“NIn recent months, and especially since October 7, repeated acts of violence by settlers have forced almost 1,000 Palestinians to abandon their homes”, highlighted Mairav Zonszein, an expert at Crisis Group, in an analysis released by this organization.
Thirty Israeli civil society organizations issued a statement on October 29, calling on external powers to intercede to halt “the wave of state-supported settler violence that has led, and is leading, to the forced transfer” of Palestinians in the West Bank, he highlighted. yet.
The ICG also warned that “the current far-right Israeli government has an explicit agenda to annex the West Bank”, noting that “settler violence serves the State’s agenda of strengthening its control over the territory”.
According to this organization, in the first half of 2023, settlers carried out 591 attacks in the occupied West Bank, an average of 95 per month or about three per day, which increased to “an unprecedented number of seven per day” since 07 October, when the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas carried out attacks against Israel that left almost 1,400 people dead and more than 240 people kidnapped.
Israel responded to the Hamas attack and has attacked the Gaza Strip. According to the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Islamist movement, more than 10,000 people died, including more than 4,100 children.
In the West Bank, “many acts of violence by settlers are not documented, as they involve intimidation or harassment, but do not involve material or bodily harm”, pointed out the ICG, which also warns of the arming of many Israelis since October 7, due to to the “shaken sense of security”, which led to “the number of gun owners tripling”.
This organization also pointed out that the Israeli Government is not being effective in combating violence in the West Bank.
“The Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, which has been tracking the state’s record of law enforcement in this area since its creation in 2005, has overwhelming evidence that Israeli soldiers often do nothing while settlers commit acts of violence against Palestinians”, he highlighted.
Yesh Din’s executive director, Ziv Stahl, stressed, cited by the ICG, that in addition to the growing number of incidents, many soldiers “are not just passive, but act together with the settlers in attacking the Palestinians.”
The ICG also highlighted that “all senior security officials in Israel condemned the violence of the settlers, but in practice the authorities did almost nothing to combat the phenomenon”, with the main tool used being the placement of the settlers in administrative detention, “a practice in which people are detained without charge or trial.”
This body also highlighted that, since the increase in incidents, the director of Israel’s internal security service, Ronen Bar, warned the war cabinet on October 30 “that settler violence could trigger a new dangerous escalation in the West Bank.”
“However, the IDF [Forças de Defesa de Israel] are overstretched, with all conscripted soldiers deployed along the southern border with Gaza or already within the strip, as well as the northern border with Lebanon, leaving only reservists to protect Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Many of these reservists are settlers themselves, who in addition are often tasked with fulfilling their reserve duty by protecting their own communities,” he pointed out.
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