For the second week in a row video documentation showed violence between Yitzhar settlers and Palestinians in a nearby West Bank village that included arson and a shooting on Saturday.
The IDF on Monday said it was investigating the incident.
B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories released six short videos on Sunday night of an event that lasted for over six hours.
Yitzhar settlers responded with their own short video.
While the videos confirm that violence occurred, it is difficult to clearly discern with absolute certainty who set fire to the fields near Yitzhar and who actually fired a gun.
According to B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli, who was at the scene for part of the afternoon, settlers lit fire to the fields and threw stones at Palestinians from the village of Urif. In one instance, according to B’Tselem, settlers shot at a 24-year old Palestinian man, injuring him in the waist.
One B’Tselem video shows Palestinians evacuating him from the scene in a stretcher.
He was taken by Red Crescent to a hospital in Nablus where he is recovering from his wound following an operation.
Yitzhar spokesman Avraham Binyamin in turn charged that Palestinians set fire to the fields. He added that a Palestinian was shot after he tried to stab some of the soldiers and firefighters at the scene. Avraham did not say who it was that fired at the Palestinian.
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said that the shooting was a defensive act against a terrorist with a knife.
He released a short minuteand- a-half video that showed a blazing fire and smoke. In one shot smoke is billowing from four different flames. It is possible to hear a Hebrew conversation in which two men discuss putting out the flames and their assessment that Palestinians continue to light fires.
“I am here with the firefighters,” said one voice in the video.
“Tell Moshe that [the Palestinians] are continuing to ignite [fires],” said another voice.
The video then moves to a shot of a Palestinian man wearing black pants and a shirt, with his hands tied behind his back with a keffiyeh.
On the ground next to him is a sheathed knife.
B’Tselem in turn released a number of videos which showed men dressed in white, presumed to be settlers. In some cases their faces are masked. At some points in the videos they can be seen throwing stones at Palestinians.
The B’Tselem videos also catch shots of Palestinians throwing stones at settlers, including one who used a slingshot.
At various points in the videos it is possible to see young men spread out across the hilltop. In some cases, the young men are standing in a spot and after they leave it, a flame bursts out.
In the clearest video, shot by Michaeli, a man dressed in white, presumed to be a settler, can be seen walking across a dry field, with a red scarf over his face. He moves his arm in a gesture that looks as if he is lighting something.
He then walks behind a tree, emerges and walks away with another young man. As they leave the scene a red fire bursts out.
“I saw 10 settlers masked on a hillside,” said Michaeli.
“Two of them descended into one of the olive groves and lit a fire. You can see it from the video. You see them walking in, a movement with the hand and then immediately, a fire started burning. It was an area that had not been on fire previously,” she said.
Binyamin in turn said that this was the fourth weekend in a row in which Palestinians had set fire to the fields.
Both Binyamin and Mesika charged that B’Tselem had helped instigate the events.
Mesika called on the police to issue restraining orders against “extremist” left-wing activists and other “agitators” who are endangering lives with their provocative actions.
Michaeli said that such a charge was “ridiculous.” She added that B’Tselem, which provided the Palestinians with cameras to document settler violence, was proud of its work.
She added that the facts of the case were very clear. All the evidence obtained has been passed to the military and the police. Michaeli called on Israeli security forces to protect the Palestinians from continued violent.
On May 20, Palestinian volunteers for B’Tselem shot a video
which clearly showed Yitzhar security personnel shooting at Palestinians who were holding sticks and throwing stones, as fires raged in the background.
One Palestinian was shot and hospitalized. He has since been released, according to B’Tselem.
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