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Settlers storm West Bank villages, attack Palestinians

Settlers rampage through West Bank, burning cars and injuring Palestinians
4 min read
13 April, 2024
Palestinians in the West Bank faced large-scale attacks by Israeli settlers on Friday and Saturday, as cars were set alight and dozens injured
Burning cars and buildings in al-Mughir following the settler attack in the occupied West Bank [GETTY]

Groups of Israeli settlers have been storming Palestinian villages, setting cars and buildings alight and attacking Palestinians, leaving one resident killed and dozens more wounded, as violence in the occupied West Bank soars.

Palestinians in the West Bank were on edge Saturday as Israeli forces patrolled towns and villages after hundreds of settlers descended on the village of al-Mughayir, northeast of Ramallah, on Friday and fired live bullets and set fires to vehicles and buildings.

The local mayor said that some 1,500 settlers stormed the town on Friday in a three-hour raid. Head of al-Mughayir village council Amin Abu Alia told Al Jazeera network that the attack was the “largest and most violent” the village had faced.

Overnight Friday, settlers attacked the village of Abu Falah, setting cars alight and attacking the residents, leaving five people injured, according to local reports.

Several villages were closed off by Israeli forces on Saturday, including al-Mughayir, Silwad and Turmus-Aya, local media reported. Settlers attacked Palestinian cars with live bullets near the villages of Atara and Duma, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Confrontations between Palestinians and settlers near the town of Deir Dibwan took place on Saturday. Videos which could not be verified by The New Arab showed large groups of men accompanied by Israeli soldiers near the village entrance.

Since the start of the Gaza war in October, Palestinians in the West Bank have been subject to increasing violence by Israeli settlers, who are often armed and accompanied by the Israeli military.

Health officials say more than 460 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli fire in the past six months.

One man, 26-year-old Jihad Abu Alia, was fatally shot during the three-hour raid on al-Mughayir, the mayor said. Seven homes were completely burnt out, and 20 vehicles belonging to residents were set on fire.

New Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa condemned the attacks and called on local authorities to support people in al-Mughayir.

Footage shared by Quds News Network of the incident in al-Mughayir on Friday showed burnt-out cars and trucks and singed buildings. Videos, which could not be verified independently, showed dozens of male settlers coming down the track to the village, some throwing objects.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said its ambulances were prevented from reaching the area by Israeli army vehicles blocking the roads. PRCS said it treated 25 people, including eight people with gunshot wounds at al-Mughayir.

The settlers were allegedly searching for a young Israeli settler who had gone missing, according to an Israeli rights group.

Elsewhere on Friday, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians,  later identified as Mohammed Rasoul and Mohammad Issam al-Shahmawi, during heavy raids on camps near Tubas.

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, urged the UN to "authorize the deployment of a protective presence in the occupied Palestinian territory, with the explicit mandate to prevent and (repel) attacks against civilians."

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"The Israeli army has abundantly proven unwilling or unable to ensure that task," she wrote on X.

Israel has implemented a military occupation in the West Bank since the 1967 war, imposing restrictions on Palestinians and advancing the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory.

Last month, the Israeli government approved plans for more than 3,400 new homes to be built in settlements in the occupied West Bank. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is overseeing the plans, said that a total of 18,515 homes had been approved over the past year.

Earlier this year, the UK and US governments imposed sanctions on a handful of extremist settlers for the first time, accusing them of undermining stability.

Over 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Amnesty International.