Palestinian child hospitalised in settler attack on Hebron
Five Palestinians including a young child were injured on Tuesday after an "unprecedented" attack by Israeli settlers who stormed the Al-Mufaqarah community in the occupied West Bank's southern Hebron hills.
Dozens of Israelí settlers armed with rocks, sticks, and daggers poured into the community of 170 residents at midday, local sources said.
The injured child, a four-year-old boy, is in a critical condition after suffering a fractured skull, local sources told The New Arab. He was being treated for his injuries at the Israeli Soroka hospital.
Qassem Mahamdah, a local resident of Al-Mufaqarah, told The New Arab that "a group of settlers attacked one of the shepherds, stabbing and killing five sheep".
"While our attention was focused on the shepherd being attacked, two groups of around 40 settlers each attacked the houses in the community from all sides, breaking windows and throwing rocks into the houses, turning over cars, and smashing solar energy panels, our only source of power," Mahamdah said.
"Fortunately, most of the women were able to leave in time with the children."
Al-Mufaqarah is part of a conglomeration of Palestinian communities in the Southern Hebron Hills, called Masafer Yatta, of nearly 1,000 inhabitants. The area was declared a military zone by the Israelí army in the 1980s.
In the following years, Israelí forces forcibly expelled hundreds of Palestinians from their lands in Masafer Yatta, forcing the rest to live under strict restrictions amid the constant threat of expulsion.
"Residents live under the threat of Israeli demolition if they build anything. We can't have any infrastructure, which is why we depend on solar panels for energy," Nidal Younes, the mayor of Masafer Yatta, told The New Arab.
"The settlers destroyed 18 solar panels in Al-Mufaqarah, practically leaving the community without energy," Younes said.
"The Israeli army doesn't provide any protection to local residents. It only protects settlers, even when they are the ones attacking."
Described the Israeli army intervention during the settlers’ raid, Mahamdah said: "The army arrived and began to separate us from the settlers, but without stopping them from doing what they were doing.
"They tear-gassed us, the men, pushed us towards the mosque and kept us surrounded there, preventing us from defending our homes and families."
Although Palestinians in the area suffer "daily attacks from settlers", Younes said Tuesday's attack was on an unprecedented scale.
"This is the first time we face a settler attack as organised and with as large numbers as yesterday," he said.
Mahmdah told The New Arab: "We in the Al-Mufaqara community spend more nights awake than asleep, watching for the next settler attack. Even my four-year-old daughter keeps asking me who those people are and why they do this to us."
Al-Mufaqarah's residents presented a complaint to the Israeli police, the de-facto authority in the area, but with little hope of a successful outcome.
"We have filed hundreds of complaints to the Israeli police against Israeli settlers attacks," Younes said. "We never even got to the court. No investigation was ever opened. Nothing ever happened at all."