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Israeli settlers indicted for assaulting Palestinian farmers

Jan. 23, 2017 5:43 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 23, 2017 6:16 P.M.)
Israeli forces talk with settlers attempting to prevent Palestinians from working in their fields in the West Bank village of Jalud. Jan. 2, 2013. (Photo: AFP)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police said on Monday that it had extended the remand of four Israeli settlers suspected of assaulting Palestinian farmers in the village of Turmusayya north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, adding that the settlers were indicted in a Jerusalem court over charges of "racially-motivated assault with intention to harm."

Al-Samri said that Israeli police officers had arrested the settlers on Jan. 16 from the illegal Israeli settlement of Geolat Zion near Turmusayya, after police officers saw a number of masked settlers waving clubs and hurling stones at Palestinian farmers in the area.

Police officers chased the settlers, arresting four of them, three of whom were minors, according to the statement.

Two days later, Israeli settlers damaged 12 olive trees belonging to Palestinians near Turmusayya, al-Samri said at the time, in a statement that did not mention the assault case. She said that Israeli police had opened an investigation into the case.

Settlers often carry out attacks on Palestinians and their property, known as “price tag attacks.”

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians, who are rarely held accountable for their actions.

According to Israeli NGO Yesh Din, over 85 percent of investigations into violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians are closed without indictments and only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli settler attacks result in a conviction.

Yesh Din spokesperson Gilad Grossman told Ma’an in May, ahead of the release of a Jewish extremist arrested for a deadly arson attack that killed three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family in the occupied West Bank, that the dearth of adequate policing by Israeli forces in the West Bank was largely due to a lack of ability as well as an unwillingness to address ideologically motivated crimes against Palestinians.

Attacks by settlers are often carried out under the armed protection of Israeli forces, who rarely make efforts to protect Palestinians from such attacks.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2016.
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