West Bank settlers stone U.S. diplomatic cars

The incident took place in the same sector where a senior Palestinian official was killed in clashes with the Israeli army

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Jewish settlers pelted a U.S. diplomatic convoy with stones Friday as envoys tried to visit the West Bank to investigate a complaint by Palestinian farmers over vandalism of olive trees, officials said.

A State Department spokesman in Washington said US authorities were “deeply concerned” about the incident but said no one was hurt and the American security team had not drawn their weapons.

“We can confirm a vehicle from the Consulate General was pelted with stones and confronted by a group of armed settlers today in the West Bank, near the Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya,” he said.

“Our personnel were in the area looking into reports that settlers had uprooted some 5,000 olive tree saplings in that area in recent days,” he said, adding that the visit had been cancelled after the attack.

“The Israeli authorities have also communicated to us that they acknowledge the seriousness of the incident and are looking to apprehend and take appropriate action against those responsible.”

An Israeli police spokeswoman confirmed the incident.

“According to initial findings, settlers threw stones at the US consular vehicles near the Adei Ad illegal settlement, close to the Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya,” she said.

She said the U.S. diplomats' mission had not been coordinated with Israeli security forces, and had been to assess “damage caused by acts of vandalism in an olive orchard of Turmus Ayya”.

Palestinians in the area have complained that settlers uprooted saplings planted on land recovered after a years-long legal battle.

A senior Palestinian official, Ziad Abu Ein, was killed in the same area on December 10 in clashes with the Israeli army during a protest against settlement building and land confiscation.