Three people suffered minor injuries Christmas Day, as assailants outside Hebron threw rocks at a busload of students enrolled at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post reported Friday. The students were on a tour of Bethlehem in the West Bank hosted by Breaking the Silence, a left-wing nongovernmental organization.
A bus window was also broken, the organization said. Those on the tour continued to a nearby settlement, Kiryat Arba, where they stopped to tend the injured. Three female students were hurt by rocks, and another student was scratched on her face by broken glass, the Times of Israel said.
Some media outlets reported the rock throwers were Palestinians: The Hebron area of the West Bank has seen near-daily violence since October, including car ramming, rock throwing and stabbing. Breaking the Silence, a controversial group of Israeli military veterans, have reported alleged abuses of Palestinians that they either participated in themselves or witnessed, as noted by the Times of Israel.
Since its founding in 2004, Breaking the Silence has regularly sparred with Israeli military and political leaders over its accounts of army abuses, which they say harms Israel’s reputation abroad.
Breaking the Silence angered the top brass by publishing in May a report that accused it of indiscriminately killing civilians during Operation Protective Edge, which was conducted during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. The Israeli military responded to the report by affirming its commitment investigating all abuse claims against it, according to the Times of Israel. It also questioned the integrity of the group’s methods in gathering evidence to support its allegations.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has banned Breaking the Silence from events that Israeli soldiers attend. In a Facebook post, Yaalon blasted the group’s “hypocrisy and deceitful propaganda against IDF soldiers and the State of Israel, which is part of the delegitimization campaign against us.”
The rock-throwing incident Friday wasn’t the only one reported in the area. Stone throwers also pelted the car of Catholic Archbishop Fouad Twal, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, when he arrived in Bethlehem for Christmas Day celebrations. Although the car was damaged, nobody was injured, according to media reports.