Terrorist Israeli settlers escalate attacks on Palestinians in West Bank

Yasmine Osama Farag , Thursday 2 Nov 2023

More than 820 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have been displaced amid terrorist settlers violence and increased movement restrictions since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA) said on Wednesday.

Israeli settlers
Israeli settlers extremists attacking Palestinians. File Photo


Israeli settler violence has increased significantly, from an already high average of three incidents per day in 2023 to seven a day now, according to (OHCA).

During this period, OCHA recorded 171 settler attacks against Palestinians, resulting in 26 different casualty incidents, damage to 115 Palestinian properties, and some 30 reported incidents of both property damage and casualties.

Cases of harassment, trespass and intimidation are not included in the reporting, although they too increase the pressure on Palestinians to leave their land, the Office noted.

Access restrictions, typically imposed by the Israeli authorities, have also intensified throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. These are particularly severe in areas near Israeli settlements and in the so-called “Seam Zone”; the Palestinian area isolated by Israel’s 712-kilometre-long barrier in the West Bank.

Settlers too have imposed movement restrictions, OCHA said, blocking access roads to Palestinian communities, and limiting their access to essential services and livelihoods. In some cases, settlers have also damaged water resources which herding communities rely on.

Humanitarian assistance services, including health and education, have also had to stop since the restrictions intensified, OCHA added.

The Office also noted the use of firearms to intimidate Palestinians, with more than one in every three settler-related incidents since 7 October involving settlers using firearms to threaten Palestinians, including by opening fire.

The evening Israel declared war on Hamas in Gaza, armed terrorist settlers descended on the Palestinian village of Wadi al-Seeq in the occupied West Bank.

The village’s children trembled with fear as their parents recounted how the settlers dragged three men from their families, stripped them to their underwear, blindfolded them with their own T-shirts and took turns beating them.
When Abu Hassan, a 58-year-old Bedouin goatherd, begged for mercy and pointed to a scar from a recent heart surgery, one of the Israelis slammed a rifle butt into his chest. Then, they urinated on him.
“Leave! Go to Jordan, go wherever,” he remembered them shouting. “Or we will kill you.”
On 12 October, eight households, comprising 51 people, were displaced from the Shihda WaHamlan herding community in Nablus in northern West Bank, after settlers threatened them at gunpoint, saying they would kill them and set their tents on fire during the night, according to OCHA.
It added that in almost half the cases, Israeli security forces “accompanied or actively supported” the attackers.

Damage or destruction was caused to 24 residential structures, 40 structures used for farming, 67 vehicles and more than 400 trees and saplings.

An increasing number of Israeli settlers have moved onto West Bank land, occupied by Israel since 1967, undermining a potential two-state solution to the long-running conflict, where two States live peacefully side by side.

Israel has imposed stringent security measures in the West Bank, which has been under occupation since 1967. These measures include the closure of most travel routes between cities, the blockage of exits from certain refugee camps, and the deployment of troops into the core of Palestinian cities like Jenin and Nablus.

The United States on Wednesday called violence by West Bank settlers in tandem with the Israeli war on Gaza "incredibly destabilizing" and urged Israel to rein them in. Earlier in August, Washington has unequivocally condemned as terrorism the killing of a Palestinian by an Israeli settler, in the occupied West Bank.

Also, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell had "expressed great concern over attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, which he firmly condemned".

Settler violence in the West Bank is "incredibly destabilizing and counterproductive to Israel's long-term security in addition to, of course, being extremely harmful to the Palestinians living in the West Bank," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

More than 131 West Bank Palestinians have been killed since the war on Gaza began.

On Thursday, the Israeli occupation forces detained at least 65 Palestinians in raids across the occupied West Bank, including two women, bringing the number of Palestinian detainees in the West Bank to 1900 since October 7, according to Palestinian prisoners’ advocacy groups.

The Prisoners’ Commission and the Prisoner’s Society said that most of the detentions were carried out in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron governorates, and they were accompanied by abuse against detainees and their families, threats, collective punishment, and vandalism of homes.

 Palestinian detainees include those arrested at their homes, at checkpoints and those who were forced to turn themselves in after holding members of their families as hostages, said the groups.

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