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Settlers attack Palestinian bus driver in East Jerusalem

July 28, 2015 9:38 A.M. (Updated: July 28, 2015 1:01 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Two Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian bus driver with pepper spray as they were leaving a bus at Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday evening.

The driver, Muhammad Husam Barakat, 38, works for the Israeli bus company, Kavim, and his route is from the illegal settlement of Beitar Illit to central Jerusalem.

He told Ma'an by telephone that two young settlers boarded his bus near Beitar Illit and stayed until the last stop in Sheikh Jarrah.

When they got out of the bus, they refused to pay and instead attacked the driver with pepper spray.

Barakat said that he managed to get out of the bus and received help from passersby who called the police.

The driver was taken to Hadassah Medical Center for treatment.

An Israeli police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Tensions have run high in occupied East Jerusalem in recent days, following clashes between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

According to Israeli rights group B'Tselem, Israeli settlers "have perpetrated various forms of violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories, damaging their lands, their persons and their property."

Israeli forces rarely make efforts to protect Palestinians from settler violence, and often, "rather than restricting violent settlers, Israeli security forces impose restrictions on the Palestinian," B'Tselem reports.

"The undeclared policy of the Israeli authorities in response to these attacks is lenient and conciliatory. Perpetrators are rarely tried, and many cases are not investigated at all or are closed with no operative conclusions."

Settlers have carried out 112 reported acts of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem so far this year, according to UN figures.

Of those, 39 were violent attacks against Palestinians, while 73 were property damage incidents.

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