Settlers injure five people in attack on olive-pickers
By Arnon Regular, Ha'aretz Correspondent, Ha'aretz Service and Agencies
Five people were injured Sunday, when settlers from Itamar attacked peace activists and Palestinian olive-pickers from the nearby village of Yinon.
In what appeared to be a response to the suicide bombing in Ariel, a group of armed settlers left the settlement of Itamar and headed toward an olive grove, where local residents, aided by peace activists from Israel and the United States, were harvesting the crop of olives.
The settlers, numbering between five and seven, pelted the olive-pickers and activists with stoned, and beat them using their guns. The injured were taken to a private clinic in the nearby village of Akrava.
A Palestinian couple and their two children and four activists were treated in hospital for injuries including deep cuts and bruises, Yanoun Mayor Abdel Atif Isbeih said.
A statement issued by the International Solidarity Movement peace group said James Deleplain, a 74-year-old American, had a possible broken rib and Mary Hughes-Thompson, 68, a dual American-British citizen, may have had both arms broken.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman, executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, said the settlers had "exploited" the Ariel blast as a pretext to resume violence to ruin Yanoun's farmers financially and drive them out.
Security forces did not arrive on the scene to investigate.
On Friday, a settler from the settlement of Eli fired shots over the heads of Palestinian olive pickers and peace activists, on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Issawiya.
The settler, who was being questioned by police over the incident, said that he fired the shots after seeing a Palestinian man, accompanied by a left-wing activist who was helping to pick the village's crop of olives, approach the perimeter fence around Eli.
The activists and the settlers have both filed complaints against each other, but a preliminary police investigation suggests that the olive pickers were within the boundaries of the grove, in an area where picking is permitted.
Last week, dozens of settlers attacked West Bank villagers and prevented them from picking their olives by firing guns in the air and toward the Palestinians and dozens of peace activists who had thronged to support them