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Settlers attack Palestinians, Israeli army with impunity in separate incidents

June 18, 2017 1:39 P.M. (Updated: June 18, 2017 8:39 P.M.)
An Israeli military vehicle stationed near the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israeli settlers carried out at least three separate attacks against Palestinians and the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank on Saturday night.

Extremist Israelis from the illegal settlement of Halamish northwest of Ramallah attacked Palestinians driving in the area, locals told Ma’an.

Locals said that Israeli settlers threw rocks at a number of Palestinian vehicles, in the presence of Israeli military forces, who did nothing to intervene. No injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports of the incident.

Separately, after extremist Israelis from the notorious Yitzhar settlement in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus reportedly obstructed Israeli army vehicles and pelted them with stones in two separate incidents, the Israeli army condemned the “grave” incidents,” but did not appear to hold the settlers accountable for the incidents.

Israeli news site Ynet reported that Israeli settlers blocked the entrance to Yitzhar with spikes to “hinder the (Israeli army’s) operational duties at the settlement,” and later pelted with stones an Israeli ambulance that arrived to treat a resident suffering from dehydration. No one was injured in the attack, but minor damage was caused to the vehicle.

The report made no mention of any arrests or other legal action being taken to hold the perpetrators accountable, and an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they would look into the case to confirm.

Several attacks have been carried out in villages near to the Yitzhar settlement in recent weeks, many of them in the presence of Israeli forces who did not intervene, while Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians and their property are carried out with regularity across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have meanwhile accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians, while Palestinians face up to 20 years in prison for throwing stones if intent to harm could be proven, and face a minimum prison sentence of three years for throwing a stone at an Israeli.

Israel has meted out harsh prison sentences to scores of Palestinians for rock throwing in recent months.

In contrast, Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years, according to Israeli NGO Yesh Din.

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, including East Jerusalem, in 2016, with 56 attacks being reported since the start of 2017.
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