Israeli settlers stormed a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and injured several residents, resulting in the skull fracture of a middle aged man, residents told Middle East Eye. Naji Tanatra, a father of six, also sustained internal bleeding after Israeli settlers attacked him and other residents in the Umm al-Safa village with sharp tools and wooden sticks.
Residents said that the attack unfolded after a group of settlers descended onto the village’s farm lands and tried to provoke the Palestinians into an altercation. Soon after, more settlers arrived and carried out the attacks. The settlers also unleashed their own cows in the area and allowed them to cause damage to the village’s crops.
The residents said Tanatra, 49, was taken to hospital and was expected to undergo surgery later on Tuesday.
Shortly after the attack, the Israeli army closed all entrances to the village, leading to confrontations with local Palestinian youths. During the clashes, which took place from 12pm until 5pm, the Israeli army fired teargas and rubber-coated steel bullets, causing dozens of cases of suffocation, and damage to a number of homes.
Mustafa Tanatra, a local activist, told MEE that the settlers constantly attack Umm al-Safa, but this was the first time they attacked the residents themselves. He explained that residents asked the Israeli army to intervene and stop the assault, but instead the army blamed the residents and refused to intervene.
Umm al-Safa has a population of about 750. It is surrounded on all sides by three Israeli Jewish-only settlements, namely: Ateret, Halamish, and the Neve Tzuf settlement outpost. Additionally, a street adjacent to the village was built to connect the settlements with one another and serve the settlers.
The proximity of the Israeli settlements makes the area a flashpoint for clashes between the residents on one side, and the settlers and Israeli army on another.
The head of the local council in Umm al-Safa, Marwan Sabbah, told MEE that Israeli authorities confiscated about 1,000 dunums of land so far from the village to build the existing settlements. Sabbah also pointed out that about a year and a half ago, a settler built a large cow farm on the hills of a nearby Palestinian village, Jibiya, and began to herd his cows in the area, well into Umm al-Safa.
“The settlers create friction with the village residents on a daily basis; they curse at the residents, harass them, and threaten to bring the Israeli army even though the settlers are the ones carrying out these assaults,” Sabbah told MEE.
Violence by Israeli settlers has increased against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in recent years. Last year, Human Rights Watch reported that at least 61 Palestinians were injured in 147 incidents of settler violence in the territory.
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