Israeli settlers renew attack on Palestinians in West Bank

Ahram Online, AFP , Thursday 21 Feb 2013

Settlers terrorise residents in the northern West Bank village of Qusra one month after destroying 200 Arab-owned olive trees

West Bank
Israeli soldiers throw stun grenades and fire tear gas towards stone-throwing Palestinians during clashes at Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus February 20, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Israeli settlers on Thursday torched seven cars in the northern West Bank village of Qusra, Palestinian security sources said.

The sources told AFP that attackers set fire to the vehicles and residents of the village, near the city of Nablus, saw them driving to the nearby settlement outpost of Esh Kodesh.

Villagers last month accused the settlers of damaging around 200 olive trees following clashes between Qusra and Esh Kodesh residents, during which Palestinians threw stones at the settlers, who according to Palestinian officials, responded with gunfire and wounded an 18-year-old.

Last October, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, condemned a wave of attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian olive groves and called Israel to punish the perpetrators.

"These acts are reprehensible and I call on the government of Israel to bring those responsible to justice," he said.

Israeli rights group Yesh Din said in a study published on Sunday that it had logged 35 attacks targeting olive trees, grapevines and other fruit trees between September 2011 and July 2012, but that in 99 percent of cases police had closed the investigation files for lack of evidence.

On early January 2013, a group of settlers attacked Palestinians in the West Bank-located village of Jalud overnight, injuring seven people. Palestinian security officials said a two-month-old baby was among those injured.

An army spokesman told AFP that the settlers had damaged two cars, thrown stones at houses and forcibly entered one home, beating a Palestinian who was afterwards taken to hospital.

Clashes between Palestinians and settlers have increased in the West Bank in recent months, with a radical fringe of Israelis attacking Palestinian property, including olive trees and cars.

Israel's government announced in December 2012 a plan that involves the building 2,610 homes in East Jerusalem and tenders for 1,048 units in the West Bank in response to the UN General Assembly vote to recognise Palestine as a non-member state one month earlier.

However, in a statement released by his office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for "3,000 years," adding that his government will continue its plans for settlement construction in Jerusalem.

"Building new settlements serves the interests of the people living in Jerusalem, regardless if they are Jews or Arabs," Israeli radio reported Netanyahu said during his meeting with ambassadors to Israel from Asia in Jerusalem.

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