Settlers Attack West Bank Village

At least eight people have been injured in a rampage by Jewish settlers through an Arab village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, residents have said.

The settlers from Bat Ayin, where a Palestinian killed a young settler last week, attacked cars and homes in the village of Safa on Wednesday.

The Israeli account is that the settlers, who were armed, came under attack when they entered Safa to pray, Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the West Bank, said.

The Palestinians were injured when the Israeli troops fired tear gas and live ammunition to break up the disturbance, medics said.

Palestinian medical staff said they could not reach the village as a result of the continuing violence.

Axe Attack

Tensions in Bat Ayin and the surrounding Arab villages have been high since Thursday, when an unidentified Palestinian carrying an axe killed a 13-year-old boy.

Another boy, aged seven, was wounded in the attack, after which the Palestinian fled the scene. He has not been caught.

Bat Ayin, which lies near the Palestinian towns of Hebron and Bethlehem, is home to about 1,000 Israeli settlers.

Three people from the settlement were sentenced in 2002 by an Israeli court to prison terms ranging from 12 to 15 years for trying to set off a bomb near a Palestinian girls’ school in Arab East Jerusalem.

The seven-year-old boy injured in last Thursday’s axe attack is a son of one of the three jailed settlers.

Passover Closure

The incident in Safa comes amid a general closure of the West Bank by Israel, in the run up to the Jewish holiday of Passover (Pesach).

Israeli security forces will be on high alert over the holiday period, an Israeli army spokesperson said on Tuesday. The closure will run until April 18.

Palestinians are denied entry from the West Bank during public and religious holidays because Israel considers its Jewish population to be at a high risk of attacks by Palestinian armed groups.

But the closures will also affect the ability of Palestinians who have jobs in Israel to reach their place of work, upsetting their livelihoods.

The annual Passover closure, on top of permanent checkpoint restrictions, is seen by many Palestinians and international observers as collective punishment of the Palestinian population.

Jews in Israel and around the world celebrate Passover in memory of the exodus of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt in ancient times.
 
(Al Jazeera and Agencies)

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