Record number of Palestinians displaced in occupied West Bank last year: report

Record number of Palestinians displaced in occupied West Bank last year: report
Palestinians have been facing systematic discrimination and arrests by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, with settler attacks also increasing.
2 min read
23 February, 2024
An anti-Palestinian slogan in Hebrew is seen on a Palestinian home after a reported attack by Israeli settlers from the nearby Shilo settlement, in the village of Turmus Ayya near Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank on February 18, 2024 [Getty]

Palestinians were displaced from homes and land in the occupied West Bank at record levels in 2023, according to a new report, as Israel’s right-wing government allowed settlement expansion and failed to penalise violence by extremist settlers.

Around 4,000 Palestinians were displaced last year from policies implemented by Israeli authorities or settler action, which saw Palestinians subjected to harassment, abuse and land encroachment, according to a report published on Wednesday by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The figures collected for 2023 mark the highest numbers recorded since 2009 when OCHA began the reports, with the intensity of such violence increasing since Israel began its war on Gaza on 7 October of last year.

The report said that a total of 1,153 Palestinians, including 581 children, were displaced when Israeli authorities demolished or forced them to demolish their own homes allegedly due to not possessing Israeli issued building permits, which are almost impossible to obtain.

This marks a jump from 2022, in which 923 people were displaced due to a lack of permits.

B’tselem has noted that Israel’s planning policy in the West Bank is designed to prevent “Palestinian development and dispossessing Palestinians of their land.”

A further 1,539 Palestinians were expelled from communities in Area C of the West Bank following attacks by settlers and decreasing access to land, which often penalises Bedouin farmers.

An estimated 325,000 Israeli settlers live in Area C, which covers 60 percent of the West Bank territory and is administered by Israel.

Israel controls security and land management, using the Palestinian territory for its own purposes such as military training and settlement development.

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, but Israel has continued to expand such outposts since occupying the West Bank in 1967.

The OCHA report noted that there were a number of “coercive factors” that led to such high rates of the forced displacement of Palestinians in 2023, including the "demolitions of Palestinian homes and property, systematic discrimination against Palestinians ... Israeli forces arrests and often violent operations".

In Hebron, an area associated with settler aggression, 200 Palestinians were displaced because of Israeli forces imposing movement restrictions.

Israeli settlers, sometimes armed with batons, knives and firearms, have been documented attacking farmers and stealing sheep. These settlers are rarely prosecuted by Israeli courts.

Both the UK and US governments have recently issued sanctions against extremist Israeli settlers in the wake of such increasingly aggressive attacks.