Israeli soldiers and illegal settlers attacked residents of a Palestinian herding community in the southern West Bank on Monday evening, Anadolu has reported. One of the Palestinians needed medical treatment after inhaling tear gas fired by the soldiers.
According to Fuad Al-Amour, the coordinator of the Protection and Resilience Committee in the south of Hebron, two settlers sent a flock of sheep onto the land owned by the community in Al-Jawaya, east of Yatta town. When the residents tried to remove the sheep, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at them. The Palestinian who suffered breathing difficulties as a result of the tear gas was treated by a medical team at the scene.
At least five settlers from illegal settlement outposts in the area have received support from settler associations to establish farms protected and supported by the army. "The settler shepherds are exploiting private land that the Israeli army classifies as 'state-owned land', estimated at thousands of acres," Al-Amour pointed out. "Palestinians are prevented from entering it."
A report issued by the PLO's National Office for the Defence of Land last October revealed that Israel threatens more than 3,000 Palestinians who live on around 38,500 dunams of land in small communities to the south and east of Hebron.
Settler violence has increased in the occupied West Bank recently. The Palestinians accuse the Israeli authorities of condoning settlers' attacks.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that settlers carried out 496 recorded attacks against Palestinians last year. There were another 53 attacks from the beginning of this year until 7 February.
Data from the Israeli human rights movement, Peace Now, indicates that there are around 666,000 settlers who live in 145 large settlements and 140 random outposts in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.