AP / October 21, 2022
TEL AVIV, Israel – An Israeli rights group released video on Friday that appears to show an Israeli security guard [soldier] and a Jewish settler joining forces during a clash with Palestinian farmers in the occupied West Bank, with the settler throwing a gas grenade after the guard apparently shows him where to aim.
The video, provided by the rights group Yesh Din, was filmed during a confrontation between masked Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the northern West Bank, an area which has seen unrest in recent months over Israeli military raids and Palestinian shooting attacks.
Critics have long accused the Israeli military and the defense establishment of having uncomfortably tight ties with settlers. The Defense Ministry pays the salaries of settlement guards and many top commanders live in the settlements.
Soldiers are often seen standing by as settlers attack Palestinians or their property. This week, settlers rampaging in the northern West Bank pepper sprayed several soldiers trying to disperse them.
“We are used to seeing soldiers doing nothing to stop settlers but in recent years we’re seeing active cooperation between them,” said Ziv Stahl, Yesh Din’s executive director.
In the video, a settler is seen walking down a hilltop and handing what Yesh Din says are two gas grenades to the security guard. The guard is then seen handing back one of the grenades before pointing in the direction of what appears to be the Palestinians, who are off-screen, and the settler lobs one grenade that way. The guard again points and the settler throws the second grenade.
Security guards man settlements throughout the West Bank and are meant to act as a standby until soldiers or police arrive.
Other videos provided by Yesh Din from the clash also show soldiers standing by as masked settlers throw stones. The videos do not show the Palestinians.
The Israeli military said the incident and the guard’s behavior were under review.
The military said both Palestinians and settlers were throwing stones. It said the person in uniform seen in the video is not a soldier but rather a security guard whose salary is paid by the Israeli Defense Ministry and who is nominated by a regional military officer.
The military said settlement guards are typically not in uniform but the guard in the video was wearing what appears to be Israeli military attire. He has a helmet and is armed, and also wears a black face cover that obscures half his face.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 June War, along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories the Palestinians want for their future state. More than 500,000 Jewish settlers now live in some 130 settlements across the West Bank.
Associated Press writer Fares Akram contributed to this report from Hamilton, Ontario