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Rights group suspects Israeli troops stood by while settlers fired on Palestinians, wounded 1
JERUSALEM (AP) ' An Israeli human rights group has released a video that suggests Israeli soldiers stood by while Jewish settlers opened fire on Palestinians in the West Bank, wounding one.
The B'tselem group says settlers from Yitzhar descended over the weekend on the nearby village of Asira al-Qibliya, where they threw rocks at Palestinian homes. Village youths confronted the settlers, and rocks started flying on both sides, B'tselem said. Settlers later opened fire, shooting a 24-year-old Palestinian man, who was hospitalized in stable condition, the group said.
Three soldiers appear in the footage, which was obtained by The Associated Press on Monday. They apparently did not stop the settlers from throwing rocks or shooting at the Palestinians and one soldier is seen running away from the unrest.
The footage "raises grave suspicions" the soldiers did not act to prevent settlers from firing, B'tselem said.
The Israeli military said the incident was being investigated but "it appears that the video in question does not reflect the incident in its entirety."
A spokesman for the settlement said the incident was touched off by Palestinians who set fire for the third week in a row to fields near Yitzhar. Fires were burning in the footage.
The spokesman, Avraham Binyamin, said the settlers' security squad and firefighting team were attacked by dozens of Palestinians throwing rocks.
"When a person's life is threatened, it's his right to defend himself," he said.
He said the soldier who was in command didn't take charge of the situation and quell the unrest, and fled after being struck by a rock.
Ahmed Abdul Hadi, council chief for the Palestinian village, said settlers frequently attack their community of 3,000 people.
"This time, they clearly wanted to kill somebody," Abdul Hadi said. "They don't normally fire, but unfortunately, this time the army was there and watching. We hope the Israeli government will prevent the settlers from attack us, not support them."