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Palestinian Villagers Detain, Beat Alleged Settler Assailants

Image: Injured Israeli settlers appeal to Palestinians not to hit them while they are detained by Palestinian villagers
Injured Israeli settlers appeal to Palestinians not to hit them while they are detained by Palestinian villagers in a building under construction near the West Bank village of Qusra, southeast of the city of Nablus, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Palestinians held more than a dozen Israeli settlers for about two hours Tuesday in retaliation for the latest in a string of settler attacks on villages in the area, witnesses said. The military said the chain of events apparently began after Israeli authorities removed an illegally built structure in Esh Kodesh, a rogue Israeli settlement in the area. In recent years, militant settlers have often responded to any attempts by the Israeli military to remove parts of dozens of rogue settlements, or outposts, by attacking Palestinians and their property. The tactic, begun in 2008, is known as "price tag." (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh) Nasser Ishtayeh / AP

Palestinian villagers on Tuesday briefly detained and beat up a group of Israeli settlers (pictured above), accusing them of having thrown rocks at farmers tending their fields in the occupied West Bank.

The incident - the details of which were disputed by a representative of a nearby settlement - stoked tensions long simmering on land where Palestinians seek statehood under struggling U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations with Israel.

Yet with several alleged settler assailants in Israeli police custody after they were extricated from Qusra village by the army, and no immediate repercussions for the Palestinians involved, the incident may signal a new toughness by the Jewish state in tackling violent ultranationalists.

Image: A Palestinian man (L) from the village of Qusra protects a group of Israeli settlers
A Palestinian man, left, from the village of Qusra protects a group of Israeli settlers after Palestinians detained and beat them at a construction site after they sparked clashes upon entering their village near Nablus on Jan. 7. JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP - Getty Images

"I was tending my fields when a group of around 30 settlers came down the hill and attacked us with stones," Palestinian farmer Mahmoud Tubasi told Reuters.

"We chased them and they fled to a house under construction. They were cornered there and some of the people here beat them - they had attacked us on our own land."

Image: Palestinians hit an Israeli settler, center.
Palestinians hit an Israeli settler, center, as Israeli soldiers escort him from the scene. Nasser Ishtayeh / AP

The Palestinians later released the group to Israeli soldiers.

— Reuters