Settlers shoot Palestinian in head while soldiers stand by
A 24 year-old Palestinian was hit in the head from a live round of bullets Saturday in the village of Asira al-Qibliya. B’Tselem footage of the event shows the settlers shooting at the young man, and Israeli soldiers standing by them – doing nothing to prevent it.
According to B’Tselem, the incident started at around 16:30 Saturday, when a group of settlers descended from the extremist settlement Itzhar towards the Palestinian village (as seen in the first video below). According to eye witnesses the settlers – some of them masked and some armed – started fires in the fields near the village and threw stones at Palestinians who moved towards them, who also started throwing stones at the settlers.
Videos shot by residents of Asira al-Qibliya and B’Tselem show a fire in the fields, settlers and Palestinians in confrontation, and soldiers standing near the settlers, yet mostly uninvolved. Amongst the settlers are three people armed with two rifles and one hand-gun, one of them wearing what seems to be a police hat. According to B’Tselem, one of the rifles is a Tavor – commonly seen in the hands of Israeli soldiers.
At one point (between 0:40-0:55 in the video below) one of the settlers is seen aiming his rifle at something, then Palestinians start throwing stones at him, and then he and his partner open intensive fire towards the stone throwers. A soldier nearing the settlers is seen running away back to the direction he and other soldiers were coming from, not preventing the shooting in any way. After a man in a green shirt is hit the soldiers pull back, Palestinians evacuate the man, and the woman with the camera is heard saying the man was shot in the head (Arabic). It would later be found out that the man is 24 year-old Fathi Asira, who is now in a hospital in Nablus. His condition is defined as stable.
It is worth mentioning that throughout the video soldiers are not seen trying to stop the settlers, nor disperse the two crowds in any way, although their intervention could have prevented the injury. It is unclear from the videos who exactly started the fire, as one can see several settlers trying to put it out, and also a Palestinian fire truck. However, the fire is destroying Palestinian fields very close to the village, and did not appear in the first video showing the settlers’ approach – two facts that might support the Palestinians’ claim that it was started by settlers.
The settlement of Itzhar is notorious for its radical extremism, as well as for the many attacks carried by settlers against Palestinians in neighboring villages. The settlement was also attacked itself by Palestinians, including residents of Asira al-Qibilya.
Settlements: a culture of impunity to the law
Approximately 700 Israelis live in the illegal Israeli settlement adjacent to Asira al-Qibliya. This colony, like 250 others throughout the West Bank, is considered illegal under international law as a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This illegality has been confirmed by the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Security Council.
The recent attack was only one of many in the history of the village. In 2011, similar attacks occurred on a weekly basis. This year, the settlers have attempted attacks on Asira up to 3 times each month. The Israeli settlers participating in these aggressions are not always inhabitants of the area. Nevertheless, they show their unity by wearing similar coloured cloth, on the most recent occasion white t-shirts. This may be an indication of long-term planning behind the attack.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 90% of complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment. OCHA reports that, “ the root cause of the settler violence phenomenon is Israel’s decades-long policy of illegally facilitating the settling of its citizens inside occupied Palestinian territory. This activity has resulted in the progressive takeover of Palestinian land, resources and transportation routes and has created two separate systems of rights and privileges, favoring Israeli citizens at the expense of the over 2.5 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank.”
The residents of Asira al-Qibliya are unable to lead a secure life under the constant threat of harassment, intimidation, and attack by the Israeli Occupation Forces and illegal settlers alike.
- Israeli Army Closes Investigation Into A-Samuni Family Killings (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Yitzhar settlers attack school children in Urif (alethonews.wordpress.com)