HEBRON, West Bank – Jewish settlers attacked a Palestinian photographer who was taking pictures of Palestinian farmers picking olives in the West Bank on Saturday.
The incident, filmed by AP Television News, shows four Jewish men passing through an orchard in the West Bank town of Hebron. They are then seen punching and kicking the photographer, Abed Hashlamoun of the EPA news agency. Hashlamoun said he was taking pictures of the men when he was attacked. One of the settlers snatched his camera but dropped it after a foreign human rights activist tried to retrieve it, he said.
The footage shows a settler punching a 53-year-old British woman in the face as she tries to snatch a camera from him.
Janet Benvie was one of dozens of foreign and Israeli activists who came to Hebron to shield local farmers from possible attack by settlers who frequently assault Palestinians during the fall olive harvest.
The harvest is crucial to the local economy, and a long-held tradition emphasizing the Palestinians' attachment to their land. Left-wing Israelis and pro-Palestinian foreigners often accompany the olive pickers to protect them.
The APTN footage shows Hashlamoun lobbing a rock at one of the settlers after he was assaulted.
Nobody was seriously injured in the scuffle. The footage shows Israeli soldiers quickly breaking up the brawl and allowing the youths to walk away.
The military faulted the Palestinians and their supporters for going out to harvest without coordinating with military officials first.
"The Palestinians are aware that there must be coordination before harvesting," the military said. "There was no coordination before they arrived ... something that constitutes a provocation."
As for the attack on the photographer, "the media must understand that they entered a closed military zone and that they undertake risks when they do so," the military said.
Police have launched an investigation into the actions of the Palestinians and their supporters and the local residents who attacked them, it added.