On 13 Dec. 2018, a Palestinian opened fire near the settlement of Givat Assaf, killing two soldiers and seriously injuring another soldier and a woman. Following the incident, large numbers of settlers set out to attack Palestinians. These attacks were predictable, yet the security forces did nothing to prevent them. This behavior by the security forces was also predictable. Settler attacks on Palestinians, in the presence and under the protection of the security forces, have long since become routine throughout the West Bank. It is clear to Palestinians today that no-one will protect them and their property and that no-one will be held to account when they are attacked.
Yet again, settlers vandalized Palestinian property. Yet again, the military saw nothing. Yet again, the police is having difficulty carrying out an investigation and tracking down the offenders. Yet again - because the perpetrators are settlers and the victims are Palestinians. These are not isolated incidents. They are a reflection of Israel’s policy in the West Bank, which leaves Palestinian homes, fields, vehicles and belongings unprotected and constantly vulnerable to attacks by settlers. View photoblog
In early September we published a review of attacks carried out by settlers from Yitzhar and its outposts against Palestinians from 'Urif, with the escort or active involvement of soldiers. This intensified in October and November. These are not isolated incidents but part of a deliberate state policy to dispossess as many Palestinians as possible, damage their property and livelihood, and drive them to leave their land as though of their own accord - facilitating a takeover and de facto annexation of the land to settlements.
On 17 Nov. 2018, a 72-year-old resident of Tel Rumeidah, Hebron, called an ambulance when she did not feel well. After coordination with the military, the ambulance set out, but was attacked by 15 settlers. They threw stones at the ambulance, penetrating the back windows, and verbally abused the crew. Settler violence against Palestinians in Hebron is routine. It is part of Israel’s discriminatory regime of separation in the city and is rarely investigated. Without deterrence, these attacks are bound to recur.
On Friday, 26 Oct, 2018, dozens of settlers tried yet again to invade an archeological site on land belonging to the village of al-Mazra'ah al-Qibliyah, escorted by security forces, as they have done over the last few months. They soon retreated, but clashes between the forces and residents continued. Later, when the forces began to leave, several dozen young men from the village ran after them. When they got close, at least one Border Police officer fired at them, wounding nine, two of whom died afterwards. Settlers frequently invade Palestinian-owned land with security forces’ backup. Yet the lethal outcome of this incident is unusual and defies every letter of the open fire regulations.
The olive harvest was once a joyful time for Palestinian families. Yet for many years now, it has been taking place under the shadow of landgrab, restrictions on access to land, attacks on harvesters and vandalization of trees. This reality, which forces farmers to abandon their lands, is no accident. It is the outcome of Israeli policy, facilitating the takeover of land to expand settlements or advance other Israeli interests. This year, B’Tselem recorded 2 physical assaults on harvesters and 9 cases of vandalization or crop theft in the Nablus and Ramallah Districts.
The village of ‘Urif, southwest of Nablus, has suffered from attacks by settlers from Yitzhar and its outposts. Since March, B'Tselem has documented six such attacks, some cases with the active participation of soldiers, as well as the seizure of private land, These actions seek to de facto annex the land to the settlements. As a result, Palestinians lose not only their land but also their livelihood. The consistent behavior of the security forces shows total disregard for Palestinian lives, safety, and property.
From 1 May to 7 July 2018, B'Tselem documented 10 cases in which settlers destroyed 2,000+ trees and vines and burned a barley field and hay bales in the West Bank. Some of the farmers have suffered repeat attacks. Despite this upsurge, settler violence is routine and fully backed by Israeli authorities: soldiers take part in some assaults and stand by in others; the police do not seriously investigate or act to prevent or stop attacks. Israel benefits from this gradual dispossession of Palestinians, which paves the way for a state takeover.
On 2 June 2018, after settlers assaulted a shepherd aged 71 just outside the village of ‘Urif, clashes erupted with local residents. Soldiers who arrived on the scene joined the settlers, throwing stun and teargas grenades, firing “rubber” bullets, and beating several Palestinians with their rifle butts. This incident is not exceptional: such attacks take place routinely, with the full support of senior officers and government ministers, and no effort is made to stop or prevent them.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.