NABLUS (Ma’an) — A group of Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian family and damaged their car while they were picking olives on their private land south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Monday, amid the onset of olive harvest season, when Palestinians farmers are at a heightened risk of being the target of settler attacks.
A local Palestinian official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank told Ma’an that a number of settlers from the illegal Eli settlement attacked Sahir Mousa and his family while they were picking olives on their land in the outskirts of the village of Qaryut, which is just a few kilometers away from the settlement.
“They arrived carrying hatchets and other sharp tools and forced the family to return home and completely damaged their car,” Ghassan Daghlas said.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into reports of the incident.
According to Daghlas, the attack was the first of its kind during olive harvest season this year. However on Oct. 4, a group of Israeli settlers’ children escorted by Israeli forces harassed a Palestinian family harvesting olives in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Monday.
Meanwhile, the area around the Qaryut and other villages south of Nablus has been particularly vulnerable to an increase in land confiscation by the Israeli government, and is also a frequent site of settler violence.
The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and violent acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents.
The majority of settler attacks committed against Palestinians are met with impunity, with Israelis rarely facing consequences for such attacks.
Only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli settler attacks result in a conviction, while 95.6 percent of investigations of damage to olive trees are closed due to failures of Israeli police, according to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.
Yesh Din, along with Israeli rights group B’Tselem, have previously condemned Israeli authorities for failing to protect Palestinians from settlers violence or investigate attacks, particularly during olive harvest season, when incidents of attacks on harvesters and their olive groves have been a near daily occurrence in past years.
More than 500,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansionprovoking condemnation from the international community.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 221 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2015.