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Armed Israeli settlers threaten, hurl rocks at Palestinians near Bethlehem

July 15, 2017 2:28 P.M. (Updated: July 15, 2017 4:34 P.M.)
Armed settlers overlook a Palestinian village south of Nablus during confrontations following the setting on fire of Palestinian-owned fields on Jan. 1, 2010. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A group of armed Israeli settlers reportedly hurled stones Friday at Palestinian cars passing by the village of al-Fureidis, east of the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, according to Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.

Wafa quoted Palestinian security sources as saying that a group of settlers carrying weapons threatened Palestinian passersby and hurled stones at Palestinian cars driving on the main road near the village.

No injuries were reported.

An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.

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 UN documentation, there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2016, with 69 attacks being reported since the start of 2017.

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, 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.

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