Jewish settlers said to attack Palestinians, soldier in West Bank

Hebron-Al-Khalil - skirmishes betrween Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers, November 19 (Mamoun Wazwaz - Anadolu Agency)

AP  /  November 19, 2022

JERUSALEM – Jewish settlers on Saturday attacked Palestinians during a pilgrimage in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian news agency, and Israel’s army said at least one soldier was injured by a settler.

The incidents happened in the city of Hebron/Al-Khalil, where thousands of Jewish Israelis visit a sacred tomb annually under the protection of the military.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that settlers attacked residents and threw rocks and empty bottles at their houses and vehicles as they entered the city. It said Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians.

But the Israeli military also said pilgrims attacked soldiers who were protecting their entry to the volatile Palestinian town in southern West Bank. It was not clear how many of the pilgrims took part in the reported attacks.

The military said a man assaulted a female soldier and injured her lightly.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid condemned the attack on the soldier as “a national disgrace.” Vowing to make the perpetrators accountable, he added that “this is a moral injury to the Israel Defense Forces and to those who protect our lives; this is a serious criminal offense.”

“This is a very serious event,” said Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the army chief of staff. “It cannot be that an Israeli civilian [a Jewish settler] will violently attack IDF soldiers who operate to protect and keep civilians [Jewish settlers]  safe,” he added.

He called for “a rapid lawful response” to the incident, describing it as “shameful and criminal behavior.”

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has built more than 130 Jewish settlements that today are home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers, who have Israeli citizenship. Nearly 3 million Palestinians live in the territory under open-ended Israeli military rule. The Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule over parts of the West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security matters.

The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state. Most countries view the settlements as a violation of international law.

Intensified Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem has also killed more than 130 Palestinians this year, making it the deadliest since 2006, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

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Israeli Prime Minister condemns Jewish settler assaults on Palestinians in Hebron/Al-Khalil

Middle East Monitor  /  November 20, 2022

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has condemned Jewish settler assaults on Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron/Al-Khalil, Anadolu reports.

Dozens of Palestinians were hurt on Saturday as thousands of settlers escorted by Israeli extremist leader Itamar Ben-Gvir gathered in Hebron’s Old City to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath holiday.

Israeli media also reported that settlers had attacked Israeli soldiers during their celebrations.

In a tweet, Lapid termed the assaults as “national disgrace”, vowing to bring attackers of an Israeli female soldier during the settler celebrations to justice.

Outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz also “strongly condemned” what he said “extremist” Israeli settlers’ attacks on “security forces and Palestinian residents” in Hebron, adding that Israeli forces will continue to “maintain public order.”

Last week, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said in a leaked audio that “the whole world is worried” about the far-right views of Ben-Gvir, who is expected to become a minister in the upcoming government.

Ben-Gvir holds far-right views on the Palestinians. He had previously called for the displacement of Palestinians. He also caused a wave of escalation in occupied East Jerusalem after setting up an office in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Ben-Gvir has repeatedly joined settlers in storming the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli media earlier reported that Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu reached a deal with Ben-Gvir’s party to increase the number of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Hebron is home to roughly 160,000 Palestinians and about 500 Jewish settlers. The latter live in a series of Jewish-only enclaves heavily guarded by Israeli troops