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DOZENS of Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian village in the West Bank on Tuesday, hurling stones and leaving several people, including a toddler, wounded, activists reported today.
Video footage released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem showed several shirtless settlers with scarves wrapped around their faces hurling stones at a cluster of Palestinian homes and vehicles.
Israeli troops are seen standing among the settlers, failing to take any action to stop them.
Local Palestinian activist Sami Hureini said a group of settlers attacked a Palestinian shepherd near the village of Mufaqara and slaughtered four of his sheep.
He said they then stormed the village and attacked residents with clubs and stones, leaving four-year-old Mohammed Bakr hospitalised with a head injury.
A video put online after the attacks shows several goats stabbed, struggling to remain upright, with others killed.
B’Tselem said Israeli troops fired tear gas at Palestinian residents and arrested at least one Palestinian.
In the footage shared by the group, an Israeli soldier can be seen throwing a tear gas grenade at the Palestinian who filmed the attack and then shoving him.
The Israeli military has declined to comment, saying it was still gathering information about the incident.
Israeli police described it as a “friction incident” and said that two Palestinians and a settler were arrested. It said people were wounded on both sides and that it was still investigating.
Local Palestinian official Mohammed Amr said that the unprecedented attack was aimed at driving Palestinians off the land to make way for more settlements.
“The goal is to force these citizens to leave their homes and lands,” he said.
Nearly 500,000 settlers live in the occupied West Bank, which Israel violently seized in 1967, while more than 2.5 million Palestinians live in the territory, which includes the Palestinian administrative capital Ramallah.
There are currently 120 settlements, authorised by the Israeli government but illegal under international law, which are continuously expanding in size, and more settlers have established dozens of outposts in rural parts of the West Bank, often pushing out the Bedouin community.
Israeli authorities have remained reluctant to dismantle these outposts in order to avoid confrontation with settlers.
B’Tselem said the settlers who took part in the attacks on Tuesday came from two of the nearby outposts, now renamed Avigayil and Havat Maon.
The area has seen a series of recent settler attacks, and rights groups have condemned Israeli forces for frequently turning a blind eye to settler violence or even siding with them in clashes with Palestinians.
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