Israeli settlers attack 10-year-old child in Hebron, Palestinians say

The boy was admitted to hospital and suffered bruising and lacerations in the assault

In this Wednesday, March 6, 2019 photo, a Jewish man visits the Israeli controlled part of the West Bank city of Hebron, in the West Bank. The Falic family of Florida, owners of the ubiquitous chain of Duty Free Americas shops, funds a generous and sometimes controversial philanthropic empire in Israel that runs through the corridors of power and stretches deep into the occupied West Bank. An Associated Press investigation shows that the family has donated at least $5.6 million to settler groups in the West Bank and east Jerusalem over the past decade, funding synagogues, schools and social services, along with causes considered extreme even in Israel.  (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian boy on Saturday in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, the official Palestinian news agency reported.

The child, aged 10, was taken to hospital, where he received treatment for bruising and lacerations.

Muntaser Abu Rmeleh was walking in the city’s Sahla street, in Hebron’s Old City, when a group of settlers attacked him, Wafa news agency said.

His father said Israeli soldiers had watched on as the settlers assaulted the child, the agency said.

It also said that extremist settlers have become emboldened in the city after a team of international observers were forced to leave the city when Israel did not renew their mission.

“Harassment of Palestinians in that area is a daily occurrence, particularly following the departure of the international monitoring team, the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, earlier this month after Israel refused to extend the team’s mandate,” Wafa said.

Israel complained that a member of the observation mission had slapped a young settler child.

Images shared by Palestinian media on social media on Saturday showed the Palestinian boy lying on a hospital bed, holding his face.

About 800 Israeli settlers live in Hebron, considering it to be one of the holiest cities in Judaism. They are protected by thousands of Israeli soldiers, part of a military structure that has imposed a network of restrictions across the city.

The imposition of several checkpoints has led to the closure of Palestinian shops, caused many Palestinians to move away from the city and restricted movement for Palestinian residents, numbering about 200,000, who still live there.

Palestinians in Hebron complain that attacks against them by settlers under the protection of the Israeli military take place with the aim of forcing them out of the city.

They also accuse the settlers of seizing properties and land in areas the Israeli military has designated closed military zones.

They say the military allows them to do so regardless of restrictions imposed on Palestinians for security reasons.

A number of violent assaults have happened in the city in recent years. Settlers have attacked Palestinians, Israeli soldiers have shot Palestinians and Palestinians have carried out stabbings and vehicle attacks against Israeli soldiers.

The Old City of Hebron is revered by both Muslims and Jews. It includes Ibrahimi Mosque, which Jews refer to as the Cave of the Patriarchs. It was the site of one of the deadliest massacres of Palestinians when an American-Israeli settler entered the mosque and shot dead 29 Palestinians, one aged 12, in 1994.

Meanwhile, a suspected Palestinian car-ramming attack in the occupied West Bank has wounded five Israeli soldiers and the driver has been arrested, the Israeli army said on Sunday.

The troops were stationed on a roadside near the Palestinian town of Hizma as part of “operational activity” on Saturday night when the driver of a car rammed his vehicle into them, the army said.

Three soldiers were moderately injured and two slightly hurt in the incident near the town, which is close to a checkpoint dividing the West Bank from Jerusalem, it said in a statement.

Soldiers later arrested the driver and his father at a checkpoint, it added.

It said an initial inquiry “suggests that the incident was a car-ramming attack” and not an accident.

Israeli army raids in the occupied West Bank regularly spark tensions with Palestinian residents.

Palestinians have carried out sporadic car-ramming, knife and gun attacks against Israeli soldiers in the territory, which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.