Settlers reportedly beat Palestinians

Palestinian witnesses: Masked men pepper-sprayed West Bank farmers and hit them with sticks.

Palestinian farmer 224.8 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Palestinian farmer 224.8
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Police opened an investigation Tuesday afternoon into claims that residents of the Palestinian village of Tal were attacked by masked Hebrew-speaking assailants, who the Palestinians believe were settlers. Judea and Samaria Police confirmed that they received word through the IDF's District Coordination Offices that Red Cross workers in Nablus had reported two Palestinians wounded in a confrontation Tuesday approximately one half-kilometer from the Havat Gilad outpost. Police said that according to the report, two Palestinian residents of the village Tal were working in the area when they were attacked by six settlers. The two were both injured, they said, and taken to a Nablus hospital for treatment. A local Palestinian leader, Omar Shtayeh, said he had filed a complaint with Israeli authorities about Tuesday's incident. According to the police, however, no formal complaint had been submitted, but nevertheless, the Samaria Subdistrict has opened an investigation to probe the circumstances of the incident. Eyewitness accounts claimed that masked Jewish settlers beat and sprayed pepper spray on four, rather than two, Palestinians who were planting wheat in the field. The Palestinians said the attackers spoke Hebrew among themselves. "They parked on the road and we thought they were just hiking but suddenly they put on masks and they sprayed me in my eyes and beat me and I couldn't see who it was," said farmer Hussein Asida, 46. A Palestinian youth, 15, was among those attacked, Asida said. This is not the first violent confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians in the same area - in October 2006, three Palestinians and one Israeli were lightly injured when a scuffle erupted between them. Also this year, during the fall olive harvests, Tal residents said that they were attacked by assailants coming from the direction of Havat Gilad. AP contributed to this article.