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UN highlights rise in Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians

Experts document 771 incidents of settler violence causing injuries to 133 Palestinians and damaging 9,646 trees , mostly olive trees, and 184 vehicles in 2020.

14 Apr 2021

A Palestinian demonstrator scuffles with an Israeli settler during a protest against settlements [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]
A Palestinian demonstrator scuffles with an Israeli settler during a protest against settlements [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

The United Nations human rights experts have warned that violence, including assaults and property destruction, by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank has increased substantially in recent months.

During the first three months of 2021, more than 210 settler violent incidents were recorded, including one Palestinian death, they said.

Palestinian shot dead by Israeli settlers in West Bank. Video shows police beating. Israeli politician in Jerusalem. Israeli troops kill Palestinian driver, wound his wife

“In 2020, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 771 incidents of settler violence causing injury to 133 Palestinians and damaging 9,646 trees and 184 vehicles mostly in the areas of Hebron, Jerusalem, Nablus and Ramallah,” the experts said in a statement on Wednesday.

The group of experts behind the report included Michael Lynk, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, special rapporteur on adequate housing and right to non-discrimination, and independent expert Claudia Mahler.

They called on the Israeli military and police to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violent acts.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.452.0_en.html#goog_1033953874Play Video

According to the experts, the violence has been mainly motivated by ideology and intended to “intimidate and terrorise Palestinians”, and prevent them from accessing their land while pushing others to move.

They primarily target the livelihoods of rural Palestinians, vandalising livestock, agricultural lands, trees and homes,” they said.

In their statement, the experts noted a violent incident in Hebron on March 13, which saw a Palestinian family of parents and 8 children attacked by 10 Israeli settlers, some of whom were armed.

“The injured parents were treated at a medical facility in Hebron, and the children left traumatised,” it said.

Nearly 500,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 200 settlements and dozens of unauthorised outposts scattered across the Palestinian territories.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The Palestinians, who have limited self-rule in the West Bank, say Israel’s settlements deny them a viable state. Most countries view the settlements as illegal under international law.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.452.0_en.html#goog_1395210409Play Video

Sheikh Jarrah evictions

The rights experts also highlighted that dozens of Palestinian families living in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah face the threat of eviction from their homes.

“Similarly worrying are reports that over 70 families living in the Karm Al-Ja’buni area of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem are under threat of forced eviction to make place for new settlements,” said the statement.

“7 households have already received eviction orders and asked to vacate their homes by 2 May 2021. Such forced evictions leading to population transfers are strictly prohibited under international law,” it added.

Sheikh Jarrah, located on the slopes of Mount Scopus just north of the Old City, is home to 3,000 Palestinians, all refugees who were ethnically cleansed from their homes in other parts of historical Palestine during the 1948 Nakba.

In October last year, the Israeli magistrate court of Jerusalem ruled to evict 12 of the 24 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and to give their homes to Jewish settlers. The court also ruled that each family must pay 70,000 shekels ($20,000) in fees to cover the settlers’ legal expenses!

According to Grassroots Jerusalem, an NGO that is a platform for Palestinian community-based mobilisation, there has been an influx of Jewish settlers since 2001.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.452.0_en.html#goog_2043857681Play Video

Duty to protect

Invoking the Fourth Geneva Convention, the experts called on Israel to adhere to international law, which requires it to protect the population under occupation.

Calling on the international community to “impose meaningful costs on Israel’s protracted occupation”, the experts also demanded Israel halt its settlement expansion in the West Bank.

“Palestinians must be protected from settler violence and the perpetrators must be held to account for their actions.”

Note: Since its creation by the colonial powers, Israel has been flaunting all UN resolutions and engaging in mass violence and indignities heaped on the Palestinians to flee and immigrate.

If all these countries oppose Israel settlements, then settlement never abate?

EU, Turkey condemn Israeli settlement plans in West Bank

Israel’s settlements undermine viability of a two-state solution and the possibility of lasting peace, states say.

Houses under construction are seen in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim [Baz Ratner/Reuters]
Houses under construction are seen in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim [Baz Ratner/Reuters]

The European UnionUnited KingdomFrance and Turkey have condemned Israel’s latest approval to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

On December 25 and 26, Israel’s Higher Planning Committee approved the construction of 2,191 housing units in Israeli settlements.

The EU stressed that Israel’s decision undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the possibility of lasting peace in a written statement on Thursday.

“The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement construction and related activities is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law,” the statement reads.

France on Thursday condemned the move and called on the Israeli administration to reconsider the decision which “heightens tensions”.

“The settlements endanger the two-state solution, which is the only solution that would allow for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The UK said the recent decision is “unacceptable and disappointing” and urged Israel to cease such actions.

“Such actions are illegal under international law and call into question Israel’s commitment to any future peace agreement with the Palestinians,” Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said.

196 illegal settlements

Early on Friday Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement rejecting Israel’s “illegal decision” saying that it “carelessly continues to violate international law, especially the relevant United Nations resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to the UN, which forbids states from transferring their citizens to occupied land, as well as a presumptive war crime under the 1998 Statute of Rome that set up the International Criminal Court.

Israel’s Planning Committee approved the nearly 2,200 new housing units a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced early elections for April 2019.

Israel ‘moving rapidly’ towards annexation: UN envoy

Plans for 82 new homes in the Ofra settlement near Ramallah – where a shooting attack occurred earlier this month – have also reportedly received the green light.

According to Palestinian figures, roughly 640,000 Jewish settlers now live on 196 settlements (built with the Israeli government’s approval and funded by the US funds) and more than 200 settler outposts (built without its approval) across the occupied West Bank.

The vast majority of the international community considers the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and consider Israeli settlement-building activity there to be illegal.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process collapsed in mid-2014 due to Israel’s continued refusal to halt West Bank settlement building and accept pre-1967 borders as a basis for a two-state solution.

While Israel’s settlement projects have regularly drawn condemnation from Palestinians and in Europe, the US administration under President Donald Trump has taken a largely uncritical public stand.

According to Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel has refused to comply with more than 40 UN Security Council resolutions and about 100 General Assembly resolutions.

MORE ON PALESTINE

Yes! UN Human Rights Council declares Israel world’s No. 1 human rights violator


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