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Palestinian shepherd attacked by Israelis from illegal Yitzhar settlement

May 28, 2017 11:27 A.M. (Updated: May 29, 2017 2:52 P.M.)
Mamoun Amin Nassar (Photo: Zakariya Sada, field researcher with Rabbis for Human Rights)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- A group of masked Israeli settlers assaulted a Palestinian shepherd in the village of Madama on Saturday, marking the latest in a string of violent attacks committed by residents of the notorious illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus.

Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that a number of Israeli settlers from Yitzhar, which is located just a few hundred meters south of Madama, assaulted Mamoun Amin Nassar and pelted him with stones.

The sources added that Nassar was transferred to Rafidiya governmental hospital in Nablus where his injury was described as moderate.

In response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that "a violent dispute developed between a Palestinian shepherd and several Israel civilians. During the dispute, an Israeli civilian hurled rocks toward the Palestinian and injured him."

The spokesperson said Israeli forces then arrived to the scene and fired into the air "to disperse the gathering," and provided medical treatment to the injured Palestinian before he was evacuated to the hospital.

The spokesperson could not confirm that Israeli police had been called to the scene, as was reported by Israeli daily Haaretz. Israeli police told Haaretz that no one was arrested in the incident.

However, Israeli NGO Rabbis For Human Rights (RHR) later quoted Palestinian eye witnesses as saying that Israeli soldiers at the scene did not act to prevent the attack. 

RHR field coordinator, Zakariya Sada, arrived on the scene in his vehicle and asked to approach the injured man in order to assist him but he was obstructed by an Israeli army officer, RHR wrote on Facebook.

The incident was captured on video by Yesh Din fieldworker, Munir Kados.

"We are stunned that while masked assailants attacked a Palestinian civilian and subsequently ran off in the direction of Yizhar the army officer found it more compelling to threaten and stop human rights activist, Zakariya Sada," RHR's statement said, noting that an Israeli army medic did offer treatment to Nasser. 

"Moreover, the IDF officer made unnecessary and overt threats with his weapon at Zakariya, forcing him out of his jeep while he takes Zakariya's car keys. Only following the arrival of a more senior officer did the junior officer return Zakariya’s keys to him -- by throwing the keys on the ground in an effort to humiliate," the statement continued.

"The army officer, instead of acting against a security threat prevented Zakariya from aiding an injured civilian while gratuitously humiliating him. We view these actions as extremely grave."

Palestinian communities living near Yitzhar have been subjected to a wave of violent attacks in recent weeks. Israeli soldiers have been documented standing by while Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinians on at least two occasions. According to Haaretz, there were no arrests after those incidents either.

RHR said that over the course of the past month, RHR and Yesh Din documented over five cases in which Israeli soldiers and police "stood idly by, taking no real action, while Palestinians were being attacked by extremist settlers in the vicinity of Yizhar."

In some cases, Israeli soldiers shot and injured Palestinians who were attempting to defend themselves from the settler attacks.

Following a violent attack in the village of Burin, just east of Madama, field researcher for the Israeli NGO Yesh Din, Munir Kadus, who was injured after being struck by a rock, wrote in a statement on Facebook of his experiences since the string of attacks started about a month ago, when two separate incidents on April 22 left multiple Palestinians injured, including a 72-year-old woman. "In the weeks after that, it was one incident after another," Kadus said.

Since 2005, Yesh Din has handled more than 1,100 cases in which a complaint was filed with Israeli police of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank. Of these, indictments were filed in only 90 cases (8 percent) of all the investigation files that concluded by the end of 2016.

While the hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in Jewish-only settlements across occupied the West Bank in violation of international law are permitted to carry guns, and are rarely held accountable for stone throwing or similar attacks, Palestinians face up to 20-years in prison for throwing stones where intent to harm could be proven, and 10 years where it could not.

Last week, an Israeli settler shot a 23-year-old Palestinian man and injured a Palestinian journalist after the Israeli drove through clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators, who threw stones at the settler's vehicle.

Israeli media sites described the incident as "an attempted lynching."

The Israeli settler is not being investigated as a criminal suspect in the case, though Israeli police arrested three Palestinians for allegedly throwing stones leading up to the killing, and also arrested a Palestinian ambulance driver who was attempting to treat injured protesters, for allegedly obstructing the escape of Israeli settler with his van.
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