Palestinian stabbed to death in West Bank brawl with settlers

A Palestinian man died Tuesday after being stabbed in an apparent brawl with Israeli settlers in the central West Bank, the Palestinian Authority health ministry and an Israeli rights group said.

The incident occurred near the Palestinian village of Iskaka in the West Bank, adjacent to the large settlement of Ariel, south of Nablus.

The West Bank Division of Israeli Police said it had launched an investigation following a clash between Israelis and Palestinians. It said a Palestinian had been stabbed, although it was not clear by whom.

“The police force arrived at the scene from which an injured Palestinian was evacuated in serious condition, apparently due to a stab wound,” police said, citing doctors.

“At this stage the identity of the stabber is not clear,” the police stressed. No arrests were made immediately.

Palestinian health officials identified the deceased Palestinian as Ali Hassan Harb, 22.

Harb’s cousin Firas Naim told AFP that Israeli security forces were present when Harb was killed.

Naim said he and his family members, including Harb, went to their village land after hearing that settlers were setting up tents there.

Once there, Naim said, they were confronted by Israeli forces and settlement security guards, who fired shots into the air.

“After they fired into the air, the settlers attacked … We were just standing there, and a settler came and stabbed him with a knife here [on the side of the body] for no reason, ”said Naim, whose robes were stained with blood.

Yesh Din’s rights group said Harb was with his parents on private land near Ariel. “The settlers arrived on the spot and tried to set up a tent. Friction developed between the sides and the settlers gave way. Immediately thereafter, the soldiers arrived on the scene and later the settlers returned “, reads a note.

Yesh Din said that after the return of the settlers, violence broke out again between the sides, “during which a settler pulled out a knife and stabbed the young man to death.”

Local authorities said the Israeli settler group reported being attacked in the area by a large group of about 40 Palestinians with stones and sticks between settlements.

The Emergency Service of Rescuers Without Borders, an Israeli-based subsidiary of United Hatzalah, said that “rioters stole bags and equipment” from Israelis. He added that no Israelis were reported injured in the incident.

There has been an increase in settler violence in recent years and soldiers are sometimes seen waiting as they occur. Soldiers are legally allowed, in some cases even required, to intervene to prevent violent attacks, regardless of nationality. The military generally prefer the police to deal with the attacks and arrests of settlers, but the police are not as present in the West Bank.

In October, Defense Minister Benny Gantz released a statement urging the military to take “systematic, aggressive and uncompromising action” against settler violence directed against Palestinians, activists and security forces, which have also occasionally ended in the viewfinder. However, no apparent crackdown followed.

The AFP contributed to this report.

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