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Settler attacks against Palestinians escalate

March 13, 2011 10:47 A.M. (Updated: March 14, 2011 10:24 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) – As the Shabbat ended Saturday evening, Israeli settlers raided Palestinian villages and towns across the West Bank, injuring several Palestinians.

The raids followed the killing of a family of five Israelis in Itamar settlement in Nablus overnight Friday. A three-month-old baby Hadas, Elad, 4, Yoav, 11 and their parents Udi and Ruthie were all stabbed to death in their home.

During the day settlers stormed several villages in Nablus, including Burin and Huwwara, entering homes and harassing residents. Settlers handed out leaflets threatening the lives of villagers in Beitillu, near Ramallah, and threw rocks at Palestinian cars in Hebron.

Saturday evening, five members of the Abu Akar family were attacked by settlers as they drove back from Hebron to their home in Bethlehem in the southern West Bank.

"Some 200 extremist settlers armed with guns, clubs, and knives obstructed our car on the road from Hebron to Bethlehem. We tried to run away, but they hurled stones at the car smashing its windshields.

"My brother-in-law, the driver, sustained serious wounds and was forced to pull over. I tried to step out and take the wheel but they attacked me with clubs. Israeli forces who were watching did nothing to stop them," Ammar Abu Akar told Ma’an.

He said he sustained bruises in the back and shoulders while his brother-in-law, 53-year-old Nidhal Abu Akar, sustained serious head injuries. Ammar's father and two of his uncles, Muhammad and Khalil Abu Akar, were also injured by stones and shattered glass.

Ammar said the family narrowly escaped death after one of them managed to take control of the car and sped away to a hilltop through a dirt road.

In Hebron, settlers set fire to a Palestinian car in Tel Rumeida. Other mobs of settlers attacked Palestinian cars and homes on the main road in Beit Ummar and the nearby Al-Arrub refugee camp.

Beit Ummar popular committee spokesman Muhammad Ayyad Awad said a group of settlers opened fire and hurled stones at Palestinian homes. Meanwhile, he added, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters near the homes.

In the village of Nabi Salih west of Ramallah, settlers tried to enter Palestinian homes near the main street, but were stopped by residents. Locals set fire to used tires at the village entrance and stationed themselves behind them to defend the village.

Residents said Israeli forces stormed the village firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters. Witnesses said Israeli forces entered the village to retrieve the remains of an unmanned Israeli drone which crashed in the area.

In the northern and the central West Bank, Israeli settlers hurled stones at Palestinians driving on the main road between Jerusalem and Nablus near the Israeli settlements of Ofra and Bet El. No injuries have been reported.

Israeli soldiers intervened and scuffled with the settlers trying to move them back, onlookers said.

Za'tara checkpoint south of Nablus was closed, and the main road between Nablus and Qalqiliya was shut down after dozens of settlers attacked Palestinian cars. The Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem was closed in both directions for "security reasons," Israeli authorities said.

Local sources in Nablus told Ma’an that over 100 settlers stormed shops and homes in the northern West Bank village of Huwwara south of Nablus.

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