Israeli shoots dead Palestinian after group of children comes under attack
IDF says settler shot a Palestinian in the chest after large crowd of locals from Qusra near Nablus began throwing rocks at a group of Israeli children visiting the area; Samaria Regional Council describes attempted 'lynch against a group of tourists' while Yesh Din claims man was toiling the land before being shot.
An Israeli shot dead a Palestinian on Thursday who was among a group of Palestinian rioters throwing rocks at a group of Israeli children visiting the Samaria region of the West Bank near the village of Qusra.
According to the settlers, one of whom opened fire on the Palestinians, the violence erupted after the Israeli group came under attack in what was described by the Samaria Regional Council as an "attempted lynch."
"Dozens of Palestinians threw stones and rocks at us, we were in a life-threatening situation, and we were trying to protect the children," said one of the children's fathers, who shot the Palestinian.
Two of the adults in the group were lightly wounded in the clashes and the children were spirited away from the danger zone under IDF supervision.
The Palestinian man who was shot dead was identified as 47-year-old Mahmoud Za’al Odeh. According to the Yesh Din NGO, he was toiling the land before he was shot.
Resident from Qusra claimed that riots broke out after a group of Israelis approached the village from the direction of the outpost Esh Kodesh.
Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas said settlers confronted Odeh and ordered him to move. When he refused, one of them shot him in the chest, Daghlas said.
IDF soldiers were rushed to secure the area as medics provided emergency aid to the wounded Palestinian while attempting to disperse the enraged crowds.
According to one of the two fathers who accompanied the children on the trip, the group of children from different communities in the Samaria region was on a bar mitzvah trip.
"We were hiking in an open area, near the road. Some 200 meters from Highway 5 and the Alon road, we were attacked by dozens of Arabs with stones, rocks and clubs. We were busy protecting the children, and I got hit in the head with a stone. The second father was also wounded. Thank God, the children are safe and sound, that's what's important."
The second father who accompanied the trip said he took the children into a nearby cave to protect them from the barrage of stones.
The children, he said, "were determined and brave, but some of them were frightened."
"I was busy protecting them, when at some point the Palestinians came really close, outflanked us and really boxed us in. The second father left his gun with me. I tried to keep them away by shooting into the air, and it didn't help, they kept coming closer."
He noted there were two Palestinians who tried to protect him and the children, but "30 others just tried to lynch (us)."
One of the parents accompanying the children said his gun was stolen by one of the Palestinian rioters, but was later recovered.
One of the children who came under attack told Ynet the Palestinians "started threatening us with a gun, throwing stones at us, told us 'give us your bags, give us your phones.' They swore at us, slapped us, punched us. I got a stone to my knee, my rabbi got a stone to his head, my friends got slapped and punched. They (the Palestinians) also tried to use tear gas."
"There were also Arabs who chased away the Arabs who wanted to throw stones at us, protected us for a little until the army came and found us," the child added.
Keren Perlman, the mother of one of the children, said her son told her the Palestinians "sprayed pepper spray into the cave" the children were hiding in. "They took their bags, equipment and candy," she added.
"He also told me many children made vows, about the feeling of imminent death, about (children) saying the 'Shema Yisrael' prayer, and about heart-rending crying," Perlman added.
She criticized the IDF for taking too long to arrive to the children's aid. "It took the army an hour and a half. An hour and a half in which the children hid in a crumbling cave with hundreds of Arabs above them. An hour and a half of the heroic parents standing at the entrance, enduring beatings and stones to protect the children, and the army just didn't bother showing up," she lamented.
The Samaria Regional Council said in a statement that “around 100 Palestinians tried to carry out a lynch against a group of tourists and attacked them from about a kilometer from the village."
The Judea and Samaria Division is checking whether the trip was coordinated in advance with the head of the Samaria Territorial Brigade, as some of the parents claimed.
Elisha Ben Kimon, Elior Levy, Yoav Zitun and the Associated Press contributed to this report.