Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a statement on Tuesday, where he said a group of up to 30 Israelis – some of them armed – attacked Palestinian farmers in their fields and then descended on the village where they used live ammunition to shoot at the villagers and their houses.
Six Palestinians were shot and wounded with three of them in a serious condition. It remains unclear whether any settlers were also injured.
Colville noted that Israeli security forces were stationed near the village and were immediately alerted to the attack, but witnesses said that it took around two hours for them to intervene.
“When Israeli security forces did finally intervene, the main focus of their action appears to have been to disperse the Palestinian villagers using teargas,” the statement read.
Three more Palestinians were injured by live ammunition after Israeli security forces intervened. However, it was not clear whether they were shot by settlers or soldiers.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the average number of violent incidents instigated by settlers every month increased by 57 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, and by 175 percent compared to 2016.
“Israel, as the occupying power, is obliged under international humanitarian law to protect the Palestinian population from such attacks. Those responsible for settler violence must be brought to account,” said Colville.
Little to no accountability
Issa Amro, an activist with the Working for Peace and Justice organisation from Hebron, told Al Jazeera that settlers who commit violent attacks are not held to account.
“The settlers are getting more and more violent. I think soon they will commit massacres against the Palestinians.”
According to Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din, only three percent of investigations regarding complaints filed by Palestinians hurt by Israeli citizens since 2005 resulted in convictions.
Similarly, regarding alleged offences by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians, Yesh Din found that in 2016, Israel’s Legal Service for Operational Matters received 302 complaints.
However, by March 2017, only five investigations opened in 2016 had led to indictments against soldiers for causing harm to Palestinians.