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Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian lands in Nablus-area village

May 10, 2017 4:56 P.M. (Updated: May 10, 2017 7:15 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Several Israeli settlers set fire to hundreds of dunams of agricultural land in the eastern part of Burin village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday.

Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors Israeli settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that several Israeli settlers from the illegal Bracha settlement near Burin deliberately lit a fire in Jabal Abu Salem area in the village. The fire then spread rapidly throughout the area.

Daghlas added that several Israeli settlers also attacked a Palestinian house belonging to Hamzi al-Zein. The settlers threw rocks at the home and attempted to enter it but locals prevented them and proceeded to force them from the area, he said.

Witnesses added that Israeli fire trucks arrived in the village to put out the fire. It was unclear what the extent of damage was following the incident.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that she would check if army forces were present during the incident.

In the past month, several attacks have been carried out in villages nearby Israel’s illegal Yitzhar settlement. According to the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem, the Yitzhar and Bracha settlements have confiscated some 7,000 dunams (1,730 acres) of Burin’s land throughout their construction.

This is not the first time settlers have attempted to burn Palestinian lands around the settlements, villages nearby Yitzhar have long been vulnerable to Israeli settlers stealing crops, damaging and burning trees and other plants, and attacking places of worship in the area, in an attempt to intimidate Palestinian villagers and farmers from using their land.

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.

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.

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, including East Jerusalem, in 2016, with 46 attacks being reported since the start of 2017.
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