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Settler attack on Yanoun leaves 5 injured



A heavily-armed settler in Yanoun with Israeli soldiers, 7 July 2012. Photo: EAPPI/K. Roldan

Locals in the tiny Palestinian village of Yanoun in the West Bank are in still in shock after the latest attack on their community by the neighbouring Itamar settlement. Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) from the Yanoun team witnessed first-hand most of Saturday’s violence, which left five Palestinians in hospital.

The attack began mid-afternoon, when three Palestinian farmers working in their fields were set upon by settlers armed with machine guns and knives. The settlers stabbed three of the farmers’ sheep to death. When EAs arrived at the scene at the request of the head of the village, there were also fires burning in two wheat fields and an olive grove. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at Palestinians who were trying to reach the area to put out the fires.

Four members of the Bani Jaber family were badly injured, with some allegedly beaten both by soldiers and settlers. EAs were told that the worst-injured, Jawdat Bani Jaber was beaten and stabbed multiple times by settlers, then shot in the face and the foot by Israeli soldiers. He was then denied medical care for three hours. Another Yanoun villager, Jawdat Ibrahim was also reportedly beaten by both soldiers and settlers. In a badly wounded state, he was tied up and abandoned in his fields away from the village. He was not found by his family until the next morning, when he was rushed to hospital in Nablus.

The head of Yanoun village, Rashed Murrar says he fears the attack was designed to drive Palestinians off their wheat fields so they can be taken over by the Itamar settlement. Wheat farming is a vital source of income for the village, which has just 65 inhabitants and is surrounded on three sides by illegal settlement outposts.

Militant settlers from Itamar have a track record of attacking Yanoun residents. In 2002, the entire village was forced to flee and was only able to return due to the intervention of international and Israeli human rights groups. Since 2003, EAPPI has maintained a round-the-clock protective presence in Yanoun, reporting on human rights violations.

EAPPI and the World Council of Churches have consistently called on Israeli authorities to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect Palestinians from settler attacks.