Israeli forces must immediately stop supporting settler attacks on Palestinians in West Bank: UN

AFP , Ahram Online , Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

The UN voiced grave concern Tuesday over escalating violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, demanding that Israeli security forces "immediately" stop supporting settler attacks on Palestinians in the occupied territory.

Israeli settlers
File photo: Israeli soldiers stand by as masked Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian protesters (unseen) during a demonstration against construction on an Israeli outpost near the Palestinian village of Turmusaya and the settlement of Shilo, north of Ramallah in the West Bank. AFP


With Israel's Gaza war raging, the United Nations rights office decried that Palestinians in the occupied West Bank had been "subjected to waves of attacks by hundreds of Israeli settlers, often accompanied or supported by Israeli security forces".

"The Israeli security forces must immediately end their active participation in and support for settler attacks on Palestinians," rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

"Israeli authorities must instead prevent further attacks, including by bringing those responsible to account."

She stressed that "those reasonably suspected of criminal acts, including murder or other unlawful killings, must be brought to justice through a judicial process that complies with international human rights standards, following a prompt, impartial, independent, effective and transparent investigation".



The UN rights office, she said, had received information that "armed settlers and Israeli forces" had entered several Palestinian towns and villages.

"Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured, including through the use of firearms, by settlers and Israeli forces, and hundreds of homes and other buildings, as well as cars, were torched," she said.

The UN also highlighted reports that colonial settlers had established at least two new outposts in recent days in the Jordan Valley and South Hebron Hills.

The outposts, she said, were "near Palestinian communities which have been repeatedly attacked by settlers in the past months and are at imminent risk of being forcibly transferred from their homes and land".

"Israel, as the occupying power, must take all measures in its power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety in the occupied West Bank," she said.

"This obligation includes protecting Palestinians from settler attacks, and ending unlawful use of force against Palestinians by the ISF."

On Monday, Israeli settlers killed two Palestinians in the West Bank, according to Palestinian officials, after a weekend of escalating violence across the territory.

The Palestinian health ministry named the victims of the attack near Nablus as Abdulrahman Maher Bani Fadel, 30, and Mohammed Ashraf Bani Jame, 21.

Salah Bani Jaber, mayor of Aqraba, a town near the northern city of Nablus, witnessed Monday’s settler attack. He said that about 50 settlers, many of them armed, attacked members of his community.

They “assaulted residents and fired at people in the town leading to the death of two citizens,” the mayor said, adding that “the occupation army is still holding the bodies.”

“There were Israeli soldiers at the scene who stood idly by watching the settlers,” he told the Reuters news agency.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said soldiers blocked its ambulances from reaching the area and tending to the wounded.



The West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, has seen a surge in violence against Palestinians since early last year, particularly since Israel's war on Gaza erupted on October 7.

At least 468 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or terrorist settlers across the West Bank since the war erupted.

In November, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA) said that 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. 

During this period, OCHA recorded 171 settler attacks against Palestinians, resulting in 26 different casualty incidents as well as damage to 115 Palestinian properties.

Since the Gaza war broke out, settler attacks against Palestinians have more than doubled, from an average of three to eight incidents a day, the UN said, citing incidents of intimidation, theft and assault.

Even before the war, the United Nations warned of a dramatic rise in West Bank settler attacks on Palestinian people and property, with nearly 600 such incidents registered in the first seven months of 2023, and the US State Department had unequivocally condemned as terrorism the killing of a Palestinian by the colonial settlers.


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