Israeli settler 'shot at Palestinians using soldier's rifle'

Israeli settler 'shot at Palestinians using soldier's rifle'
The attack, which took place on 26 June in the Palestinian village of Al-Tuwani, was one of a number of violent incidents that day.
3 min read
02 August, 2021
A Jewish settler in the occupied West Bank shot at Palestinians using the weapon of an Israeli soldier [screenshot from B'Tselem's video]

An Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank shot at Palestinians using the weapon of an Israeli soldier, according to a video released by human rights group B'Tselem.

Palestinians at the scene told the Israeli daily Haaretz that an Israeli soldier gave his weapon to the settler, who arrived at the scene in a military jeep.

The attack, which took place on 26 June in the Palestinian village of Al-Tuwani, was one of a number of violent incidents that day, which saw Israeli settlers hurl rocks, vandalise trees, and burn a Palestinian building.

According to the B'Tselem video, Palestinians can be seen telling Israeli forces at the scene that a settler had just shot at them.

"The soldier gave him his M-16 and stood with the army jeep really close to him, 5 to 10 meters from there," said a Palestinian resident of al-Tuwani, who stood on the roof of his home during the incident, according to the Haaretz report.

"With me there were 10 children on the roof and all of us shook, he didn't fire in the air, he shot toward us," he said.

Another eyewitness, who was on the same roof, said he also saw the Israeli soldier give his rifle to the settler, according to Haaretz.

"I was waiting for a bullet to hit me, he really aimed in our direction," said another Palestinian who filmed the incident.

According to both the Palestinians' account and the B'Tselem video, at some point the Israeli soldier drove away in his jeep, and the settler returned without a gun.

The footage also shows Israeli forces at the scene as settlers vandalised trees.

Israeli forces alleged that the settler "took the weapon from the soldier and shot in the air", according to a military statement cited by Haaretz.

Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, and commits various abuses against Palestinian civilians, human rights groups say.

More than 600,000 Jewish Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions deemed illegal under international law.

In April, the UN raised alarm over a marked upsurge in settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, with assaults and property destruction occurring in "an atmosphere of impunity".

In the first three months of 2021, the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented over 210 settler violent incidents, with one Palestinian fatality.

In 2020, it recorded 771 incidents of settler violence causing injury to 133 Palestinians and damaging 9,646 trees and 184 vehicles mostly in the areas of Hebron, Jerusalem, Nablus and Ramallah.

The UN group urged Israel to investigate and prosecute these "violent acts with vigour and resolve".

The attacks, according to the UN agency, were primarily designed to take over land but also to intimidate and terrorise Palestinians.

"They primarily target the livelihoods of rural Palestinians, vandalising livestock, agricultural lands, trees and homes," a statement by OCHA experts said.

"Besides the presence and expansion of Israeli settlements, which are intended to establish illegal claims for Israeli sovereignty, settler violence is meant to make the daily lives of Palestinians untenable."

OCHA experts said that Israeli troops do not protect Palestinians from settler violence.

"We are deeply worried by the atmosphere of impunity in which these attacks are taking place," they said in the report.

"In many cases, the Israeli military has been present, or nearby, and has not taken sufficient steps to protect the Palestinians from this violence," they said.

"This amounts to a discriminatory two-tier approach to military protection and policing in the West Bank."