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Israel incites settler violence to ethnically cleanse West Bank

· 4 min read

Israel incites settler violence to ethnically cleanse West Bank

TEHRAN - Brutal settler violence has sharply escalated in the occupied West Bank since Israel launched war on the Gaza Strip on October 7.

Israel incites settler violence to ethnically cleanse West Bank

The latest deadly setter attack took place in the Palestinian village of Al-Mughayyir located in the east of Ramallah.

Hundreds of armed Israeli settlers stormed the village on Friday and set fire to Palestinian homes and cars. 

One Palestinian man was killed by gunfire. More than two dozen others were injured in the rampage. 

The deceased Palestinian has been identified as 26-year-old Jehad Abu Alia. It is not yet clear whether he was shot by settlers or Israeli forces who were present at the scene. 

The head of the village’s council estimated that up to 1,200 settlers surrounded the rural area and around 500 stormed it. 

Amin Abu-Alia told CNN that the settlers raided homes and fired guns at residents.

He added that the Israeli military arrived at the scene but did not stop the settlers from attacking the village. 

“Instead, Israeli soldiers allowed them to raid homes, prevented Palestinian residents from moving around and blocked ambulances from reaching the injured,” he said. 

An Israeli rights group confirmed that the settlers shot and set houses on fire in the village.

Yesh Din posted videos on social media that showed dark clouds of smoke billowing from burning cars as gunshots rang out.

It said the settlers were searching for a missing male teen from their settlement.

According to Israeli media, 14-year-old Benjamin Achimeir had disappeared after leaving the settler outpost of Malachei Shalom early on Friday. 

The Israeli army said on Saturday that it had found the missing boy’s body.  

Following Friday’s fatal attack on Al-Mughayyir, Israeli settlers and soldiers have resorted to violence against Palestinians in some other villages and towns in the West Bank. 

In the first 10 months of last year, the United Nations recorded at least 1,038 incidents of setter violence. This is an average of three attacks per day. The same figure has nearly tripled since Israel launched its genocidal war on Gaza in early October. 

The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces or settlers have killed more than 460 Palestinians in the West Bank since the Gaza war erupted. 

According to an Israeli watchdog, settlers killed at least 10 Palestinians and torched dozens of homes in the West Bank last year.  Yesh Din says this marked 2023 “the most violent year in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank in both the number of incidents and their severity.”

Israel has built about 160 settlements since it occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. Some 700,000 Jews live in these settlements. 

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. 

European countries including the UK and France have denounced settler violence in several statements but they have fallen short of taking any practical measures to halt assaults against Palestinian people.

The recent sanctions against individual violent settlers imposed by the U.S., UK, France and other states are just a smokescreen to divert attention from Israel’s atrocities in Gaza. 

Settler violence is a central part of Israel’s policy. The regime seeks to ethnically cleanse the occupied West Bank and displace Palestinian people to establish full sovereignty over it and enable settlement expansion. 

Israeli officials have openly incited settlers to commit violent acts against Palestinians. 

In 2023, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for the Palestinian town of Huwara to be wiped out.

Barbaric and brutal violence against Palestinians will continue to occur as long as settlers enjoy widespread impunity in the wake of Western countries’ inaction.