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Escalating settler violence in Hebron: Settlers attack internationals with pepper spray

On Saturday settlers on two occasions attacked internationals with stones and pepper spray outside the Kiryat Arba in Hebron. The last days, following the arrival of a new Israeli troops with a decidedly more brutal and oppressive attitude, several incidents of harassment against Palestinians has taken place in Tel Rumedia and through out the city

After the arrival on Thursday of a new unit of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) the overall situation in Hebron has worsened considerably, according to both international activists and observers. Inside Tel Rumeida, the number of detentions of Palestinians have increased dramatically and seemingly random harassment and restrictions are abundant, making every day life for Palestinians even more difficult than usual. On Sunday the military arrested several persons from a Palestinian family for working their lands, and soldiers repeatedly occupied houses, apparently to be used as sniper and look out posts.

As two internationals on Saturday tried to perform a solidarity visit to a Palestinian family (lately the target of several attacks from settlers) living close to the Kiriyat Arba settlement they were attacked by a group of 5-10 young settlers and forced to leave the area. Israeli military, arriving at the scene made little to stop the harassment, despite that stones were thrown at the internationals, resulting in one slight injury.

In the afternoon settlers attacked a small group of Palestinians walking from their homes in the vicinity of the settlement. As internationals attempted to intervene they were once more attacked by settlers, this time also using pepper spray and destroying camera equipment. Like before, Israeli soldiers witnessing the events made little to stop the harassment. Abuse from settlers have escalated lately, in connection to the establishment of a small encampment in Palestinian lands outside the Kiriyat Arba, from where attacks on by-passers have been carried out. Despite numerous request from the TIPH and others to remove the settlers, the military has been reluctant to take action against the settlers.