Israeli settlers attacked the Mayor of Sebastia, Mohammad Azem, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus as he tried to prevent them from beating and abducting a Palestinian child, reported Wafa news agency.
Azem told Wafa that dozens of Israeli settlers arrived at the town’s archeological site under the protection of Israeli soldiers and that while they were there, they attempted to kidnap a child.
He said he immediately intervened to help the child and prevented the settlers from taking him. He added that, as he was taking the child away, he was assaulted by several settlers. Israeli occupation forces stood by and did not intervene.
Attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians are common, particularly by extreme right-wingers. They are rarely held to account by the occupation authorities. Indeed, in most cases, the settlers who harass and attack Palestinians are accompanied and protected by Israeli soldiers.
Israeli settlers have recently intensified their presence at the Palestinian archeological site as the army closes the area to Palestinian residents.
The area has been identified as the capital of the northern kingdom during the Iron Age II in Palestine and a major urban centre during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, according to UNESCO.
At least 600,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 250 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. According to international law, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are classified occupied Palestinian territories and all Jewish settlements built there and the settlers who live in them are illegal.