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Video: Settlers hurl insults, threaten sexual violence against Palestinians in Hebron

Aug. 29, 2017 5:34 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 30, 2017 4:12 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 (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli rights group B’Tselem released a video on Tuesday showing a group of settlers from Israel’s illegal Kiryat Arba settlement in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron hurling abuses through a loudspeaker at Palestinians in the area.

In the presence of Israeli soldiers and police, settlers used a loudspeaker to shout abusive language at Palestinians in the the al-Hariqah neighborhood on Thursday, insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, whom they called a dog.

According to B’Tselem’s statement, once the settlers noticed a Palestinian woman -- a local volunteer for the group -- filming them, their scathing language was directed at her and they began to threaten her with sexual violence. B’Tselem noted that the incident continued for hours.

Despite the disturbing threats, Israeli forces did not intervene. Palestinians often report that Israeli forces idly stand by when Israeli settlers harass or assault Palestinians, while routinely providing the settlers protection.

In response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that, "In the video, IDF forces are not seen in the area. However, IDF soldiers who were on duty nearby arrived to the area and asked the boys to stop. When they did not respond to their request, the soldiers reported to the police."

The unidentified volunteer provided testimony to B’Tselem, in which she said that the Israeli settlers were having a party on a hilltop nearby and turned their music up when the adhan (the Muslim call to prayer) was sounded from the neighborhood’s mosque. This is when they began insulting Islam.

When she started filming “the settlers began to use foul language and call out obscenities concerning me, Islam, and especially the Prophet Muhammad,” adding that it was not the first time that she has documented Israeli settlers hurling insults about Islam in the presence of Israeli forces.

"Life in al-Hariqah has become intolerable,” she added. “The military repeatedly raids the neighbourhood and the settlers assault and harass us.”

She told B’Tselem that as a Muslim, she was “extremely offended by the insults” against the Prophet Muhammad. “As a woman, I felt terrible hearing the foul language directed personally at me for filming them," she said.

Over recent weeks, there have been routine reports of Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians and their homes in the Hebron district, particularly in the Old City.

Some 600,000 Israeli settlers reside in occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law. The international community has repeatedly called their presence and rising population the main impediment to potential peace in the region.

The UN reported this month that after a three-year decline of settler attacks on Palestinians, the first half of 2017 showed an 88 percent increase in settler attacks compared with 2016. The attacks during this time period have led to the deaths of three Palestinians, the UN added.

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.

“In the reality of life under occupation, in which settlers assault Palestinian residents in the presence of Israeli security forces on a regular basis, even explicit threats of violence and blatant sexual harassment of a Palestinian woman and abuse of her community go unchecked by the security forces,” B’Tselem added in their statement.
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