Israeli settlers on Saturday morning attempted an attack on Palestinian farmers in village of Qusra south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, a local official said.
Dozens of settlers from the illegal Esh Kodesh outpost descended on farmers in their fields between the outpost and Qusra, said Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank.
He said the attackers intended to scare the farmers and push them to abandon their fields.
Dozens of local men from the village — members of voluntary local guard committees — confronted the settlers, Daghlas added.
The settlers and locals clashed and threw stones at one another until the settlers were forced to move back.
In June 2014, villagers from Qusra held more than 15 settlers captive after they raided the village and tried to uproot Palestinian olive trees. Shortly after that they were transferred to Israeli military forces via Palestinian liaison officials.
Since 1967, Israel has established over 150 settlements and some 100 outposts in the occupied West Bank, with a settler population of more than 500,000 across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
Outposts like Esh Kodesh are often established by Israeli settlers who set up tents or small mobile homes on private Palestinian land.
Some settlers act without approval to expand settlements or create new ones in the West Bank, building outposts that are illegal even by Israeli government standards.
In many cases, these settlement outposts are “legalized” by Israel, and in rare cases they are dismantled. Such outposts generally receive armed protection by Israeli forces.
Residents living throughout the Nablus district have witnessed a massive spread of outposts and settlements in the area in recent years.
In February, Israeli settlers set up five mobile homes near Palestinian land and close by the Esh Kodesh outpost.
Residents of the Jewish-only Esh-Kodesh outpost regularly harass and attack Palestinians from nearby villages, invading villages or targeting agricultural areas belonging to local farmers.
Many of the attacks are intended to make life difficult for locals in order to force them to leave and allow settlers to expand their settlements.
Settlers living in the Nablus region have become notorious for violent and extremist behavior against local Palestinians that is often carried out in the presence of Israeli military forces and rarely investigated by Israeli authorities.
(Ma’an – www.maannews.com)