'Second Nakba': Hundreds of Palestinians forcibly displaced by Israeli settlers in occupied West Bank

'Second Nakba': Hundreds of Palestinians forcibly displaced by Israeli settlers in occupied West Bank
Palestinians in the West Bank warn of a second Nakba as Israeli settlers intensify attacks on Bedouin communities since the beginning of the Gaza escalation, last week.
4 min read
West Bank
19 October, 2023
Hundreds of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have been displaced by Israeli settlers since the launch of Israel's new war on Gaza last week. [Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

Israeli settlers have expelled at least two Palestinian Bedouin communities in the occupied West Bank since the new war on Gaza, which raises the number of Palestinian communities displaced by Israeli settlers since January to 10, the Palestinian Stop The Wall movement told The New Arab.

By Thursday, 19 October, around 40 Palestinian families in the community of Wadi Al-Siq, on the eastern slopes of the West Bank hills overlooking the Jordan Valley, were forced from their homes by Israeli settlers. Members of the community who took refuge in the neighbouring town of Taybeh told TNA on Saturday that Israeli settlers didn't give them time to take their belongings, as they forced them out.

In Taybeh, families have taken refuge in the town's surroundings after asking permission from the mayor. Families put up improvised tents provided by the local community between olive trees, barely enough to shelter the women and children. Some men have been sleeping on mattresses placed on the dirt at the foot of the trees.

Displaced Palestinians West Bank / Qassam Muaddi
Families of the displaced communities scattered between 4 villages in the east of Ramallah.
[Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

"At around 2:00 am, some 25 Israeli settlers, most of them armed with assault rifles, entered the community and began to shoot between the houses, calling on us to leave", Habes Kaabneh, a 47-year-old displaced Palestinian, told TNA.

"They entered our trailer-houses and tents and pushed families out violently", said Kaabneh. "Women and children ran in chaos, and some of them escaped down to the Valley and were lost for several hours."

Displaced Palestinians West Bank / Qassam Muaddi
Since the beginning of 2023, Israeli forces and settlers have displaced 10 Palestinian communities in the West Bank, according to local sources. [Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

"My grandfather was forced out of our lands in the Naqab in the 1948 Nakba, and this is a second Nakba; we are living again, 75 years on, under the eyes of the whole world", added Habes Kaabneh.

"A settler hit me with the back of the rifle on my shoulder and ordered me to leave, inside my tent and in front of my children," a woman of the displaced community, who asked not to be named, told TNA.

"I asked him to let me take my handbag, where I had my and my children's papers and my mobile home, but he didn't let me", said the woman.

"I ran with my children and other women and children of the community down to the bottom of Wadi Al-Siq Valley as the settlers followed us, and I took refuge in a cave for four hours until the settlers left", she said. "I then walked with my children more than a kilometre to reach the road, where my brother-in-law was in a car, looking for us", she detailed.

"I left all our clothes, our kitchen tools, our money and my children's books and toys, let alone my chicken and goats", she explained.

"All we ask is to let us return for some hours, just to take our things that the settlers are stealing", she added.

Displaced Palestinians in West Bank

Later on Tuesday, Israeli forces allowed Palestinians to return to the displaced community for two hours to take their remaining belongings.

Another member of the displaced community, 46-year-old Sliman Kaabneh, told TNA, "Some families who could save some of their livestock are now selling it to have cash, just to be able to sustain their families, now that we have nowhere to herd".

"A relative of mine had 200 goats, and it was all his capital and had them away from the community, which allowed him to save them", pointed out Kaabneh. "Now he only has 30 left because he has been selling them to provide for his family and guarantee a place to live", he said.

Last week, a video circulated on social media showed Israeli security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir distributing assault rifles to Israeli settlers in the West Bank. According to a report by the Knesset's security committee, revealed last week by Israeli media, there are an estimated 150,000 firearms in the hands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, expected to rise to 165,000 before the end of the year.

"Israeli settlers are taking advantage of the media attention being focused on Gaza to advance the Israeli settlement plans in the West Bank", Jamal Jumaa, coordinator of the Palestinian grassroots campaign against Israeli wall and settlements - Stop The Wall, told TNA.

Displaced Palestinians West Bank / Qassam Muaddi
Around 120 children of the Wad Al-Siq community are left without a school after being displaced. [Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

The plan clearly aims at clearing the eastern slopes of the West Bank of Palestinian communities, and that phase is practically completed", said Jumaa.

"This paves the way to settlement expansion along the eastern line of the West Bank and eventually isolates the Jordan Valley completely from the rest of the West Bank", he noted. "We expect settler violence to increase against Palestinian towns and villages in area 'b' adjacent to the Jordan Valley in coming months."

Since the beginning of Israel's new war on Gaza, Israeli forces and settlers have killed 60 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and 3,300 Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.