Israeli settlers step up violent attacks against Palestinians

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A Palestinian is seen during a protest against Israeli raids in al-Ram district in annexed Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. Anadolu / Issam Rimawi

Published Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Israeli settler shot and seriously injured a 16-year-old Palestinian teenager on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Beitin village, Ma’an news agency reported, hours after settlers stabbed a Palestinian in north Jerusalem and attacked a Palestinian school in the village of Urif in the occupied West Bank.

Ibrahim Mahmoud, 16, was shot with a live bullet following a settler demonstration on the outskirts of Beitin, east of Ramallah. Medical sources at the Palestine Medical Complex said his injuries were serious but his condition was stable.

Tuesday’s hate crimes against Palestinians came two days after a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged inside his vehicle in Jerusalem.

Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced on Tuesday that Israeli authorities are to ease regulations on Israelis carrying weapons for "self-defense," raising fears that the number of attacks on Palestinians will increase.

"In the coming hours, I will ease restrictions on carrying weapons," he said in remarks broadcast on public radio, indicating it would apply to any Israeli with a license to carry a gun, such as private security guards and off-duty army officers.

Aharonovitch's announcement followed news of an attack on a synagogue by two Palestinians that left four Israelis dead in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Soon after the synagogue attack, dozens of Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian school in the village of Urif in the occupied West Bank, prompting Palestinian villagers to clash with the attackers and stop them from storming the school.

Six Palestinians were injured by “sponge rounds” after the Israeli Occupation Forces interfered.

Sponge-tipped bullets are made from high-density plastic with a foam-rubber head, and are fired from grenade launchers. Even though protocol explicitly prohibits firing them at the upper body, last week an 11-year-old Palestinian was left blind in one eye after being shot in the face with a sponge-tipped bullet.

Palestinian security sources said that several Israeli settlers smashed Palestinian vehicles as they passed the al-Lubban al-Sharqiya road and threw rocks at Palestinians late on Tuesday.

Earlier that day, Fadi Jalal Radwan, 22, was attacked and stabbed three times in the leg and once in the back by four Israelis while walking in the town of Kafr Aqab. The victim was found bleeding in the street and was rushed to Hadassah hospital for treatment. Doctors said he was in a critical condition.

Hate crimes by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property, referred to as “price tag” attacks, are systematic and often abetted by Israeli authorities, who rarely intervene in the violent attacks or prosecute the perpetrators.

Unrest has gripped Jerusalem and the West Bank on an almost daily basis for the past four months, flaring up after a group of Zionist settlers kidnapped and killed a young Palestinian because of his ethnicity.

Last month, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah slammed Israel for failing to hold Zionist settlers accountable for a recent wave of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

"The Israeli government has never brought settlers to account for the terrorism and intimidation they commit [against Palestinians]," Hamdallah said.

The Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) monthly report stated that one Palestinian child was killed and six others Palestinians injured, four of them children, after being deliberately hit by Israeli settler vehicles in October.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there were at least 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2013.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous Balfour Declaration, called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.

(Ma'an, Al-Akhbar)

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