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Video: Extremist settlers attack Palestinian human rights activists in Hebron

May 8, 2016 3:45 P.M. (Updated: May 9, 2016 1:00 P.M.)
An Israeli Star of David painted on a wall in the West Bank town of Hebron. (MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle, File)
HEBRON (Ma’an) – A group of extremist Israeli settlers on Saturday attacked two Palestinian human rights activists in the Tel Rumeida area in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, video footage showed.

Human Rights Defenders spokesperson Badee Dweik told Ma’an that settlers attacked Emad Abu Shamsiya and Yasser Abu Markhiya, who work with the group’s Hebron office. The two were taking footage of extremist settlers carrying rods near Palestinian homes in Tel Rumeida in Hebron’s Old City.

Abu Shamsiya, who serves as coordinator of the group in Hebron, said the settlers “were preparing to attack and intimidate Palestinian residents, especially children,” and that he rushed toward the scene with Abu Markhiya after they heard children screaming.

Their video shows a group of three settlers, two boys and one adult, begin to pass by. The adult settler can be heard saying in Hebrew, “if you take footage of me I’m going to kill you.” The children approach Abu Shamsiya and Abu Markhiya and order them to put down the camera before the adult strikes Abu Shamsiya.

“They punched me and broke my camera,” Abu Shamsiya told Ma’an, highlighted that Israeli soldiers were watching when the settlers attacked him and his colleague without intervening.

Dweik told Ma’an that attacks by Israeli settlers and Israeli soldiers against activists attempting to document settler attacks on Palestinian residents have increased recently, especially after footage captured by Abu Shamsiya in March of an Israeli soldier shooting and killing Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif while he was lying motionless on the ground stoked widespread international criticism.

A day after release of the video, Israeli settlers gathered outside the home of Abu Shamsiya in Hebron to threaten him.

Tel Rumeida -- where Shamsiya’s house is located and the site both Saturday’s incident and al-Sharif’s killing -- has long been a flashpoint for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and military, and is location to an illegal Israeli settlement.

Mistreatment of Palestinians in the Hebron area has been common since the city was divided in the 1990s after a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The majority of the city was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while the Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control in a sector known as H2.

The area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces. Hebron residents frequently report attacks and harassment by the settlers carried out in the presence of the forces.

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