Hani Abu-Haykal, who lives in Tel Rumeida, said he parked his car near an olive grove as Palestinians are prohibited from entering the neighborhood with their vehicles.
A short while later his neighbors phoned his house to tell him that his car was on fire and that Jewish settlers were spotted nearby.
According to Abu-Haykal, this was the fourth family car set ablaze by settlers in recent months, and the second since the beginning of the year.
“I could not believe that my car was torched such a short time after I parked it, because an IDF outpost is situated only 20 meters away,” he said. “The soldiers could not have missed the settlers who torched the car.”
Abu-Haykal added that the soldiers prevented a Palestinian fire truck from arriving at the scene, claiming that it was Israeli territory.
“They waited for the car to burn down entirely before allowing the firefighters to approach, but by then there was nothing to save,” he said.
Abu-Haykal said Israel Police told him he could file a complaint only after the Passover holiday.
Abu Haykal's car in Tel Rumeida (photo: Curtosy of B'Tselem)
The Abu Haykal family turned to human rights organizations "Sons of Abraham" and the Red Cross to file a complaint, after the Cave of the Patriarchs Police hung up on his sister, claiming there was no one at the station who could take a call in Arabic.
"We cannot replace the car… our firemen are not allowed in and we can barely file a complaint. This is our fourth car to get burnt in the past few months, each time by settlers, usually under the soldiers' watch. Nothing is done."
Abu Haykal said that despite media coverage, settler violence in the Tel Rumeida area never ceases. "The thing is that all this happens under the soldiers' watch with no reaction from the police," he said.
Military sources reported that the forces did not see the car being set on fire, and when they did notice the burning vehicle, they called the police and a District Coordination Office official.
The IDF also reported that the forces did not stop the fire truck and that no such complaint was filed to the District Coordination Office.
The West Bank Police said that a police car was sent to the scene along with IDF forces and the Civil Administration. "This morning, according to procedure, a technician examined the vehicle and an investigation in the matter was opened," said the police report.
In another incident, Palestinian farmers from a village near the West Bank city of Qalqilya reported on Thursday that they woke up to find that 120 olive trees had been chopped down.
The farmers suspect that settlers from the nearby settlement of Revava were responsible for the act.
The trees were part of a grove planted in the beginning of March by the Rabbis for Human Rights organization in protest of previous uprooting of trees by settlers.
Lilach Shoval contributed to this report