Palestine: Wounded Bodies, Wounded Trees

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On the morning of 21 March an Israeli settler attacked and stabbed a Palestinian father of two from the village of Tuba in the South Hebron Hills.

Mahmoud Ibrahim Ali Awad, 32, was traveling by donkey from his home in Tuba to a medical appointment in the city of Yatta when a masked settler ran out of the Havat Ma’on settlement outpost and attacked him with a knife.  A resident of the neighboring village of at-Tuwani witnessed the assault, quickly alerted villagers and internationals, then interrupted the attack.  Awad was hospitalized with stab wounds to his chest and right arm.

Witnesses recognized the assailant as one of the settlers who had rioted near at-Tuwani two days earlier when villagers, Israeli peace activists and internationals were planting twenty-five olive trees to replace ones that had been hacked and destroyed a few weeks before.  The settlers, several of whom were masked, shoved and kicked the villagers, their sheep, and their supporters.

Israeli soldiers declared the area a closed military zone and discharged two percussion grenades in an attempt to force villagers to leave the area.  Police arrested two Palestinian men, but did not arrest or detain any of the settlers.

One elderly man, Fadil Ahmed Raba’i, collapsed from respiratory distress and lost consciousness after soldiers pushed him to the ground and forcibly restrained him.  

Palestinians and internationals working in the West Bank have expressed concern over a recent rise in settler violence.  According to the Israeli legal rights group Yesh-Din, Israeli settlers are rarely charged with crimes against Palestinians, and most investigations of Palestinian complaints against settlers (91%) are closed without an indictment.

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