UN human rights experts have warned that violent attacks against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, including physical assaults and property demolitions carried out by Israeli settlers, have increased drastically in recent months.
More than 210 violent incidents by settlers were recorded during the first three months of 2021, including one Palestinian death, the report said.
In all of 2020, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 771 incidents of settler violence, which caused injuries to 133 Palestinians, mostly in the areas of Hebron, Jerusalem, Nablus and Ramallah.
They also documented deliberate damage caused to 9,646 trees and 184 vehicles.
The group of experts for the report included Michael Lynk, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, special rapporteur on adequate housing and right to non-discrimination, and independent expert Claudia Mahler.
“We call upon the international community to impose meaningful costs on Israel’s protracted occupation, and to demand that the occupying power halt its settlement enterprise immediately,” they said.
“Palestinians must be protected from settler violence and the perpetrators must be held to account for their actions.”
The report referred to an incident in Hebron on 13 March, which saw a Palestinian family of parents and eight children attacked by ten armed settlers. The children were left traumatised and the parents hospitalised as a result of their injuries.
“We are deeply worried by the atmosphere of impunity in which these attacks are taking place.”
Last night, Israeli settlers broke into the northern West Bank village of Jaloud, cut trees and a fence surrounding a plot of land, stole equipment and caused damage to construction material at the site, according to Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian official in charge of the settlements’ portfolio in the northern West Bank.
He told Wafa that settlers from the illegal Ahla settlement outpost built on Jaloud village land broke into a plot owned by a local Palestinain based in southeast of Nablus, cut trees he recently planted, poured 30 sacks of cement on iron bars used for construction, and stole building equipment.
Israeli settlers, particularly extreme right-wingers, are rarely held to account by the occupation authorities. Indeed, in most cases, the settlers who harass and attack Palestinians are accompanied and protected by Israeli soldiers.
Invoking the Fourth Geneva Convention, the experts called on Israel to adhere to international law, which requires it to protect the population under occupation.
At least 600,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 250 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. According to international law, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are classified occupied Palestinian territories and all Jewish settlements built there and the settlers who live in them are illegal.