Unprecedented Violence by Settlers Against Palestinians in the West Bank
Amid the war and the horrific offensive by Hamas in the South, as the media's attention is focused on the conflict in Gaza, unprecedented violent attacks by settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank are taking place. Entire communities are being forcibly evicted from their homes through violence, threats, and property destruction. Although the military authorities are aware of these events, they take no action to stop the violence. In certain cases, representatives of the security forces have explicitly stated that they have no intention of assisting the Palestinians.
Together with other human rights organizations, we have appealed to the members of the State Security Cabinet, the Chief of Staff, and the Commissioner of the Police, demanding an end to the settlers' rampage in the West Bank. In our letter, we detailed numerous incidents of harm to innocent Palestinians and their property, ranging from live fire directed at Palestinians to threats that, if not heeded, would result in harm to them. We called on the government to act in accordance with international law: to immediately protect the Palestinians from the rampant violence by the settlers and to allow the displaced individuals to return to their homes.
On October 29, 2023, we joined 30 human rights organizations in an urgent call to the international community to take immediate action to stop the wave of violence by settlers, leading to the forced expulsion of entire Palestinian communities from their lands. The appeal stated that since the outbreak of the war, at least 13 peaceful communities were uprooted, and seven Palestinians were killed. The government is not acting to stop the violence, and in many cases, the army is present during the events and even participates in them.
On the same day, we urgently appealed again to the limited cabinet members, the Chief of Staff, the head of the Shin Bet, and the Police Commissioner, detailing another 108 incidents of violence against Palestinians that have occurred in the West Bank since the previous submission. The appeal stated that "the violent attacks by settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank have so far claimed the lives of 7 Palestinians, led to the forced expulsion of 896 people from 15 different communities, and caused immense damage to property, infrastructure, agricultural equipment, herds, trees, and fields[...] Since the beginning of the war, nearly 200 violent incidents have occurred—an average of 8 incidents per day—a record unprecedented in its scope and severity."
On November 9, 2023, we addressed (Hebrew, for English download the PDF below) the Commander of the Central Command, urging the army forces in the area to immediately halt the forced expulsion of Bedouin communities from their homes by violent settlers and to allow the return of communities that were forced to leave, while preserving their lives and property. The submission detailed a list of 15 communities where all residents—874 people—were forcibly removed from their homes, and six additional communities where some families left under threat while the rest of the community remained threatened. In the submission, attorney Roni Peleg emphasized that the army's policy of abandonment violates the obligation to protect protected persons from violence and threats and the prohibition on systematic transfer of protected persons, both established by the Fourth Geneva Convention."
Due to the lack of response, on November 21, 2023, together with Yesh Din, B'Tselem, and Bimkom, we sent a reminder and update (attached below) to the Prime Minister, Ministers Galant, Gantz, and Eizenkot, the Chief of Staff, the head of the Shin Bet, and the Commissioner of Police. The letter included a list of 90 additional incidents, which, together with the previous ones, contribute to an unprecedented peak of 283 violent incidents since October 7, 2023.
Appeal, October 16, 2023 (Hebrew)