The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, known as B’Tselem, has released a videotape of Israeli occupation soldiers providing support and protection to settlers during their attack against a Palestinian village in the West Bank.
Usama Safadi, a Palestinian resident of Urif village near Nablus in northern West Bank, recorded the video on Monday morning, 6 January 2014, when a group of masked settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement entered the village and began attacking Palestinian properties and throwing stones at the Safadi family house. The video shows at least one armed settlement guard escorting the settlers for protection while they attacked the village school, located about 100 metres away. During the entire attack, a group of Israeli soldiers stood by watching without doing anything to stop the settlers or to remove them from the site. However, when Palestinian children responded to the settlers’ aggression against their school by throwing stones back in self-defence, the soldiers fired tear gas canisters at the children. Later, the school teachers sent the students back inside the school building to protect them.
The nearly one hour long videotape ends as the settlers retreat. On their way out, they pass by several Israeli military jeeps belonging to the soldiers, next to which the truck of the settlement guard is also parked. The settlers and their guard are then seen approaching the truck and one of them picks up his coat from the trunk, as they remain lingering. Even at this stage, the Israeli soldiers do not attempt to stop them or check their identities. Before the video ends, five soldiers are seen leaving the village in the direction of the settlement.
B’Tselem said the documentation shows how the Israeli soldiers ignored their duty to protect the Palestinians during the attack, pointing out that they “did not put an end to the violent acts they witnessed, responding only when Palestinians threw stones back at the settlers. The soldiers also do not seem to have made any attempt to identify the masked individuals or detain them until the police arrived on the scene, so they could be charged appropriately.”
According to B’Tselem, the Israeli soldiers did not even testify about these events in front of the police. The rights organisation concluded that: “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. During the incident, the military backed the settlers in their assault on Palestinians and their property.”
B’Tselem confirmed that it plans to file a complaint with the relevant authorities, demanding an immediate investigation into the incident. The complaint will focus on the actions of the Israeli soldiers and officers who were on site, as well as the settlers and their security personnel.
The rights organisation added that it will demand for the Israeli army to clarify to its forces serving in the West Bank that their duty is to protect Palestinians and their properties from such attacks.