The West Bank Palestinian village of Urif is no stranger to incursions and attacks by Israelis – both military and civilian. Most of the time, however, the two come separately.
A series of videos released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem on Wednesday show what appear to be masked Israeli settlers entering the Nablus area village and throwing stones on Monday. According to B’Tselem witnesses, they threw the stones toward a Palestinian school, all while being escorted by Israeli soldiers.
Not only do the Israeli soldiers make no attempt (seen in the video) to stop the marauding settlers, when Palestinian schoolchildren throw stones back at their attackers, the soldiers join in – firing tear gas at the Palestinians, according to B’Tselem.
At another point in the video, one of the masked settlers appears to be directing others with a large two-way radio.
According to B’Tselem, whose volunteer videographers witnessed the scene, the settlers approached a USAID-funded water reservoir construction site in the village, threw stones at a family home and broke an electricity meter.
“The filmed record indicates that the military, which is required to defend Palestinians in the West Bank, in actual fact served as a security entourage for violent settlers,” B’Tselem said in a statement, adding that, “the military backed the settlers in their assault on Palestinians and their property.”
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Early in 2013, the Israeli military was filmed harassing the entire village of Urif by driving through the village in the middle of the night blaring sirens, throwing stun grenades and yelling through loudspeakers, “Good morning Urif.” (Video here.) Soldiers in that case were reprimanded.
In May of 2013, following the murder of a settler from Yitzhar, the army also escorted masked settlers as they attacked Urif and a neighboring Palestinian village of Asira al-Qibliya.
Later the same month, soldiers stood by as masked settlers shot a Palestinian man in the head in Asira al-Qibliya.
In all of the cases mentioned in this report, the settlers were alleged to have come from Yitzhar, although due to the fact that they wear masks, their identity has not been confirmed in most cases. As can be seen in the video of this week’s incident, however, the IDF could easily have detained or identified the attackers.