Palestinians and Israeli soldier injured in West Bank settler attack

Several injured in flashpoint city of Hebron as pilgrims flock to ancient tomb

Israeli security forces hold back a Palestinian man amid altercations between Jewish settlers on their way to visit the tomb of Othniel ben Kenaz in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, on November 19, 2022. AFP
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Israeli settlers injured Palestinians and an Israeli soldier during an annual pilgrimage in the occupied West Bank on Saturday.

Palestinian news agency Wafa said several were injured by Israeli pilgrims, escorted by the army, in Hebron's Bab Al Zahwiya and Tel Rumeida neighbourhoods. The outlet said settlers assaulted shopkeepers and passers-by after throwing stones and bottles at homes in the Old City the night before.

Two Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces outside their homes, it added.

The Israeli army said a soldier was also injured by an Israeli civilian during the army escort to the pilgrim site, an ancient cave and burial site that attracts hundreds of visitors a year. It ordered a “rapid lawful response” to the attack, which army chief Aviv Kohani called “shameful and criminal.”

Hebron is often a flashpoint for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers, hundreds of whom live in the city centre under protection of the Israeli army.

Jewish Israeli settlers watch Palestinian demonstrators in the Kasbah area of the Old City of Hebron in the West Bank, in April 2022. EPA

Wafa said attacks have taken place in the city on an almost daily basis.

This year has been the deadliest year in the West Bank after years of relative calm. At least 130 Palestinians have been killed so far, the highest number since 2006, according to rights groups. There are fears violence could increase as Israel ushers in one of its most right-wing governments in recent years, with several key figures living in West Bank settlements themselves.

The sharp rise in violence followed a wave of Palestinian attacks in Israel earlier this year, killing 23 people in various towns and cities across the country.

Nablus and Jenin, both in the occupied West Bank, have also seen significant violence amid army crackdowns. Israel says the bulk of terrorist attacks have been planned and carried out by men from the area.

Nablus was under lockdown for several weeks in October as Israeli forces pursued members of the Lion's Den group.

Israel said the group was behind approximately 20 attacks on Israeli troops and civilians, including the killing of an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint. Locals decried the lockdown as collective punishment.

Updated: November 20, 2022, 10:16 AM