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UN acknowledges and normalises of settler colonialism in Hebron

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published a fact sheet detailing the ramifications of settler-colonialism in Hebron. ‘The Humanitarian Impact of Israeli Settlements in Hebron City’ report summarises the restrictions and challenges faced by Palestinians, including the absence of law enforcement against settler violence. While depicting the harrowing reality endured by Palestinians, Israel is only reminded that settlements are illegal under international law, ensuring a continuation of the cycle which deplores settlement activity but refrains from any action that would hold Israel accountable for its violations.


Statistics show that the community of 40,000 Palestinians living in the area controlled by Israel known as H2, are facing continuous restrictions as a result of the four established settlements. A final decision on the possibility of a fifth settlement is pending before the Israeli High Court. The case concerns the ownership of Rajabi House, occupied by settler families in 2007. Palestinians have been subjected to a systematic restriction of access to basic services such as education, water and healthcare. Businesses have been forced to close due to restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinians. The deterioration of liberty, compounded by settler violence, has resulted in displacement and abandonment of property – consequences of the illegality which Israel justifies under the pretext of security concerns for settlers whose violence against Palestinians is condoned by the military.

An update by the International Solidarity Movement on November 10 illustrated the dynamics between settler violence and the Israeli military during routine intimidation by settlers, who attempted to damage olive trees on Palestinian land. In retaliation for opposing the settler attack, Israeli authorities confiscated part of the land for ‘governance use’, effectively allowing settlers to construct dwellings on Palestinian property. The update also describes how Palestinians resisting settler incursions have been arrested for filming the entrance of settlers on Palestinian land.

The fact sheet summarises an acknowledgement of settler violence without concentrating on the need to hold Israel accountable. A reference to the report by the UN Secretary General dated October 9 on the illegality of settlements is included, however the conclusions and recommendations in the report are solely a reiteration of rhetoric which Israel has continued to disregard. “Israel, as the occupying power, must take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of Palestinians and their property from acts of violence, including through preventive measures…Individuals who are responsible for violations should be prosecuted and victims should be provided with an effective remedy.”

The UN has normalised settler violence by regularly upholding Israel’s alleged security concerns and affirming recognition of the colonising power. There is a discrepancy in pleading with Israel to abide by international law, when the United Nations itself is making convenient distinctions between settler violence and settler colonialism, ignoring the correlation by consistently affirming Israel’s right to protect itself. Unless a proper analysis of the manipulation within Israel’s justifications of security concerns is undertaken, the reality of settler terror will remain incarcerated within the study of statistics – a mere embellishment for the shallow satisfaction of authorities embarking upon a mission to evade accountability.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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