(UPDATE) Settlers Torch Agricultural Land amid Intensified Israeli Army Presence near Nablus

NABLUS, September 9, 2015 (WAFA) – Jewish settlers Wednesday set fire to  large swaths of  Palestinian-owned  agricultural land near the village of Burin, to the south of Nablus in the West Bank, amid an intensified Israeli military and police presence at the nearby Nablus-Ramallah road, according to local sources.

Witnesses informed WAFA that a number of Israeli settlers from the nearby Jewish settlement ofYitzhar, built illegally on the village’s land, broke into the area in the early morning hours and set fire to agricultural land mostly planted with olive trees.

Meanwhile, Israeli army and police forces stepped up their presence along the road that connects between Huwwara checkpoint, just south of Nablus, and Za’tara (Tappuah junction) checkpoint, a few kilometers to the south. According to security sources, the intensified military presence came after a female Israeli settler came under fire while she was driving at the road.

The Israeli army also closed the roads leading to the nearby villages of Beita and Einabus.

There was no evidence of correlation between both incidents despite the fact that both incidents occurred almost in the same area, just outside the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar.

Yitzhar is infamous for housing the most extremist settler community in the West Bank; settlers there regularly attack vulnerable Palestinian communities as well as clash with members of the Israeli security forces. The settlement is at the forefront of the settler movement’s so called ‘price tag’ policy which calls for attacks against Palestinians in retaliation for actions of the Israeli government against West Bank settlements.

In May 2014, the Israeli security agency Shin Bet said the price-tag hate crimes were mainly attributable to about 100 extremist youths, mostly from Yitzhar, acting on ideas associated with rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg at the community’s Od Yosef Chai yeshiva.

Violence by extremist Jewish settlers is commonplace. On July 31, a group of Jewish fanatics killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh and seriously injured his entire family, during a predawn arson attack which targeted two homes in the village of Duma, south of Nablus. The baby’s father, Sa’ad Dawabsheh, died of his wounds at an Israeli hospital about a week later, while his mother, Riham, 27, died of her wounds over a month after the incident.

According to OCHA Protection of civilians Weekly report covering the period between 18 and 24 of august 2015, “Five Israeli settler attacks resulting in injury to Palestinians or property damage were recorded, including the stoning and injury of a six-year-old girl and vandalism to a souvenir shop, both near Al Ibrahimi Mosque in the Israeli-controlled H2 area of Hebron city.”

Al-Haq human right organization stated that, “Attacks by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank against members of the Palestinian population and their property are an extensive, long-term, and worsening phenomenon.”

Settlements are illegal under international law as they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory.