The investigations into most cases involving attacks by settlers between 2005 and 2019 were closed by Israeli authorities with no charges filed. (AFP)
UN figures show 410 attacks against Palestinians by settlers have been recorded so far this year, compared with 358 last year and 335 in 2019
Experts say ‘deep-state support provided by Israel to the illegal settlement enterprise … has fueled this coercive environment and encouraged violence’
NEW YORK: UN human rights experts on Wednesday condemned the record-high levels of violence carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories this year.
They also criticized the Israeli government for its lack of action to curb the attacks and protect Palestinians. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel, as an occupying power, has an obligation to protect the population under occupation.
Instead of intervening to halt the violence, however, Israeli security forces and private security companies “respond to settler-related violence by ordering Palestinians to leave the area, including Palestinian-owned land, or even actively support the settlers,” the experts said.
According to the UN, 410 attacks by settlers have been recorded so far this year, during which four Palestinians were killed. This compares with 358 recorded attacks last year and 335 in 2019.
“These settler attacks are primarily directed against rural Palestinian families living on small farms or in villages and towns in the occupied West Bank, located in close proximity to Israeli settlements,” the independent experts said.
“Many of these Palestinians reside in the so-called ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, which is under complete Israeli security and civil control, and where Israel’s de facto annexation stratagem is most evident.”
The experts, who include Michael Lynk, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967, said that the violence takes various forms, including “physical violence, shooting with live ammunition, torching of fields and livestock, theft and vandalization of property, trees and crops, stone-throwing and tenacious intimidation of herders and their families.”
In the fall, they added, Palestinians farmers harvesting their olive crops are often threatened and attacked by settlers armed with rocks and pipes, and their olives are stolen or destroyed.
The experts also told how settlers set their sheep and cattle grazing on private and public land confiscated from Palestinians “as an initial step to drive Palestinians away from their land. If Palestinians attempt to keep their land, they are frequently met with violence.”
The investigations into most cases involving attacks by settlers between 2005 and 2019 were closed by Israeli authorities with no charges filed, according to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization.
The UN experts warned that the escalating violence is not simply the result of “a few bad apples” among the settler population.
“The deep-state support provided by Israel to the illegal settlement enterprise, including to the more than 140 settlement outposts established throughout the West Bank in defiance of even Israel’s own laws, has fueled this coercive environment and encouraged violence,” they said.
They appealed to the international community to accept its responsibility to address the situation by imposing measures to end the impunity with which the settlers act, and restore respect for the international rule of law.