The head of a Jewish human rights organization was attacked Friday, October 23, by a masked settler wielding a knife and stone near a settlement in the occupied West Bank. The incident, which was caught on video, was labeled by the police as an “altercation between left and right wing activists.” The extreme-right assailant was seen accosting Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who heads Rabbis for Human Rights, and threatening him with a knife during a Palestinian olive harvest near the settlement of Itamar.
According to Rabbi Ascherman, the incident occurred when he and a Palestinian returned from the harvest and saw a Jewish settler attempting to steal olives from the orchard while another was allegedly setting some of the trees on fire. Ascherman said he moved towards the blaze, approaching the settler. In the video, which begins at this point, Ascherman is attacked by the masked man, who beats him and throws a rock at him, before pulling out the knife. Ascherman is seen attempting to defend himself and confronting another man at the scene before the masked attacker hits him again, swinging his knife at the rabbi before fleeing the scene.
The police described the incident as “friction between left wing and right wing activists during the [Palestinian] olive harvest.” The police said they view such incidents with the utmost severity and have “zero tolerance” toward any lawbreakers. But last year the Palestinian Authority documented more than 1,000 incidents of settler attacks against Palestinians, a majority taking place in villages in close proximity to Israeli settlements and outposts. The Israeli human rights group Yesh Din found that over the past ten years, Israel indicted fewer than 1.9% of settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.