At least 216 Palestinians injured during Israeli settlers' attack on Beita
Israeli forces wounded at least 216 Palestinians during protests in the occupied West Bank village of Beita, east of Nablus, with at least 22 injuries by rubber bullets and more than 118 were asphyxiated with tear gas, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in a statement on Tuesday.
Beita's villagers protested an attack on their lands on Mount Sabih by hundreds of Israeli settlers, accompanied by several Israeli politicians, including Israel's security minister Itamar Ben Gvir and finance minister Bezalel Smotrich.
Palestinians in Beita have been protesting against an illegal settler outpost on Mount Sabih since mid-2021. Weekly confrontations with Israeli forces, including "night disturbances", such as burning tires and loud noises near the illegal outpost have become characteristic of Beita's protests. Eight Palestinians were killed and hundreds were wounded or injured by Israeli forces during that period.
Thousands of Israeli settlers marched through the northern West Bank today towards the Palestinian village of Beita flanked by Israeli regime forces.— Dr. Yara Hawari د. يارا هواري (@yarahawari) April 10, 2023
Among them were dozens of Israeli regime ministers & lawmakers.
Meanwhile Palestinians were tear gassed & their roads closed. pic.twitter.com/buzq2mPXzY
As a result, the Israeli government evacuated settlers from the outpost in July of 2021 but still maintains the outpost and its structures to use as a thoracic school, according to an agreement between the government and the settlers.
Israeli settlers, however, have been trying to forcefully return ever since. In turn, Palestinians in Beita have continued to protest, demanding the complete removal of the illegal outpost.
"There are a lot of rubber bullet shots right now, and there is tear gas everywhere. Many people are injured," Wahaj Bani Mufleh, a local photographer based in Beita, told The New Arab during the protests.
"Settlers are on Mount Sabih by the hundreds, and we can hear them singing and chanting from across the valley while the occupation soldiers shoot at us," described Bani Mufleh.
#Israeli soldiers are casually throwing stun grenades & firing rubber-tipped bullets at Palestinian *JOURNALISTS* who are trying to cover a demonstration in Beita!— Muhammad Shehada (@muhammadshehad2) April 10, 2023
No democracy with occupation! pic.twitter.com/19T85mf8oZ
"Early on Monday, settlers began to gather at the Zaatara crossing, preparing to march on Mont Sabih, then around 9:00 am, the storming began," Majdi Hamayel, a writer and activist from Beita, told TNA.
"Occupation forces had anticipated and sneaked into the olive groves on the way to Mount Sabih, setting snipers to stop villagers from approaching and protesting," said Hamayel.
"Despite this, many villagers, especially young men, made it through and protested very close to the settlers' storming site, but many were injured," he pointed out.
"Ben-Gvir has come to Mount Sabih many times before as part of his political campaign among settlers," noted Hamayel.
"Settler organisations who continue to insist on re-establishing the settlement on Mount Sabih are supported by Israeli politicians like Ben-Gvir and protected by the army," he stressed. "This means that the settlement expansion on our lands is a state enterprise, not an action by rogue settlers."
Israeli media reported that the settlers' storming Mount Sabih on Monday was secured by an entire battalion of the Israeli army and thousands of Israeli border police troops.
A settler leader and one of the attack's organisers, Daniela Weiss, was quoted by Israeli media saying that the storming of Mount Sabih on Monday was a form of "pressure on the government to break free from the dictates of the US and Europe" in regards to the illegality of Israeli settlements.
Weiss appeared in another settler storming on Mount Sabih in late February, speaking to Israeli media from Mount Sabih. She then refused to condemn the Israeli settlers' pogrom in the town of Hawara, only seven kilometres from Beita, in which settlers killed one Palestinian, injured dozens and torched 30 Palestinian homes. Rather, she described settlers who participated in the pogrom as "her friends".
The Nablus and northern Ramallah regions in the occupied West Bank have been at the centre of Israeli settlers' violence in recent months, with almost daily attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian villages, crops and property.
Last weekend, the Palestinian Higher Commission for Israeli Settlements and Wall Affairs released a report, stating that in March alone, there were 436 attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.