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Settlers torch car, assault villagers

April 9, 2011 12:42 P.M. (Updated: April 10, 2011 3:00 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Two incidents of Israeli settler violence were reported Saturday morning, with Urif residents waking to find a torched car and Asira villagers saying settlers entered the area and provoked a clash.

Fatah official charged with monitoring settlement activity in the northern West Bank Ghassan Doughlas told Ma'an that locals believed residents of the illegal Yitzhar settlement were behind a provocation near the village.

Locals said settlers entered the area, approaching and verbally harassing shepherds on the outskirts of the village. Locals came to the aid of the shepherds, clashing with the group of settlers.

In the village of Urif, Doughlas said local resident Ali Issa awoke to a burned out car, which witnesses said was torched by settlers.

Doughlas demanded the quartet and the international community intervene to stop settler attacks against Palestinians.

Progressively overwhelming waves of settler attacks have subsided in recent weeks, falling back to average levels of vandalism and harassment, which remain a constant threat to Palestinians, particularly in the northern West Bank region of Nablus, and in the Hebron region.

Between the end of February and the third week of March, seven Palestinians were injured by settler gunfire, two were stabbed, two were beaten, seven were injured by stones, at least six cars were torched, and dozens of acts of vandalism and harassment reported.

An escalation in violent attacks began after the Israeli government dismantled an illegal settlement outpost on February 28. Under a professed "price tag" policy, settlers make Palestinians "pay" for each evacuation of outposts. In the past, the "price" has included arson, shootings, beatings, burning fields, uprooting trees and poisoning water wells belonging to Palestinians.

Harassment and vandalism escalated further following the murder of five residents of Itamar settlement by unknown attackers on March 11. But many of the incidents causing hospitalization occurred before.

Settlement security prevents farmers from accessing lands

Farmers from Deir Istiya west of Salfit said a guard at the Nofim settlement prevented them from reaching agricultural lands in Khirbet Shuhada on Saturday morning, adding that they feared new construction in the settlement would mean their lands would be confiscated for the expansion.

Samih Salman, 45, told Ma'an that while he was on his way to the lands, an Israeli jeep marked "security" approached him, took down his identity card number and turned him away from the area, saying access was prohibited.

Mayor of Deir Istiya, Nathmi Salman, said the incident was worrying, following Israel's announcement of another 942 settlement units set for construction in the West Bank.

Salman explained that much of the village's land had already been confiscated when the Hava Ba'er outpost was built, adding that the outpost also saw the closure of the main road to farming land belonging to the villagers, forcing farmers to take a long bypass route.
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