Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians has doubled this year

According to Haaretz, security forces in the country have adopted a policy of not intervening during most such attacks on Palestinians by the settlers to create a “permissive atmosphere” to allow them to “let off steam”

October 05, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: +972 Magazine

On Sunday, October 3, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the number of violent attacks committed by illegal Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied territories nearly doubled in the first six months of 2021.

According to the report, 416 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians were reported from January to June this year. In 2019, there were 363 such incidents in the entire year. In 2020, the cases went up to 507. The violence against Palestinians includes individual or coordinated physical attacks, sometimes leading to severe injuries and even murder, vandalism of properties and fields, and stone-pelting. 

According to the report, in 2021, at least 23 Palestinians were injured in such attacks by the settlers.

Israel has created hundreds of illegal settlements inside the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. More than 700,000 Israelis live in land appropriated from the Palestinians illegally in complete violation of UN resolutions and established international laws of occupation. 

Settlers motivated by Zionist colonial projects call the Palestinians “encroachers” and attack them to expand the Israeli settlements causing further displacement of Palestinians. Members of settler groups like Hilltop Boys and Price Tag have even been prosecuted in some cases of murder of Palestinians.  

Though the settlements are illegal, successive Israeli governments have provided them full security. The country has recently started following a policy of minimum interference during the violent attacks on Palestinians. According to the Haaretz report, the security forces called it a “Let off Steam” policy to create a “permissive atmosphere” to minimize their confrontation with the settlers.   

The report came in the context of Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups Peace Now and Breaking the Silence launching a campaign against the rising settler violence. They attempted to run ads on public transport demanding accountability from the Israeli government to curb settler violence. The campaign was launched after a 3-year-old Palestinian child, Mohammad Hamamdah, was wounded in one such attack on September 28 in a Palestinian village near Hebron. Scores of settlers vandalized Palestinian properties and attacked people during the attack, injuring at least 12 other Palestinians. 

However, the bus companies in Israel refused to carry on the campaign citing “public sensitivities” under pressure from Zionist groups who called the campaign “divisive.”