Young Palestinian dies near Nablus in clash with settlers
The victim, 22-year-old Ali Hassan Harb, died from stab wounds following a violent dispute that broke out following settlers’ attempt to pitch a tent near the village of Iskaka, not far from the settlement of Ariel. As a result, Israeli security forces intervened. The two sides blame each other.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – A Palestinian man died yesterday from stab wounds received during a dispute with a small group of Jewish settlers in a central area of the West Bank.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health and Israeli rights groups, a row broke out near Iskaka, a Palestinian village near the Israeli settlement of Ariel, south of Nablus, after settlers began setting up a tent on village land.
The victim, 22-year-old Ali Hassan Harb, died from stabs sustained during the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians after it turned violent. The stabber’s identity is still unknown.
Israel Police’s West Bank division are investigating the incident. When officers arrived at the scene, they found a “wounded Palestinian man [who] was evacuated in a serious condition, apparently from a stab wound,” police said.
Harb’s cousin, Firas Naim, told AFP that Israeli security forces were present when Harb was killed. He added that when he and relatives, including Harb, heard that settlers were putting up tents on village land they rushed to the site.
Once there, they were confronted by Israeli forces and settlement security guards, who fired shots in the air to intimidate them.
“After they shot in the air, the settlers attacked,” Naim said. “We were just standing there, and a settler came and stabbed him with a knife here [on the side of the body] for no reason”.
In a statement, Yesh Din, an Israeli rights group, said Harb was with his parents on private land near Ariel. When settlers tried to set up a tent, a row broke out between the two sides and the settlers left the place.
The rights group noted that soldiers arrived soon after followed by the settlers, which again sparked more violence between the sides, “during which a settler pulled out a knife and stabbed the young man to death.”
Israeli authorities have a different version of events, claiming that settlers were attacked by a crowd of at least 40 Palestinians with stones and sticks.
The Rescuers Without Borders emergency service, a branch of the Israel-based United Hatzalah, said “the rioters stole bags and equipment” from the Israelis. It added that no Israelis were reported hurt in the incident.
Violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers and soldiers has increased in recent years. Although soldiers are legally authorised to intervene to prevent violent attacks, regardless of who starts it, by and large, they would rather leave the task of stopping attacks and arresting people to the police.
Last October, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz issued a statement telling the military to act “systemically, aggressively and uncompromisingly” against settler violence directed toward Palestinians, activists and security forces.