Israeli settlers attack activists in occupied West Bank: NGO

Israeli settlers attack activists in occupied West Bank: NGO
The incident adds to a growing list of violence by Israeli settlers against activist groups working to protect the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank.
3 min read
08 July, 2024
There has been a rise in armed settlers in the occupied West Bank under the governance of far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir [GETTY/file photo]

A group of Israeli activists were attacked by extremist settlers in the occupied West Bank on Monday, according to an Israeli rights group, while authorities demolished Palestinian homes and a school, in the latest intimidation attack by settlers backed by the Israeli army in Palestinian land.

Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence said that two activists were violently attacked and two others had their phones snatched and thrown away.

The group were targeted in the small Palestinian village of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills in the presence of the Israeli army who failed to intervene, according to a report in Israeli newspaper The Times of Israel.

It is not the first time the village has been targeted by violent settlers in the presence of the Israeli military.

In 2021, armed settlers attacked agricultural structures in the village, as documented by Breaking the Silence. Another alarming incident in October 2023 saw a settler shoot an unarmed Palestinian villager at point blank range in the presence of the Israeli military.

Yehuda Shaul, co-founder of Breaking the Silence, posted videos on X on Monday showing a school and homes being demolished by a bulldozer under the orders of the Israeli military in the West Bank.

"Israeli authorities have just demolished a school in the village of Umm Lasafa, South Hebron Hills (SHH). This round of demolition was preceded by 2 other rounds in the SHH just today."

Shaul said 20 Palestinians had been made homeless by the authorities' demolitions of houses and animal enclosures. The school’s destruction means 60 children in the area are now out of education.

"All in a day’s work by the Israeli authorities," Shaul, himself an Israeli, said.

"The absence of significant international pressure on IL policy in the West Bank is only enabling the devastating acceleration of IL annexation," he said, referring to the policy under Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government that has overseen the expansion of settlements and allowed settlers to roam largely unimpeded.

Israeli authorities recently approved a plan to "legalise" five settlements under Israeli law. Last week, the government gave the green light to a building plan that would see 5,300 new homes for Jewish people in the occupied West Bank, against a backdrop of concerns from Western nations including the United States.

Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, himself a settler, encourages the encroachment of settlements on Palestinian land and recently announced plans to target left-wing Israeli NGOs who support Palestinian rights.

The acceleration of settlement developments is further stoking tensions in the West Bank, which has been illegally occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and while governments in the US, UK and Europe have expressed concern about the rise, it has not been enough to deter Israeli policy.

Canada recently announced sanctions against seven Israeli settlers, following in the footsteps of allies the US and the UK.

The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, known as OCHA, has documented the killings of 539 Palestinians by either Israeli troops or settlers between 7 October and 1 July.

The New Arab contacted Breaking the Silence and the Israeli military but had not received a response by the time of publication.