Footage shows suspects identified by residents as Israeli fleeing West Bank village of Jalud as 65-year-old trees caught on fire
Yotam Berger | Jun. 12, 2019

About ten masked individuals were documented last week hurling rocks at a Palestinian school, moments before smoke was seen billowing from a nearby Palestinian grove that caught fire.

Security footage shows the suspects, who according to Jalud residents are Israeli settlers, fleeing the scene in the West Bank village of Jalud.

The incident took place on the same day Israel’s firefighting services reported that Palestinians set ablaze settler-owned fields in the area. Firefighters said the perpetrators started a fire between Jalud, the settlement of Shvut Rachel and the Achiya outpost, but didn’t report on the blaze spreading to the Palestinian grove.

>> Read more: Video shows settlers throwing stones at Palestinian home in West Bank

The footage also shows that the suspects approached the school in Jalud at around 10:30 A.M., arriving from the area of the fields and groves that separate the Palestinian village from the adjacent settlements. They began hurling rocks at the school, and then entered it. A Palestinian boy who was at the scene can be seen fleeing.

Later in the video, they can be seen approaching a nearby olive grove and then fleeing. Seconds after the suspects fled, smoke started rising in the area. Around 11:30 A.M., the firefighting services announced that big fires had started in the area and were likely caused by arson.

The blazes destroyed hundreds of olive trees in the grove of the Fauzi family. “They were 65-year-old trees,” grove owner Mahmoud Fauzi said, adding that altogether he has 1,500 trees and a third of them had caught fire.

He said that he filed a complaint with the Palestinian District Coordination and Liaison office, but received no response nor the police launched an investigation into the incident. Fauzi said that the place had already been set ablaze before.

Eyewitnesses from the village claim that the masked attackers at the school were Israeli. Attorney Kamar Mishraki-Asad, who works for a human rights organization and represents Palestinian land owners, said there is “unequivocal evidence that the criminal act of setting ablaze a 65-year-old grove was done by a group of settlers.”

This incident adds on to “dozens of nationalistic terror acts perpetuated against Palestinians,” Mishraki-Asad added, arguing the Israeli authorities aren’t doing enough to stop these attacks.

Footage from later that day shows more masked individuals hurling rocks at a Palestinian vehicle in the West Bank village of Kufr Yasuf.

A probe by left-wing NGO Yesh Din indicates that the perpetrators smashed the car’s windows while its owners were at home. The vandals also broke doors and tried to set a fire, the probe showed.

Residents of nearby Jewish settlements said that the fires that were set earlier that morning caused them heavy damages. According to the firefighting services, fires were sparked in several locations, so it may be both Israelis and Palestinians started fires simultaneously. Footage obtained by settlers shows several people setting a fire near Achiya, which caused damage to a field and a water pipe.