Israeli settler violence intensifies

Munjed Jadu, Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

Organised settler violence has reached unprecedented levels under the protection of the Israeli Occupying Forces in the Palestinian West Bank, writes Munjed Jadu in Ramallah

Israeli settler violence intensifies


As part of a systematic policy led and supported by right-wing ministers in the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, extremist settlers from West Bank settlements have been launching racist attacks and deadly assaults against Palestinian villages and individuals from the north to the south of the West Bank.

Since last Friday, settlers have continued their terrorist attacks under the protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces on several villages and towns south of Nablus, including Duma, Burin, Qaryut, Qusra, and Beit Furik, as well as north and east of Ramallah and including Al-Mughayir, Beitin, Deir Jarir, Silwad, Ein Sinia, Abu Falah, Berqah, Atara, and Al-Mazraa Al-Gharbiya.

The attacks carried out by the settlers, under the protection of Israeli Occupation soldiers, have focused on villages surrounding the city of Ramallah, where settlers have launched violent attacks on Palestinian citizens and their properties, resulting in the killing of two people and the injury of dozens of others.

The settlers have also burned dozens of cars and homes, in addition to demolishing other houses in a series of attacks carried out in full view of the Israeli Forces.

Following the settlers’ turning of villages into battlefields and war zones, their attacks escalated to the burning of hundreds of cars and homes, as well as the killing of dozens of sheep as part of retaliatory attacks following the disappearance and killing of a settler two days ago.

The most violent attacks occurred in the village of Al-Mughayir north of the city of Ramallah.

Deputy Head of the Al-Mughayir Village CouncilMarzouk Abu Naim said that villager Jihad Abu Aliyawas killed by settler gunfireand 45 other people were shot at, including five who are now in critical condition, during a settlerattack on the village over three days.

He added that the settlers had burned16 houses, including 10 completely, and destroyed over 60 vehicles.

Abu Naim said that the settlers had stolen 120 sheep belonging to villager Imad Abu Aliya two days agoafter assaulting him, as well as 25 sheep from Sami Shoman. They had also burned 15 sheep pens during their aggression and slaughtered31 sheep belonging to villager Saleh Suleiman Nasr.

Journalist Wissal Abu Aliya described what happened in the Al-Mughayir village on Friday as an invasion by 1,500 armed settlers under the protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces turned the village into a war zone. Settler bullets had flown in all directions and fires had engulfed the homes and vehicles of Palestinians, she said.

She also said that the settlers had used highly flammable materials, burning everything in their pathas if the burned houses had been abandoned and left empty by the flames.

Abu Aliya said that the settlers’ aim had been to kill, as they had used live ammunition to target the heads and upper limbs of Palestinians who had rushed to defend their homes.She expressedfears for her own children, who were visiting their family home for the holiday, as the settlers carried out their attacks under the protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces.

The Israeli settlers had shown no mercy, targeting children, women, and some who had already suffered serious injuries, she said. There was clear coordination between the settlers and the Occupation Forces, she added, with significant military reinforcements arriving in the village at night, conducting interrogations, and smashing vehicles in front of homes.

Abu Aliya warned of a dangerous escalation in settler crimescarried out under the clear cover of the Israeli Occupation Forces and government.

She cited extremist Israeli Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who had encouraged the invasion of an area near the eastern entrance of the village and arming the settlers to carry out further crimes. The occupation soldiers stationed at the western entrance of the village had delivered a message to the villagers demanding that they evacuate their homes as the settlers would return to carry out more arson attacks.

Abu Aliya said that what had happened in Al-Mughayir was a model of the upcoming battle in the West Bank, which was facing confrontations with Israeli settler gangs armed and trained specifically to carry outorganised attacksaimed at displacing Palestinians.

The settlers have unleashed terrorist attacks on dozens of villages in the Nablus area, assaulting them under the protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces and opening fire on anyone who attempts to resist.

17-year-old Omar Ahmed Abdel-Ghani Hamed from the village of Beitin in Nablus was killed by the Israeli settlers this week, bringing the total number of those killed in the recent settler attacks to two, with dozens of others wounded.

Palestinian Settlement Resistance Committees in the area emphasised the need to organise in designated areas, realising that their only hope is unity. They stressed the importance of forming popular protection committees and increasing vigilance around the clock.

Munther Amerah, coordinator of the Settlement Resistance Committees in the West Bank, told Al-AhramWeekly that all residents of the village of Al-Mughayirhad showed extraordinary resilience in repelling the settler attacks.

However, he stressed the need to unify efforts not only in Al-Mughayir but also through the establishment of guard committees operating day and night by forming a joint operations room with neighbouring villages to centrally repel attacks.

Amerah, who was arrested at the beginning of the current war on 7 October last year and has spent several months in Occupation prisons, called for holding the settlers accountable and prosecuting them for their massacres.

The Palestinian presidency and government have condemned the settlers’ attacks and called on the international community to work to stop them and to hold both the settlers and the extreme-right Israeli Occupation government that supports them to account.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamed Mustafa instructed head of the Wall and Settlement Affairs Authority Muayad Shaban, Governor of Ramallah and Al-Bireh Leila Ghannam, and Governor of Nablus Ghassan Daghlash to support people in the West Bank villages and towns that have witnessed attacks by terrorist Israeli settler gangs and to provide relief.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the crimes of the settler militias and armed terrorist elements against innocent Palestinians living in villages, towns, camps, and cities in the West Bank.

The ministry said that organised settler terrorism has reached unprecedented levels under the protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces. Settler terrorist militias are encouraged, supported, and empowered politically by the Occupation regime, deepening the gradual annexation of the West Bank, sabotaging efforts to resolve the conflict politically, and undermining the opportunity to establish a Palestinian state, it said.

The ministry held the Israeli covernment and the extreme right-wing coalition directly responsible for these inflammatory acts, considering them to be an extension of the occupier’s supremacist and racist mentality that denies the existence of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination in their homeland.

The ministry called on the international community to urgently intervene to compel the Israeli government to halt the settlement activities, dismantle the settler organisations and armed militias, withdraw their weapons, stop their funding, and hold accountable those who support and provide them with protection.

It also called for imposing binding international sanctions on the Israeli colonial settlement system as illegal and illegitimate.

The ministry urged the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants against the Israeli extremist settlers and their backers who commit crimes against the Palestinians and bring them to justice.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 18 April, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


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