Settler violence: Israel’s ethnic cleansing plan for the West Bank

The Israeli state is actively encouraging settler violence against the Palestinians as part of its long-standing policy of displacement.

Illegal Israeli settlers walk with batons and axes along a street as Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian residents and shops in the town of Huwara in the occupied West Bank on 13 October 2022

Alice Panepinto and Triestino Mariniello write in Al Jazeera on 26 February 2024:

On February 8, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian shepherds who were out grazing their herds in the Sadet a-Tha’leh community, near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. They expelled the Palestinians from the pasture and used drones to scare their livestock. As a result, the shepherds suffered severe losses as many of their terrified animals had miscarriages and stillbirths in the middle of lambing season.

The incident is not unique and it is part of what human rights defenders are describing as “economic warfare by settlers which leads to displacement”.

What happened at Sadet a-Tha’leh is one of 561 incidents of Israeli settler attacks against the Palestinians, which the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has recorded between October 7 and February 20. As of January 17, settlers have killed at least eight Palestinians and injured 111, per OCHA’s database. Repeated waves of violence by settlers, often backed by the army, have led to the displacement of 1,208 Palestinians, including 586 children, across 198 households.

While humanitarian and human rights organisations tend to register these violent acts as separate incidents, they constitute systematic brutality unleashed by extremist settlers onto the Palestinian population of the occupied West Bank in parallel to the plausibly genocidal acts carried out by the Israeli army in Gaza.

Supported by the Israeli security forces and aided and abetted by the government, settler violence is a central part of the Israeli state’s policy and plan to ethnically cleanse the occupied Palestinian territory in order to establish full sovereignty over it and enable settlement expansion – despite settlements being illegal under international law.

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