An elderly Palestinian shepherd, Hamad al-Kett, 67, was admitted to the hospital on Friday with a fractured skull, internal bleeding, and bruising throughout his body, after he was attacked and beaten by a group of 12 Israeli settlers south of Nablus.The incident took place in Madama village, near the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank. According to eyewitnesses, the settlers came by foot from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar, a small outpost established by extreme right-wing Israeli settlers in the middle of several Palestinian populated areas and far east of the 1967 armistice line between Israel and Palestine.

Al-Kett was found by relatives and taken to the hospital in Nablus, where he remains in critical condition.

According to the acting charmain of the Madama Village Council, Eyhab al-Kett, “Hamad was herding his sheep in the southern region of the village, when he was attacked by settlers who tried to take the sheep from him. The old man tried to resist them, so they took advantage of the fact that he was alone and old and brutally assaulted him.”

Over 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law. Most moved there within the last fifteen years, after the Oslo Agreement was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which forbade such transfer of civilian populations onto land acquired by the use of military force.

Settler attacks on Palestinians have been on the rise in the northern West Bank, after the February murder of a family in their beds in Itamar settlement in that area. Although Israeli police accused a Palestinian teenager of the murder, his family claims that he was at home recovering from an operation and was not physically capable of carrying out the attack. They and other Palestinians in the area say that the murder in Itamar may have been a criminal act carried out by Israelis, not by Palestinians.