A suspect was arrested by Israeli police on Wednesday in connection to the stabbing and killing of a Palestinian man in the West Bank the previous day while the latter was defending his land.
Details of the investigation were put under a gag order, according to Israeli media.
“The police said that due to this order, they cannot comment on the Palestinians’ claims of a police presence at the scene” of the stabbing, the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported, suggesting that the police seek to obscure their role in the fatal incident.
The slain man was identified as Ali Hasan Harb. The Palestinian Authority health ministry said Harb was stabbed in the heart.
Israeli settlers arrived near the Palestinian village of Iskaka in the central occupied West Bank on Tuesday to establish a settlement outpost near Ariel, a major Jewish-only colony.
Outposts are settlements that are not officially authorized by Israel but which receive support and assistance as part of the state’s overall aim to push Palestinians off of their land so they may be replaced by Jewish settlers.
All of Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights are illegal under international law, which prohibits an occupying power like Israel from transferring its civilian population into the territory it occupies.
A local shepherd alerted the Harb family that there were settlers setting up a structure on their land, Firas Harb, the slain man’s cousin, told media.Firas Harb said that the settlers fled the moment the family arrived and stood far away. The Israeli military and Border Police showed up soon after.
“They attacked us, they started firing bullets in the air,” he added.
“A bit later while we were standing, a settler stabbed my cousin with a knife,” he said. “My cousin fell to the ground.”
The Israeli military prevented Palestinians from reaching Ali Harb to render aid.
“He kept bleeding on the ground as the military pointed their weapons at us and fired in the air,” according to Firas Harb.
After around an hour, they were able to move Ali Harb’s body.
“We carried him for a distance of approximately two kilometers, from the top of the mountain to the road. We carried him while he bled until we got to the ambulance,” Firas Harb added.
Mourners laid Ali Harb to rest on Wednesday:No Israelis were reported injured in the incident, an Israeli emergency service said.
Tor Wennesland, the UN secretary-general’s Middle East envoy, condemned the killing, adding that “perpetrators of violence must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice.”Only rarely are Israeli settlers held accountable for attacking Palestinians.
Between 2005 and 2019, 91 percent of investigations into settler violence against Palestinians did not result in charges, according to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.
Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group based in the West Bank, has described Israel’s failure to take action against settler violence as “institutionalized impunity.”
The intensity and severity of settler attacks have frequently “resulted in the indirect forcible transfer of Palestinians from their land, often in order to make way for the construction of settlements,” according to Al-Haq.