Military prosecutors have launched an investigation into an incident in which soldiers failed to stop settlers from hurling rocks at Palestinians in the northern West Bank, the IDF said Wednesday.
“From an initial examination, it has emerged that the forces did not act as required. Standing orders are not to allow masked individuals to act, to document them, and to transfer them to police. In addition to the inquiry, these orders will be clarified to the ground forces,” the IDF Spokesman added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the non-governmental group B’Tselem said soldiers stood idly by as masked settlers hurled rocks on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Orif. B’Tselem provided extensive video evidence of the event, which occurred on Monday.
“The soldiers did nothing to stop them or distance them,” B’Tselem said in a statement to the press.
In the video, four settler youths with their faces masked and some wearing religious fringed garments, known as tzizit, can be seen throwing stones at Palestinians, at one point just inches away from the soldiers.
In the distance, soldiers can be heard firing tear gas canisters. Another settler can be seen talking into a radio. At no point in the seven minute video do the settlers appear concerned by the IDF presence.
The incident, which lasted for some 50 minutes, took place at a construction site run by USAID for a water reservoir near the Palestinian city of Nablus and the settlement of Yitzhar, according to B’Tselem.
“Settlers broke the electric meter and threw stones at the home of the Safadie family, next to the construction site,” B’Tselem said, which was a few meters away from a school.
School pupils responded to the settler attack by throwing stones, B’Tselem said, after which soldiers fired tear gas and teachers rounded up the pupils and brought them inside.
According to B’Tselem, a number of settler vehicles, including one that belongs to a settlement security team, were parked next to the IDF unit’s jeeps. The B’Tselem video included a shot of the vehicles.
B’Tselem has charged that the IDF failed in its obligation to protect the Palestinians and it called on the army to immediately open an investigation into the matter.