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Israeli settlers attack ICRC staff with pepper spray in the West Bank

Israeli security forces stand guard next to members of the Palestinian Red Crescent in the West Bank, on December 20, 2015 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli security forces stand guard next to members of the Palestinian Red Crescent in the West Bank, on December 20, 2015 [HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli settlers attacked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers yesterday in Burin town, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, reported Wafa news agency.

According to Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activities in that area, the settlers used pepper spray to attack the staff of ICRC visiting the village, causing painful burns of the face and hands of three of the staff members.

The assault occurred while the ICRC staff was conducting a field visit with Palestinian farmers to check on settler attacks against Palestinian farmers who were harvesting their olive crops.

Burin and other neighbouring villages in the south of Nablus have long been targeted by settlers living in illegal settlements and outposts in the area.

The ICRC supports Palestinian farmers whose olive groves are located near the West Bank barrier, or close to settlements and outposts, throughout the season, to help them reach their land safely and on time.

READ: ICRC calls to end Palestine hunger striker crisis in Israel jails

Following the assault, the ICRC issued a statement condemning the attacks by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

"ICRC staff was attacked with pepper spray by Israeli settlers during a joint field visit with Palestinian farmers and IDF officials in the area of Burin town south of Nablus. IDF officials present on the ground escorted ICRC staff to their military base, where they provided first aid," the statement read.

"This is not the first time ICRC staff has been attacked while carrying out its work in the West Bank," the aid agency added.

In general, West Bankers are exposed to frequent settler attacks, which include acts of physical violence, vandalism, and the destruction of Palestinian farmlands.

Some 650,000 Israelis are currently living illegally in the occupied West Bank, scattered across 164 settlements and 124 outposts. Under international law, all Jewish settlements and outposts in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.

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