11 April 2011:Soldiers stand by during settler revenge attack

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On Saturday morning, 9 April 2011, settlers from Yizhar attacked Palestinians in ‘Asira al-Qibliya and ‘Urif, apparently in response to a Palestinian attempt to enter the settlement the night before. During the attack, which lasted an hour or so, soldiers present at the scene stood by, even when settlers threw stones in front of their eyes. When Palestinians threw stones at the attackers, soldiers used tear gas and fired shots in the air to move them away.

B'Tselem complained to the police about the settler’s attack and demanded that the army investigate why the soldiers did not enforce the law. B'Tselem has frequently called on officials in the defense establishment to make it clear to soldiers that they have an obligation to protect Palestinians from settler violence and to detain the assailants until the police arrive. The recurrence of such incidents raises the suspicion that the army has not fully internalized its duty to protect Palestinians, and not only settlers.

The attack on ‘Asira al-Qibliya

B'Tselem’s investigation and video footage filmed by B'Tselem volunteers indicate that a group of about 20 settlers went from Yizhar toward a house on the outskirts of ‘Asira al-Qibliya and threw stones at the house. At least three of the assailants were armed and one was masked. With them were two soldiers, who did nothing to stop the attack.

Inside the house were the mother and three of her small children. A number of young men from the village came to remove the settlers, and threw stones at them. The soldiers ordered the Palestinians to leave, fired tear gas and also fired live ammunition into the air in the direction of the Palestinians.

A half hour after the incident began, military reinforcements arrived. They forced some of the settlers away but did not put an end to the attack. Based on the video footage, no arrests were made. A few of the settlers even had a confrontation with soldiers. After another half an hour passed, a Border Police contingent arrived, at which stage the settlers headed back toward the settlement.

In the attack, one resident of the village was injured. The owner of the house and the injured person told B'Tselem that they see no point filing a complaint with the Israeli authorities given their systematic failure to enforce the law on the settlers who assaulted them.

At the same time, settlers also attacked Palestinians at a quarry situated between ‘Asira al-Qibliya and ‘Urif.

According to eyewitnesses, some eight masked settlers came on Saturday morning and threw stones at persons working at the quarry. Two of the settlers were armed, one with a pistol and the other with a rifle. While the workers were removing equipment, the assailants broke the windows of a car and torched the vehicle, burning it completely. Although the torching took place on the Sabbath, a website identified with Yizhar settlers published an admission of responsibility for the action.

In this case, too, the Palestinian whose property was damaged told B'Tselem that he saw no point filing a complaint, given the systematic failure of the authorities to enforce the law on the settlers who assaulted him.