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Prominent rabbi assaulted by Israeli settlers as he defends Palestinians

Israeli Rabbi Arik Ascherman from "Rabbis for Human Rights" plants an olive tree together with Palestinian residents of the West Bank village of Biddu, on 12 March 2004, during a protest against Israel's security barrier at the site where the work started. [GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli Rabbi Arik Ascherman from "Rabbis for Human Rights" plants an olive tree together with Palestinian residents of the West Bank village of Biddu, on 12 March 2004, during a protest against Israel's security barrier at the site where the work started. [GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images]

The former president of Rabbis for Human Rights was violently assaulted by far-right Israeli settlers yesterday. Video footage of the brutal attack near the Maale Ahuvia illegal settlement outpost, shows prominent Rabbi Arik Ascherman being beaten with a wooden club while surrounded by settlers.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Ascherman arrived in the area to ask Jewish shepherds to divert their flock from ploughed fields nearby belonging to local Palestinians. He used his Twitter account to share a video depicting the minutes preceding the attack; a heated conversation between himself and several settlers; and one of them calling him a "murderer" while threatening him.

Following the assault, Ascherman said that Israeli occupation forces stood by and watched as he was beaten with a club. "The brutal attack on me happened because Israeli security forces allowed Ma'aleh Ahuvia to rebuild after evacuating it yesterday," he explained, "and didn't stop the flocks from entering Dir Jarir lands to eat what is growing there."

Video of attack:

Last month, Ascherman was taken to a hospital emergency room following an attack by Israeli settlers, which saw him having stitches in his ear as his arm was checked to see if it was broken. Writing about the incident in the Times of Israel, the rabbi described what he called "the resurgence of Kahanism" and said that, "This was the latest and most serious of many attacks in the last few weeks. I've lost count, but have submitted close to ten police complaints about attacks."

Read: Israel settlers spray racist graffiti, set fire to cars in Palestinian village

Sharing a photo of the tear on his ear, Ascherman explained that, "I have not been the only victim, and of course the real victims are the Palestinians. The story is the same one I have told several times."

The settlers, he said, are "driven by an insatiable drive to dispossess Palestinian." He explained that they go on an almost daily basis to steal what others have planted in order to cause sufficient fear and financial loss to get the Palestinian Bedouin to give up, and not come back to their summer homes where their animals graze on what they have planted.

Ascherman served as president of the Rabbis for Human Rights NGO for 21 years and later founded the Israeli human rights organisation Torat Tzedek (Torah of Justice). As a human rights activist, he has not only protected Palestinian farmers from violence directed toward them by settlers, while often putting himself in harm's way, but has also fought for socio-economic justice for Israelis and Bedouins in southern Israel.

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