IDF accused of inciting, mistreating Palestinian protesters as West Bank violence rages on (VIDEO)
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society has reported that 18 protesters were injured by rubber bullets, and four more by pepper spray, after a group of youths attacked a convoy of Israeli military vehicles outside Ramallah, the seat of government of the Palestinian Authority. The Times of Israel reported that at least one Palestinian youth was taken to a hospital in Jerusalem in critical condition.
“Today near Beit El, 350 Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails, set tires on fire and shot fireworks at IDF soldiers. In response, the IDF fired at the main agitators,” said a statement from the Israel Defense Forces, given to the Times of Israel.
Palestinian media was outraged by footage shot by several cameras, including those belonging to RT, which showed Israeli soldiers continuing to beat and kick several protesters long after they had been restrained.
IDF has said it would investigate the footage.
In another episode, several apparent plainclothes Israeli agents stood alongside Palestinians as they launched slingshots, only to suddenly unsheathe their firearms, and begin arresting those in the crowd around them.
The Red Crescent reported that 30 more people were injured in clashes near Jericho, and two young Palestinians suffered wounds from live ammo near Bethlehem, according to Haaretz, which said it was not clear if the youths had been targeted by official forces or Jewish settlers.
Despite the continued bloodshed, the Red Crescent said today’s injury toll was lower than Tuesday’s, which saw nearly 100 Palestinians hospitalized.
At least three separate stabbings by Palestinians were also recorded on Wednesday. A Palestinian man stabbed an IDF soldier near the town of Kiryat Gal and took possession of his rifle, but was subsequently shot. A Jewish man suffered light injuries after being stabbed by a Palestinian woman in Jerusalem’s Old Town, with the assailant suffering serious injuries. A 25-year-old Palestinian also attacked an Israeli man as soon as he got off a bus outside a shopping center in the Israeli city of Petah Tikva on Wednesday night, but was quickly overpowered.
Outside Jerusalem, police opened fire on a Palestinian car when it appeared the driver was about to deliberately run them over, and a Jewish woman was set upon by a mob of angry Palestinians near the settlement of Tekoa, which began smashing the windows of her vehicle and beating her.
“It was a lynching. I thought I was going to die and begged for my life,” the victim, who managed to drive off, told the LA Times.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has cancelled a trip to Germany scheduled for Thursday in a bid to regain control over the crisis, which has widely been labelled a new intifada, or large-scale rebellion.
“We are still in the midst of a wave of terror. We are taking strong action against terrorists, rioters and inciters,” said Netanyahu in a statement.
More than 300 people have been arrested by Israeli security forces in the past month for planning or taking part in protest activities, but this has not stemmed the rising death toll. At least four Israelis and four Palestinians have been killed in violent incidents over the past week.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who appeared to condone the violence in statements earlier this week and reportedly instructed Palestinian security forces to stop restraining protesters, made placatory statements on Wednesday.
“I support a popular, nonviolent struggle and oppose all violence and use of weapons. I’ve made clear a number of times that I don’t want to return to the cycle of violence,” Abbas, who may soon retire from his position, told Haaretz.