Israeli settlers attack US consulate convoy in the West Bank (Updated)

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Update below

On Friday, American security personnel accompanying staff from the United States Consulate in Jerusalem drew their weapons on violent Israeli settlers who attacked a two vehicle U.S. convoy outside the Palestinian town of Turmusaya in the West Bank. Consulate staff were investigating an incident which took place on private Palestinian land on the first night of 2015 when six thousand recently planted olive saplings were uprooted, and dozens of old olive trees were destroyed by violent Jewish settlers from an illegal outpost, Adei Ad, near Turmusaya.

Officials from Turmusaya notified the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem and requested an investigation because some of the owners of the land are Palestinian-Americans. When the U.S. delegation arrived in the area to investigate settlers started hurling stones at the convoy.

Many of the olive saplings recently uprooted were ceremoniously planted beginning on December 10th, Human Rights day, under a barrage of tear gas after Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein died following a violent assault by Israeli forces.

Image of Palestinian Minister Zaid Abu Ein being confronted by Israeli forces,  near Turmusaya, West Bank, Palestine (Image: Sky News via Yousef Munayyer)
Image of Palestinian Minister Zaid Abu Ein being confronted by Israeli forces near Turmusaya, West Bank, Palestine (Image: Sky News via Yousef Munayyer)

International outrage followed Abu Ein’s death due to the violent confrontational assault by Israeli forces to a non-violent olive tree planting ceremony on Human Rights day.

The following week on December 17th when the planting commenced, hundreds of determined Palestinians marched back to the same location to finish the planting, in honor of Abu Ein, and again were assaulted by Israeli forces who inevitably and consistently protect the interests of settlers in illegal outposts and settlements all over the West Bank. The International Solidarity Movement covering the event on December 17th cited human rights defender Abdullah Abu Rahmah:

“Ziad was planning to plant olive trees on private Palestinian land near the illegal outpost of Adei Ad, but was violently prevented from reaching the site by the Israeli military who assaulted and killed him. We thought that after killing the minister, yesterday the military would allow us to plant trees peacefully but we found the same soldiers prepared to use even more violence against us,” Said human rights defender Abdullah Abu Rahmah.

Palestinians continue the struggle against the Adei Ad outpost. December 17th 2014 (photo: International Solidarity Movement)
Palestinians continue the struggle against the Adei Ad outpost. December 17th 2014 (photo: International Solidarity Movement)

“Despite the occupation forces’ violence, we planted trees in the place where Ziad had planned to plant them. Despite their violence, we will continue to struggle with the farmers whose land is stolen and the farmers who are prevented from cultivating their land by the occupation. ” Abu Rahmah was injured by a stun grenade that was thrown directly at him while he was planting an olive tree.

Activists suffered from severe tear gas inhalation and many were arrested. The highly volatile nature of these recent events following Abu Ein’s death may explain why U.S. Consulate staff would show up to investigate this particular assault last night. However, hundreds of thousands of olive trees have already been destroyed on Palestinian land without a mention from U.S. officials. So far the U.S. consulate has not issued a statement on the settler attack.


The AP’s Matt Lee has tweeted some updates from the State Department including a denial that U.S. security personnel drew their weapons:


Both The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal cited Palestinians witnesses who were traveling with the U.S. Consulate security convoy. Both reported witnesses’ claims the settlers were armed with clubs and an ax, or “axes”. 


A Palestinian resident of the nearby village of Turmusaya, who witnessed the confrontation while guiding the U.S. security detail, said settlers placed barriers in the road and a group of them started throwing dozens of rocks at the vehicle.

“There were about 10 to 12 guys, they started to throw rocks on the car,’’ said Said Raibe, the guide. “They knew 100% they were consulate cars. They know because guys from the consulate security got out of the car, and tried to talk to them.”

The U.S. security guards soon returned to the car, he said. Mr. Raibe said the settlers, some of whom covered their faces, were armed with metal rods and an ax.


“There were six security guards from the consulate riding in two cars,” [Awad]Abu Samra said. “When they got out of the cars they were attacked by young settlers from the outpost who were carrying clubs and axes. They struck the cars with clubs but the security guards did not respond with their weapons.”

Abu Samra said that after the attack began the American security guards returned to their vehicles and drove away, explaining that they were under strict instructions not to engage the settlers in any way. He said that the planned visit of the additional officials from the consulate was called off after the incident.

Abu Samra said that last spring he and his family planted some 10,000 olive tree saplings on land the family owns in the village, but that since then, settlers have uprooted most of them.

Abu Samra told Ma’an News the settlers had not only uprooted but also broken the roots of the saplings to prevent them from being replanted. He also said about 8,000 of the saplings planted since mid-December in the region, known as al-Zahrat, had been planted in honor of Minister Abu Ein. Since that time, according to OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there have been 320 settler attacks in the West Bank. Ma’an reports the attacks are “reportedly carried out in order to ensure that Palestinian farmers are unable to plant in the area and thus force them to leave the land, leaving it open to confiscation by settlers.”


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Of course, this will be hushed up and glossed over.

Imagine if the attackers had been Palestinian, or from any Middle Eastern country other than Israel really. Obama would have officially condemned it live on TV. No hanging around waiting for video footage. No talk of ‘concerns’ or cooperation with the local authorities. It would be war. Perhaps literally.

“.@StateDept official: #US working with #Israel”

of course

This outpost found to be illegal, built on Palestinian owned land, and ordered to be evacuated by Israel, in 1998. IDF went in to dismantle in 2003 and got attacked by settlers. Yesh Din and Rabbis for Human Rights have pleaded and petitioned on behalf of the Arab villagers whose crops and property are being destroyed. These folks are extreme and militant.

The SUVs have US diplomatic plates.

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