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Palestinian teen describes brutal attack by Israeli settlers

SILAT Al-DHAHR, West Bank

More than a fortnight after the attack, Tareq Zubeidi still spends most of his time in bed, too scared to go away home albeit the injuries on his feet allowed him to steer normally.

The 15-year-old is haunted by the memory of what he describes as a brutal attack by Israeli settlers, who he says beat him with clubs, tied him to a tree, and burned the soles of his feet.

“When I sit back myself I start brooding about all of them, then I start sweating and my pulse starts to extend,” Zubeidi said.

While there have been no witnesses to corroborate Zubeidi’s account, the Aug. 17 incident happened in a neighborhood that sees frequent violence between hard-line Jewish settlers and native Palestinians.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group that monitors settler violence, said it had been unable to verify all the small print of Tareq’s account but that “it is obvious that the boy was physically and mentally abused.”

The group documented a minimum of seven settler attacks on Palestinians and their property within the area around Zubeidi’s village within the last two years. It says that when the Israeli military intervenes, it often sides with the settlers. The Palestinians claim the West Bank, captured by Israel within the 1967 Mideast war because the main a part of a future independent state.

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The Israeli military says troops were dispatched to Homesh, a close-by settlement that was forcefully evacuated in 2005, after reports of Palestinians throwing rocks. When the soldiers arrived they found settlers chasing a Palestinian teenager who was later returned to his family, the military said during a statement.

Settler groups with links to Homesh declined to comment or said they were unaware of the incident.

Zubeidi said he and a few friends took some snacks up to the hilltop where the settlement once stood and located an area to relax. At around 9:30 a.m. they heard people shouting in Hebrew and searched to ascertain a little group of settlers coming toward them.

He denied he or his friends threw rocks, saying “I don’t know anything that .”

Instead, he said, they fearfully spent Capitol Hill toward their village of Silat al-Dhahr. Zubeidi said an earlier knee injury slowed him down, allowing another group of settlers during a car to catch up with him and knock him over as he descended the gravely street that connects Homesh with the most road.

“Four settlers got out of the car and there have been two others who were traveling by foot,” he said. “One of them had a gun.”

The settlers beat him with wooden clubs before blindfolding him and tying him to the hood of the car, he said. They drove for about five minutes, copy Capitol Hill, before the car came to a sudden halt, sending him tumbling to the bottom. “Then they began to hit me, spit on me and swear at me,” he said.

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