Left-wing Israeli Activists Attacked While Protecting Settler-targeted West Bank Village

02:00 Dec 4 2023 Al Farisiya and Israel's Rotem settlement (רותם)

Left-wing Israeli Activists Attacked While Protecting Settler-targeted West Bank Village Left-wing Israeli Activists Attacked While Protecting Settler-targeted West Bank Village
The activist Sasha Povolotsky after being attacked on Monday. Published by Haaretz

Gil and behind him Povolotsky, on Monday. Published by Haaretz

by Hagar Shezaf for Haaretz
Dec 4, 2023 7:56 pm IST

Unknown assailants attacked two Israeli left-wing activists on Monday in the Palestinian village of Al Farisiya, near the Israeli settlement of Rotem in the northeast West Bank.

One of the activists, Sasha Povolotsky, sustained a head wound and required medical evacuation with bruises to the face and ribs, and another activist was pepper-sprayed.

Medics reported that Povolotsky was taken to the Emek Medical Center in the northern city of Afula and said that they stitched up the injury to his head. The Israeli police are investigating the incident, but have not yet arrested any suspects.

The attack occured while the activists were sleeping in the homes of Palestinian residents of the village of Al Farisiya, near the settlement of Rotem in the northeast West Bank. Residents have been suffering repeated harassment and threats from settlers the past several months.

Povolotsky said that around 2 A.M., while sleeping alongside two other activists, they heard noises from a hill near the Palestinian families’ homes. “The activist who was with me called and said that some tractor came and began turning over rocks. Still sleepy, rubbing my eyes, I went there and saw a tractor driving from side to side in the dark, and alongside it some people I later identified as settler youths,” he recalled.

Povolotsky said that the youths' faces – around seven of them – were exposed, but they wore hoodies that made identifying them difficult. “They threw rocks at the families’ homes and even came towards the front doors. Gil, another activist, approached them, which scared them back. Then I saw one of the settlers spray his eyes with pepper at point-blank, under the glasses. He fell on the grounds shouting in pain, and the guy next to him kneed him,” he told.

At this point, Povolotsky says, he tried to shield Gil with his body. “They kept throwing rocks at us, and then the one who pepper-sprayed Gil began to kick me in the head, the back, and the ribs, and the blood really started flowing all over, in a gush,” he testified. He also said that when they called the paramedics and the police, the assailants fled. He added that he recognized one of the assailants from another attack that took place about a month ago, near the Asa’el farm outpost, where he says his nose was broken.

The IDF said that a report was received regarding activists being attacked by settlers, and said that an army force arrived on the scene after the end of the incident. The police said that “upon receipt of the report about the case, an investigation was opened in order to reach the truth.”

Since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, activists have been sleeping regularly at Al Farisiya due to threats and violence coming from settlers.

The settlers have been harassing the community and demanding they leave and have been entering their homes without permission. According to the activists, some community members have temporarily left the village due to the threats.

Several Palestinian communities have been suffering from settler threats under the cover of war. According to data from the B’tselem human rights group, since the start of the war, 16 Palestinian communities have fled their homes due to settler threats and violence.

Israeli settlers from Rotem and/or other nearby settlements suspected of attacking Sasha Povolotsky in al-Farisiya village 12/4/2023
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