Settlers pelt Palestinian school buses

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Israeli police prevent settlers from blocking the main road near Palestinian village of Hawara during attacks on the West Bank, as smoke billows from crops they set fire to on 30 April 2013. (Photo: AFP - Menahem Kahana)

Published Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Palestinian officials cancelled school trips for Wednesday after a mob of settlers attacked two buses transporting schoolgirls in the northern West Bank Tuesday.

Settlers, angry over the fatal stabbing of a Jewish man by a Palestinian earlier in the day, forced the buses to stop near the illegal Yizhar settlement before pelting them with stones, Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas told local news agency Ma’an. He said five schoolgirls were injured in the attack.

Masked settlers also burned tires at road junctions in Nablus and hurled stones at Palestinian cars, Daghlas added.

Others set fire to dozens of olive trees in the Nablus villages of Asira al-Qibliya and Urif, attacked a mosque in the area, and vandalized vehicles east of Tulkarem.

The attack against al-Ribat mosque in Urif village sparked violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops, who showered them with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades.

Overall more than 20 Palestinians were injured in the attacks, Daghlas told Ma'an.

Daghlas, who monitors settlement violence, said four Palestinians were injured and taken to the Rafedia Hospital in Nablus for treatment.

Khalid Safadi and Husam Abdul-Fattah were shot in the head by plastic-coated bullets, and Ahmad Foksh was shot in the foot. Adel Safadi was hit in the face by a high-velocity tear gas canister, Daghlas said.

The official urged Palestinians to exercise extreme caution while driving near settlements, adding that he expects more attacks to take place during the day.

Mahmoud al-Habbash, PA minister for religious affairs, slammed the attack against the mosque, saying the Israeli government encouraged settler violence by providing soldiers to protect them.

The attacks come after a Palestinian fatally stabbed a settler as he waited at a hitchhiking spot south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Israeli border police sped to the area and fired towards the attacker, who grabbed his victim's weapon and returned fire but was eventually disarmed and taken into custody, an Israeli police spokeswoman said.



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