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Palestinian and Israeli settler fields set ablaze in Hebron district

May 23, 2018 2:13 P.M. (Updated: May 29, 2018 12:38 P.M.)
A cherry grove was set on fire in the illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Etzion
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Fire was set to a wheat field and hate slogans in Hebrew were graffitied on the walls of a home in the Palestinian village of al-Deirat before dawn on Wednesday in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron.

The Times of Israel reported that the field belong to Ahmad Amara, who told the news website that he was eating ahead of the upcoming day of fasting when he saw the fire.

The report added that a week ago, 400 grapevines were cut down in the village of Beit Einun alongside graffiti in Hebrew that read “we will reach every place.”

Meanwhile, in the illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Etzion, also in the Hebron district, fire was set to a cherry orchard before dawn on Wednesday.

According to the Times of Israel, settlers from Kfar Etzion accused Palestinians from the nearby village of Beit Ummar of setting the fires days ahead of an annual cherry festival hosted by the settler Gush Etzion Regional Council.

Earlier this year, the Shin Bet, Israel's internal intelligence agency, reported a spike in Israeli hate crimes against Palestinians in 2018.

According to the April report, there were 13 attacks in the first four months of this year - more than in the whole of 2017, when the agency recorded only eight attacks -- though Palestinians report the number to be much higher.

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.

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

Known as "price tag" attacks, extremist Israeli settlers use violent acts of retribution on Palestinians and their property to demonstrate their opposition to Israeli restrictions on settlements and their outposts in the occupied West Bank.

In March 2017, 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.

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 recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.

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