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3 Palestinians wounded in two West Bank incidents

By the CNN Wire Staff
Israeli soldiers and Palestinian medics treat Mahmud Ibrahim Awad, 33, after he was knifed by Israeli settlers on Monday, March 21.
Israeli soldiers and Palestinian medics treat Mahmud Ibrahim Awad, 33, after he was knifed by Israeli settlers on Monday, March 21.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Witness: Israeli settler opens fire on funeral procession in first incident
  • Two Palestinians are wounded
  • In the second incident, a farmer is stabbed
  • Israeli police call it a "price tag" attack

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Three Palestinians were wounded Monday in two separate incidents, including one that Israeli officials described as a "price tag" attack against Palestinians.

"Price tag" attacks are actions taken by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and Palestinian properties as retaliatory measures.

In the first incident, according to Yousef Abu Maria, head of the Popular Committee of Beit Ummar who said he was an eyewitness, a settler opened fire on a Palestinian funeral procession that was taking place in the village, wounding two Palestinians.

The two were identified as a man, 32, who was shot in the right leg, and a 59-year-old man shot in the chest.

According to Abu Maria, "An Israeli settler got out of his car, approached the cemetery gates, pulled his pistol and fired towards the funeral procession, injuring two Palestinian people."

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Abu Maria said the settler then ran for cover to a nearby Israeli military watch tower but was not arrested by the military.

"The Israeli soldiers did not arrest the Israeli settler and gave him a safe haven. Later the soldiers started firing tens of tear gas canisters towards the people who were taking part in the funeral procession without any reason, just to protect the settler," he said.

The Israeli military denied that its soldiers were standing idly by and said they only began employing tear gas after Palestinians started throwing rocks at their positions.

Dr. Mohamad Hashlamon of Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron said the staff there treated the two Palestinian with gunshot wounds.

Israeli Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told CNN that police received reports of the shootings and were investigating the incident, adding that they had also received complaints about Palestinians throwing rocks in the area.

In the second incident, a 32-year-old Palestinian farmer was stabbed in the upper body by masked Israeli settlers in the southern Hebron hills, according to Palestinian medical officials.

They said the man, Mahmoud Awad from the village of At-Tuwaini near the settlement Havat Mo'an, was stabbed in the shoulder and chest and remains in moderate condition.

According to eyewitness, Awad was travelling on a donkey in the Hebron Hills area when three masked Israeli settlers approached him. One of the masked men stabbed the man in the shoulder and chest, then fled the area, the witnesses said.

Rosenfeld said "the police believe this is a 'price tag' incident" and that officers were on the scene searching for the suspect.

In a statement, the Palestinian Authority held the Israeli government responsible for both attacks for what it described as "tolerating settlers' violence against Palestinians."

"The Palestinian government media center holds the Israeli government responsible for tolerating settler violence against Palestinians," the statement read. "Only last week, six Palestinian workers were attacked brutally by settlers near Shilo settlement. This action was part of the 'price tag' policy of settlers that has been escalating, while the Israeli government remains tolerant and provides immunity for settlers committing crimes against Palestinians. Palestinians' safety and security is an immediate demand and need."

Hebron Governor Kamel Al-Hameed told CNN the incidents were not isolated, represent escalating attacks by Israeli settlers and said the Israeli government is not doing enough to put an end to them.

"It is clear that there is a continuous escalation in the daily attacks by the settlers on the Palestinians and is supported by the Israeli army because they do not interfere to stop these attacks and does not arrest any of the attackers and do not bring them to justice," Al-Hameed said. "The Israeli government looks like it is interested in escalating the situation and not interested in calming the situation. It is not interested in putting an end to these settlers' violations and acts of terror."

Monday's attacks come a week after five members of an Israeli family living in the northern West Bank settlement of Itimar were killed by an unknown assailant in what the Israeli military called a terror attack.

Commenting on that attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that the Palestinian Authority assist in finding those responsible but he did not explicitly blame Palestinians for the deaths.

An investigation is still ongoing.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack.

In an address to the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization last week, Abbas said, "We have condemned this crime ... it is not humanitarian and (an) unethical act ... but there was an insistence in directing the blame to the Palestinian people, before the investigation details and final report of who committed the crime were released."

CNN's Kareem Khadder contributed to this report