Published by Mediterranea Saving Humans, Ufficio Stampa | 04 / Jul / 2024

West Bank: settlers' assault on Palestinian village, Italian activist severely beaten

A full-scale assault by Israeli settlers took place last night on the village of Khallet Athaba, in the Palestinian territories in the West Bank's Massafer Yatta region.

Around midnight local time, Israeli settlers from nearby settlements set fire to the village's fields and plantations, moving with pickup trucks and armored vehicles around the village and setting fires in several points. Once the fire broke out, a group of about 50 settlers entered the village on foot with clubs and sticks, attacking anyone in their path. It was at this juncture that one of our activists was also attacked, pushed to the ground and savagely beaten by the settlers. His cell phone with which he was documenting the settlers' actions was taken away and destroyed, and the settlers attempted to hit him with a hoe to the head, fortunately hitting him only lightly and causing an injury to his cheekbone. Only many minutes after the beating began did he manage to escape into the fields, escaping the attackers and finding refuge only much later in a Palestinian shepherd's house.

In the past few weeks, Mediterranea Saving Humans has had an active presence in the Massafer Yatta region, where our activists have joined those of Operazione Colomba in supporting the local civilian population continually harassed by settler aggressions. In these territories, Italian activists accompany herders to pasture and farmers to the fields, constantly trying to document the settlers' violent and intimidating actions. The other night our activists, together with those from Operazione Colomba, had gone to Khallet Athaba and minutes after the fires developed in the fields around the village, they tried to put them out together with Palestinian civilians. Operation prevented by the violence of the premeditated aggression of the settlers.

Our activist was rescued around dawn by the Palestinian population and was transported to Yatta Hospital for his bruises and injuries. A very serious episode, which due to the action of the occupation forces, caused us to completely lose contact with our activist for several hours. As of this night we informed and activated the Italian diplomatic representation in Jerusalem.

We demand that the identity of the assailants who set fire to camps and beat up people "armed" only with cameras will be ascertained, and that they will be legally prosecuted and sanctioned.

It is precisely in the region of Massafer Yatta that the Palestinian nonviolent movement, which has been in existence for 25 years, is developing and strengthening, fighting daily to defend its villages from Israeli occupation. This is an innovative path in the complex political scenario in the West Bank, which not surprisingly is undergoing a very heavy repression by Israeli settlers and military forces. What happened tonight is unfortunately a scenario that is constantly repeated in the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, where settlers act undisturbed as a real militia, armed and equipped with armored vehicles, making themselves protagonists of violence of all kinds. The Israeli army is increasingly showing its connivance with the settlers; even tonight during the assault on the village, armored army vehicles were present, which not only failed to intervene to prevent the violence and fires, but ensured that the settlers acted undisturbed. While the main attentions are rightly focused on the ongoing massacre in Gaza, in the West Bank the occupation policy goes on with the methods we saw tonight, with the go-ahead from the Netanyahu government and military forces. It is not tolerable that impunity can be granted in the face of such events.

We will continue to be active in the Massafer Yatta region documenting what is happening every day alongside the Palestinian nonviolent movement.

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