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PA report: Israeli settler violence on the rise

July 7, 2011 1:16 P.M. (Updated: July 8, 2011 8:58 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli settler violence against Palestinians increased "dramatically" in June, according to a Palestinian Authority report released Wednesday.

The report documented 139 attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank by the Israeli army and settlers during the month, including the demolition of 95 buildings and over 3600 olive trees and vines.

Fires in the villages of Madama on Tuesday, and in Aqraba on Monday, both near Nablus, were also attributed to settler violence, the report said.

"In the first week of June, settlers burnt 350 trees in Deir al-Hatab village near Nablus, 20 grape vines in Hebron and uprooted 40 grape vines in Beit Ummar village," the report stated.

A spokesperson from the Palestinian government media center said the incidents “are part of a campaign to terrorize Palestinian farmers and their families.”

“When settlers destroy trees by burning or bulldozing, they are destroying a family’s means of earning its living.”

The spokesperson highlighted poor accountability for settler violence saying “such attacks are so frequent that the Israeli authorities must be able to take action if they choose to.

“But there is little evidence of settlers being brought to justice. They seem to be above Israeli law.”

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP he was unaware of any statistics indicating a rise in violence in the West Bank.

"Any reports of violence, whether by settlers or by Palestinians, is investigated and dealt with after an official complaint is received," he said.

Annual figures compiled by Israeli rights group Yesh Din about complaints of settler offenses have repeatedly shown that nine out of 10 police investigations fail to lead to a prosecution.

AFP contributed to this report
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