Palestinians in the West Bank have reported a major increase in Jewish “settler” violence after the 7 October Hamas attack, and Israeli forces, who are supposed to protect them, have turned a blind eye.
The Wall Street Journal reported that “settler” attacks on Palestinians have increased to about seven per day, which is an increase from three a day before the Hamas attack. The paper said 123 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the war broke out.
Dov Sedaka, a reserve Israeli general who works for a group that supports Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, told The New York Times that the new settler strategy is: “We are here, this land belongs to us and we will kick you off it, with all the means we have.”
“They’re not stopping the extremist settlers,” he said of the Israeli forces. “They’re closing their eyes.”
U.S. President Joe Biden last week urged Israeli settlers in the occupied territories in Israel to stop as Israel continues to starve out and bomb Palestinians in Gaza. (See “BIDEN SAYS ISRAELI SETTLER ATTACKS IN OCCUPIED WEST BANK HAVE TO STOP, BUT DOES NOTHING TO STOP THEM” 31 Oct 2023, “HUNGER STRIKER DEATH SPARKS ROCKET EXCHANGE BETWEEN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL” 9 May 2023, “ISRAEL KILLS 3 MORE PALESTINIANS DURING ANOTHER DEADLY WEEK” 14 Mar 2023 and “DOES ISRAEL SEEK A ‘FINAL SOLUTION FOR PALESTINIANS?’” 14 Feb 2023.)
“It has to stop,” Biden said. “They have to be held accountable. It has to stop now.”
Biden said “extremist settlers” are “pouring gasoline on the fire.”
Al Jazeera noted that these attacks have been increasing for months—even before the 7 October attack by Hamas.
The report noted that Israeli forces have carried out mass arrests inside the West Bank, which has been under Israeli military rule since the 1967 Mideast war.
The Associated Press reported that these Palestinians must abide by the Israeli military’s justice system. It is worth noting that Hamas does not control the West Bank. The report said there are about three million Palestinians and 450,000 “settlers” there. About 1,000 more Palestinians have been chased out of their homes in the area, according to UN figures. The WSJ, citing data from the UN, noted that up until the 7 October Hamas attack, 237 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank compared to 25 Israelis.
Nati Rom, 42, a lawyer in Esh Kodesh, an Israeli settlement, told the paper that everything has changed after the Hamas attack.
“Revenge is not bad. Revenge is natural,” he said, with a Uzi submachine gun “slung over his white shirt.”
The Times report said: “According to witness statements, video footage and analysts who have examined larger patterns of the violence, settler extremists in the West Bank have been attacking Palestinian homes and businesses, blowing up their generators and solar panels, burning down the tents of semi nomadic Bedouin herders—and even shooting people.”
The Times of Israel reported on Wednesday that “dozens of pictures and videoclips have emerged over the past week showing IDF soldiers abusing and humiliating Palestinians apprehended in the West Bank, often while they are blindfolded and handcuffed.”
The WSJ noted that if the Israeli violence against Palestinians does not ease in the West Bank, it could create a third front in the war—given that Israel is already fighting in Gaza and trading fire with Hezbollah.
TRENDPOST: If you get your propaganda from Fox News, you’d believe that the 7 October Hamas attack was a terror raid on a peace-loving country that has been treating Palestinians as equals until this sucker punch.
But we have reported extensively on the tension between Israel and Palestine under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government which is comprised of extremists and racists.
The WSJ report noted that the illegal settlements that have been popping up on Palestinian land only increased under Netanyahu’s hardline government, which has made any prospect of a two-state solution that much dimmer.
The paper wrote that Netanyahu’s government “has encouraged the expansion, approving thousands of new settler-housing units this year and looking the other way if they turn to violence as they compete with Palestinians for land, water, and other resources.”
One human-rights group’s lawyer told the WSJ that these settlers see this as “their moment to accomplish their political agenda.”
Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth told The New York Times in May 2021 that the “oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a performance that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution.”
Palestinians have been making the claim about the conditions there since the 1960s. President Jimmy Carter agreed with this back in 2006, and there is a growing number of Jewish human-rights groups that also make the claim. Jerusalem-based B’Tselem also made the claim.
We also remind our readers that in the 1967 six-day war, Israel invaded and seized Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, and the Syrian Golan Heights, expelling some 300,000 Palestinians from their homes, while gaining stolen territory that was three and a half times its original size. To date, some 670,000 Israelis live in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. They violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 which states, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
Diana Buttu, a lawyer and former adviser to Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization, told NBC News that it is important to “keep in mind that this process of dehumanizing Palestinians isn’t just affecting the population in Gaza but also in the West Bank.”
“We’re seeing the army shooting randomly at people. We’re also seeing that the army has been going after anyone who has been expressing support with the idea of resistance or otherwise, and the situation is very grave. We have nobody who is able to support us,” she said.
The Guardian reported earlier this year that incidents of settler violence across the West Bank happen every day, “and have steadily increased over the past few years.”
“Israelis living in the territory and East Jerusalem are motivated by what they see as a religious mission to restore the historical land of Israel to the Jewish people,” the paper said. Shootings, knife attacks, burning crops, vandalism, and the theft of land and livestock are supposed to make life for Palestinians so unbearable they have no choice but to leave.”