Israeli Settler Violence Surges in West Bank Amid Government Inaction

Settler violence surges in West Bank, as Israeli government faces international condemnation for inaction. Attacks on Palestinians escalate, raising concerns about the volatile situation.

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Muthana Al-Najjar
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Israeli Settler Violence Surges in West Bank Amid Government Inaction

Israeli Settler Violence Surges in West Bank Amid Government Inaction

Israeli settler violence has surged in the occupied West Bank, with attacks on Palestinian villages and property escalating amid government inaction and international condemnation. The perpetrators have grown increasingly audacious, with some of their more extreme representatives now part of the current Israeli government.

The violence intensified after the disappearance and likely killing of a 14-year-old shepherd, with settlers going on rampages, burning houses and property in nearby Palestinian villages. Israeli security forces have done little to stop the attacks, and the Israeli government and wider society are seen as complicit in the behavior of the settlers.

On Saturday, Israeli forces killed 14 Palestinians during a raid in the occupied West Bank, in one of the heaviest casualty totals in the territory in months. In a separate incident, a 50-year-old Palestinian ambulance driver was killed by Israeli gunfire near the village of Al-Sawiya as he was making his way to transport people injured during an attack on the village by violent Jewish settlers.

Why this matters: The surge in settler violence and the Israeli government's apparent unwillingness to address it threatens to further destabilize the already volatile situation in the occupied West Bank. It also underscores the impunity with which Israeli settlers operate, with only a small fraction of police files opened regarding settler violence ever resulting in convictions.

The international community has called for action to contain the expansion of illegal settlements and to quash the violent behavior of the settlers. The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Israeli settlers for violence against Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, as well as on two Israeli outposts being used as bases for such attacks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the U.S. plans to sanction the IDF's Netzah Yehuda Battalion, which has been accused of mistreating Palestinians, calling it "the height of absurdity and a moral low." The U.S. is also considering applying the Leahy Law, which prohibits funding of foreign military units involved in human rights abuses, to multiple Israeli military and police units.

The violence in the West Bank has continued despite the withdrawal of most of Israel's combat forces from Gaza earlier this month. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned the attack on Al-Sawiya, stating, "This is not the first time that settlers have attacked Palestinians, with the protection of the occupation forces." The Israeli military said a number of militants were killed or arrested during the raid in the Nur Shams refugee camp, and at least four soldiers were wounded.

Key Takeaways

  • Settler violence surges in West Bank, with attacks on Palestinian villages.
  • Israeli security forces do little to stop attacks, seen as complicit in settler behavior.
  • Israeli forces kill 14 Palestinians in West Bank raid, ambulance driver killed by gunfire.
  • Settler violence threatens to destabilize West Bank, with impunity for perpetrators.
  • US and EU impose sanctions on Israeli settlers, consider applying Leahy Law to military units.