Peace Activists Beaten by Settlers While Helping Palestinians Harvest Olives

Two Israeli volunteers, including a 70-year-old human rights activist, were injured in an attack by settlers carrying stones and clubs in the occupied Palestinian territories. Several people were wounded during a violent clash in the southern West Bank on Wednesday, as settlers fought with Palestinians and Israeli activists during the annual olive harvest.

Settlers are seen assaulting the 70-year-hold Israeli peace activist at the West Bank town of Kisan, October 18, 2022 (Photo: WAFA)

Images published by the Palestinian news agency WAFA showed several masked Israeli settlers hurling stones near the village of Kisan, south of Bethlehem. One picture showed the settlers assaulting an elderly woman, Hagar Gefen, an Israeli volunteer. According to WAFA, citing the landowner, a volunteer was stabbed in the back and her leg fractured during the assault.

WAFA also reported that some 300 olive saplings were uprooted by the settlers in the area.

MK Aida Touma-Silman (Hadash) said of the settlers: “These are human savages who attacked two women peace activists in their 70s.” “This horrific attack is the direct result of the criminal silence” by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, Touma-Silman charged.

Peace Now settlement watchdog said two Israeli volunteers were hurt, one seriously. “This attack is the culmination of two weeks in which ‘phalanges’ of setters are committing riots against the Palestinians in the presence of the IDF,” Peace Now said in a tweet, using a phrase denoting armed militia groups. “Everything is filmed, everything in broad daylight. The entire responsibility rests with the defense minister,” the group added.

The police have yet to ask for Gefen’s testimony of the events according to her family but in answer to a question, they claim her medical condition seemed to grave and that an interview will be conducted at a later date. “Rioters attacked my sister. They kicked her and ripped her bag out of her hands,” her brother Elisha said. “They stole all her personal documents, phone, and glasses from her bag,” he said. “I cannot understand how the police have still not come to interview her. This was not the first time she had encountered such violence.”

Sarah Gefen, Hagar’s sister-in-law shared a post on her Facebook page describing what had happened.  To get up in the morning and see my sister-in-law laying on the floor, curled up in fear and pain, and above her stand restless young men beating her with clubs,” she wrote.

“How can a 70-year-old woman be a threat to young people who can be her grandchildren? How can there be young people among us who get up in the morning and their mission is to beat up elderly people? If that’s what they do to Jews, then what do they do to Arabs?” Gefen’s sister-in-law asked in her post.

On the predawn hours of Thursday, a group of young settlers pepper-sprayed occupation soldiers in the West Bank town of Huwara and were able to flee the scene. None of the rioters was arrested at the scene and no one was shot. Police have since taken three suspects into custody. Today, (Friday), Haaretz, revealed that more than 100 attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians have been documented in different areas of the West Bank in the last ten days.

The newspaper stated that in the last ten days, settlers have attacked Palestinians more than 100 times, and that most of these attacks took place in the northern West Bank, especially in the town of Huwara. The newspaper denied claims by the Israeli army that those who carry out attacks against the Palestinians are a minority, stating that this is not true because there are large numbers of settlers who take part in the attacks against Palestinians.

In this regard, WAFA correspondent reported that the Israeli occupation army did not arrest or investigate settlers who attack on a daily basis the Palestinian citizens and their property, but rather guards the settlers and provides them with protection.