Well known Israeli left-wing activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman was violently assaulted on Wednesday by Jewish hilltop youth in the West Bank, Israeli media reported.
Video footage of the incident shows a number of hilltop youth surrounding Ascherman when a masked suspect suddenly runs toward him and begins repeatedly beating him with a long wooden club.
Despite some of the bystanders pleading with the assailant to stop, the violent incident lasts for nearly 30 seconds, with no one actually taking action to stop the attack.
The incident occurred near the Maale Ahuvia outpost, illegally erected by settlers in memory of Ahuvia Sandak, a hilltop youth who died in a car crash while escaping police last year, sparking nationwide protests.
On Tuesday, Border Police cleared the outpost, including two tents, just east of the Beit El settlement.
Ascherman arrived in the area on Wednesday in order to ask Jewish shepherds to divert their herd from nearby plowed fields belonging to Palestinians. A video published by Ascherman on his Twitter account, meant to depict the minutes preceding the attack, shows a heated conversation between himself and several shepherds, during which one of them calls him a "murderer" and threatens him.
Hilltop youth violence in the West Bank has been on the rise in the past few weeks. On Sunday, Human rights organization Yesh Din reported that dozens of Israeli settlers from the outpost of Esh Kodesh attacked a Palestinian man with rocks and clubs near Jalud, southern of Nablus.
Ascherman himself reported earlier this year that his vehicle had been vandalized while he was in the West Bank, presumably by settlers and/or Jewish extremists. He said that the bolts of his wheels had been loosened such that the wheels of the vehicle could have come off while he was driving.
Ascherman served as president of the NGO Rabbis for Human Rights
for 21 years and later founded the Israeli Human Rights organization Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice. As a human rights activist, Ascherman has not only actively protected Palestinian farmers from violence directed toward them by settlers, while often putting himself in harm's way, but has also fought for socio-economic justice for Israelis and Bedouins in southern Israel.
Violence in the West Bank continues to rage while being directed from all directions. The IDF reported 1,500 stoning incidents against Israelis in the West Bank in 2020 and 229 Molotov cocktail incidents.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.