Joint militias: How settlers and soldiers teamed up to kill four Palestinians

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A settler, armed with an automatic rifle, aims and opens fire at Palestinian villagers, Urif, May 14, 20201. (photo: Mazen Shehadeh)
A Local Call investigation reveals how on a single day in May, Israeli settlers and soldiers cooperated in attacks that left four Palestinians dead. The unprecedented spate of joint assaults has inaugurated a new era of terror.

By Yuval Abraham | +972 Magazine | July 15, 2021

“While the settlers did all of that, the soldiers covered for them by gunfire,”
— Mazen Shehadeh, head of the village council

Nidal Safadi was a quiet man, his neighbors said. He lived in Urif, a Palestinian village of several thousand people in the West Bank. Just 25, Safadi had three children with his wife and a fourth, a girl, on the way.

Urif is not always quiet. With the Palestinian city of Nablus less than 10 miles away, the occupying Israeli military established a base on a nearby hilltop in 1983. A year later, it was turned over to civilian purposes: part of Israel’s illegal settlement program in the Palestinian territories. Since 2000, the settlement, called Yitzhar, has been home to a yeshiva known for its hard-line Jewish nationalist views; the settlement has become known for its extremism. The so-called outpost settlements it has spurred — illegal even by Israeli law, but nonetheless defended by the Israel Defense Forces — have gradually encroached on villages like Urif. Over the past 10 years, settler aggressions have given rise to violent recriminations between the Israelis and Palestinians living nearby.

On May 14, though, Urif was calm — unlike much of the West Bank. In dozens of places around the territory, Palestinians protested against recent Israeli provocations: police storming Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and heavy bombardment, in response to Hamas rocket fire, of the Gaza Strip.

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