Israeli troops have watched, joined settlers attacking Palestinians: NGO

Published November 14, 2021
This file photo shows Israeli soldiers walk with their weapons behind a group of Palestinians during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron. — Reuters/File
This file photo shows Israeli soldiers walk with their weapons behind a group of Palestinians during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron. — Reuters/File

An Israeli rights group said on Sunday that in 183 incidents of Jewish settler violence against Palestinians, Israeli forces did not intervene to protect Palestinians and at times actively joined the attacks.

In the report, the B'tselem rights group said it documented a total of 451 settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank since early last year.

“Settler attacks against Palestinians are a strategy employed by the Israeli apartheid regime, which seeks to advance and complete its misappropriation of more and more Palestinian land,” it said.

Israel, which has occupied the West Bank since 1967, rejects claims that its treatment of the Palestinians amounts to apartheid.

According to B'tselem, in 183 incidents of settler violence the army stood by or assisted the attackers.

As a result, it said, five Palestinians were killed and 22 arrested.

Israel's security forces did not immediately respond to questions regarding B'tselem's latest allegations.

Read more: HRW accuses Tel Aviv of pursuing ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians, Arab minority

B'tselem spokeswoman Dror Sadot said the group did not contact security forces because “we understood they do nothing about our accusations”.

According to the group, in five test cases across the West Bank, violent settlers took over more than 2,800 hectares of land.

As an example, the group cited the Ma'on Farm, erected illegally in the southern West Bank but together with a sub-outpost now controls some 264 hectares, including roads and pasture used by the area's Palestinian residents.

Shepherd Jummah Ribii, 48, of the Palestinian community Al-Tuwani, told B'stelem that assaults by settlers were pushing him away from farming that had sustained his family.

He said settlers attacked him severely in 2018.

“They broke my leg, and I had to spend two weeks in hospital and continue treatment at home,” B'stelem quoted him as saying.

“I had to sell most of our sheep to cover the cost of treatment.” Nearly half a million Israelis have moved to West Bank settlements that most of the international community regard as illegal.

Some settler outposts, including the Ma'on Farm, are also illegal under Israeli law, however, the government has been slow or unwilling to evacuate them.

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