Settlers Attack, Injure Palestinians, Israeli Peace Activists in W. Bank

Dozens of settlers attacked Palestinians and ant-occupation Israeli activists near the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin on Friday, November 12, eyewitnesses reported. At least three Israelis were injured during the attack, which came as the annual olive harvest draws to a close. According to Israeli activists, they were present on the scene to accompany the Palestinian farmers from the local village of Surif during the harvest. Following the attack, the occupation army issued a decree declaring the area a closed military zone for a month.

Rabbi Arik Ascherman after the attack by Israeli settlers near the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin on Friday, November 12, 2021 (Photo: Shai Kendler)

The annual olive harvest regularly witnesses heightened tension and attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians. According to the rights group Yesh Din, nine violent assaults by Israelis against Palestinians seeking to harvest olives have taken place since early October of this year.

Rabbi Arik Ascherman was among those wounded during the alleged attack, being injured in the face. Ascherman, a well-known peace activist, has been attacked several times during the course of his solidarity work with Palestinians in the West Bank. In 2015, a 17-year-old Jewish extremist attempted to stab him, although Ascherman escaped unscathed. Ascherman was also beaten by an Israeli settler with a wooden bat this past April, as he was accompanying Palestinian shepherds near the town of Deir Jarir in the central West Bank.

Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel said in a statement issued Friday that “the state and its law enforcement agencies are failing time and again to ensure the safety of farmers and activists in the harvest; therefore, the blood spilled today is also on their hands.” The statement went on to say: “Jewish terrorists are trying to forcibly create a reality of Jewish supremacy in the territories and don’t hesitate to raise their hands against farmers, activists or even Israeli military officers.” In his statement the director of Rabbis for Human Rights, Avi Dabush, warned: “Those who repeatedly ignore these actions will soon find themselves with armed Jewish terrorist militias which have cost lives in the past. It’s time for decision-makers to stop with the gentle rhetoric and take a firm hand against the assailants. Until then, any spilt blood will be on their hands as well.”

On Wednesday, November 10, two Palestinians were wounded by gunfire and five were injured by stones in clashes in the South Hebron Hills following the establishment of an illegal outpost in the area. Israeli peace activists at the scene said settlers opened first at the Palestinians; Israeli soldiers were in the area intermittently but were not present during the shooting. Windows of three Palestinian cars were also shattered during the incident.