Condemnation after videos show settlers burning Palestinian olive groves 28May12 May 28, 2012

Al Akhbar  -  27 May 2012

A leading Israeli rights group has condemned new footage showing extremist Jewish settlers, some wearing masks, setting fire to Palestinian olive groves as Israeli soldiers watch.

Dozens of Israelis from the Yitzhar settlement attacked Palestinians in the Urif area, throwing stones before burning wheat fields and olive groves that are crucial to the Palestinian economy.

Youths from the Palestinian village came to put out the fires and protect their land, but were attacked by the far-right settlers, with the Israeli army ignoring calls to stop the violence.

Settlers later fired live ammunition, injuring one Palestinian, while the army continued to ignore the attack.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem condemned the army for helping the settlers.

“All of these events took place in the presence of dozens of Israeli soldiers stationed in the area, who did not block the settlers on their way to ‘Urif, nor act to prevent the attack on the village,” a statement from the group said.

“The military’s intervention consisted largely in driving away Palestinian youth, but not the settlers, thus preventing the Palestinians from defending their property and putting out the fires.”

Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza are illegal under international law, and are regularly condemned by the United Nations and international other bodies.

Despite this Israel continues to encourage its citizens to develop settlements and protects them using its military might.


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