.)
SALFIT (Ma'an) -- A group of Israeli settlers trespassed onto private Palestinian land and vandalized property in the central occupied West Bank district of Salfit on Sunday, a local activist told Ma’an.

Nathmi Salman said that nine settlers went to a water well belonging to Jamal Abu Hijla near the villages of Deir Istiya and Haris, fully removed their clothes and jumped into the well to swim.

Salman added that a heated argument broke out between Abu Hijla and the settlers before the latter got dressed and left the premises.

In a separate incident in Saida, an area of Deir Istiya, Palestinian farmers encountered a group of Israeli settlers with construction equipment trying to transform a well owned by Khalid Abu Nasser into a swimming hole, Salman said.

The settlers fled the scene once they saw the farmers, who also found Hebrew graffiti on nearby rocks.

Incidents involving Israeli settlers damaging Palestinian property in the occupied Palestinian territory are a regular occurrence in the occupied territory.

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have meanwhile accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians.

In March, Israeli NGO Yesh Din revealed that Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years.

Sunday’s incidents come amid a spike of Israeli government activity in the Salfit district in past weeks -- including home demolitions, as well as the uprooting of 150 olive trees which Israeli authorities said were "damaging the natural view and values of the nature resort."

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with announcements of settlement expansion earlier this year sparking condemnation from the international community.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2016.

So far in 2017, OCHA has reported 36 such attacks, 21 of which were property damage incidents.
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