Israeli occupation forces accompanied Jewish settlers during an assault on Palestinian villagers, then shot and killed a local teen who posed no threat to life.
The incident, which took place on 10 March this year, was investigated by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, who published their damning conclusions on Monday.
At around 5.30pm on the day in question, some 20-30 settlers from Yitzhar – a notorious settlement close to Nablus in the occupied West Bank – walked to ‘Urif, a nearby Palestinian village.
Some settlers “were masked, some carried wood or and metal clubs, and at least two carried guns”. According to B’Tselem, “three armed Israeli soldiers escorted the settlers”.
In response, local Palestinian residents gathered to defend their village, and, in the ensuing confrontation, “settlers threw stones at the Palestinians, including with slingshots, and the Palestinians threw stones at the settlers and soldiers”.
The soldiers, however, “threw stun grenades at the Palestinians and fired teargas canisters, rubber-coated metal bullets”, and even “live ammunition”.
After half an hour, the settlers left, but the three Israeli soldiers remained at the scene, as did some of the village youth, who took cover “behind a small hill beside the reservoir, and threw stones at the soldiers from there”, who were positioned “a few dozen metres away”.
Opening fire, the Israeli forces shot two Palestinians: one, a 14-year-old child, was injured – another, 19-year-old Omar Shehadeh, was hit in the chest and killed.
B’Tselem noted that their investigation showed how “the three soldiers allowed dozens of settlers to enter ‘Urif village land and then took part with the settlers in the ensuing clashes, offering them protection and firing teargas, rubber-coated metal bullets, and live ammunition at the Palestinians”.
The investigation also confirmed that the soldiers shot and killed Omar, and injured the child, despite the fact that they were not in mortal danger.
Just like in dozens of other incidents that have occurred – and continue to occur – in the West Bank, soldiers once again protected settlers as they went onto land that belongs to Palestinian residents and threw stones at the Palestinians
Such assaults are “met with silence by the Israeli authorities, who consistently refrain from enforcing the law in the case of settlers who attack Palestinians and soldiers who enable and even participate in such attacks.”
In addition, B’Tselem added, “the absence of law enforcement is also evident in cases in which soldiers fire at Palestinians, inflicting death or injury”.
“No price to pay means no deterrence, so violent attacks – including the use of lethal force – continue undisturbed. This violence is a key component in Israel’s ability to maintain its violent control over millions of Palestinians for the past 50 plus years,” the NGO concluded.