Israeli army complicit in settler violence that displaced West Bank communities : HRW

AP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 17 Apr 2024

Human Rights Watch says Israeli forces either took part in or failed to stop settler attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank that displaced hundreds of people from several Bedouin communities last fall.

west bank
A Palestinian inspects the fire damage to a home in the village of Qusra, south of Nablus on April 14, 2024, after an attack by Israeli settlers on the village the previous day. AFP


Settler violence surged after the war on Gaza erupted, leading to the complete uprooting of at least seven Palestinian Bedouin communities and displacement from several others in the occupied West Bank, according to the New York-based rights group.

Settlers launched another wave of attacks late last week after a 14-year-old Israeli boy was killed in what Israeli authorities claim was a militant attack. 

During the attacks, Israeli settlers, many of them armed, killed two Palestinians in villages near Nablus, burning dozens of Palestinians' homes farms, and cars. Residents said that the Israeli army was protecting the settlers firing tear gas and rubber bullets at Palestinians trying to confront and expel them.

The United Nations human rights office on Tuesday called on Israeli security forces to “immediately end their active participation in and support for settler attacks on Palestinians.”

The Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday focused on the earlier rash of violence. The rights group says Israeli settlers assaulted Palestinians, stole their belongings and livestock, and threatened to kill them if they did not leave permanently. The settlers also destroyed homes and schools.

More than 460 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank since Oct. 7, most in clashes sparked by army raids but some by settlers.

The Jewish settlers are Israeli citizens, and many serve in the armed forces. The Palestinians live under seemingly open-ended Israeli military rule, in a situation that Human Rights Watch and other major rights groups confirm is a form of apartheid.

Expanding settlements

Israel’s government has accelerated the construction of settlements across the occupied East Jerusalem, with more than 20 projects totaling thousands of housing units having been approved or advanced since the start of the war in Gaza six months ago, the Guardian reported citing planning documents.

Israeli planning authorities have approved two new settlements since the outbreak of the war, the first to be approved in East Jerusalem in more than a decade.

In March, the U.N. human rights chief said that Israeli illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories have expanded by a record amount and risk eliminating any practical possibility of a Palestinian state.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said creating and expanding settlements amounted to the transfer by Israel of its civilian population into occupied territories.

"Such transfers amount to a war crime that may engage the individual criminal responsibility of those involved," he said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council.

Reported Israeli plans to build another 3,476 settler homes in the West Bank colonies of Maale Adumim, Efrat, and Kedar flew "in the face of international law", he said.

They are now home to more than 490,000 Israelis, living in the same territory as around three million Palestinians.

Turk said that during the period covered by his report -- November 1, 2022, to October 31, 2023 -- some 24,300 housing units were added to existing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Short link: