Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians "has been on the rise since the beginning of 2017", a United Nations agency reported this week.
According to UN OCHA, between January and April 2018, officials documented 84 incidents attributed to Israeli settlers resulting either in Palestinian casualties (27 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (57 incidents).
As a monthly average, the agency added, this is "the highest level of incidents recorded since the end of 2014", and a 50 and 162 per cent increase compared with 2017 and 2016 respectively.
UN OCHA noted that – "as in previous years" – the Nablus governorate "accounted for the highest number of incidents", with 35 in total, "of which 20 took place in six Palestinian communities surrounding the settlement of Yitzhar and its adjacent outposts".
These communities – Burin, Madama, Asira Al-Qibliya, Urif, Einabous and Huwara – and their roughly 21,000 residents, "have been affected for years by settler intimidation and violence, which have undermined their safety and livelihoods", UN OCHA added.
The most frequent types of settler incident "involved stone-throwing at Palestinian homes and vehicles (21 incidents); physical assault (18 incidents); vandalising of trees and other agricultural property (18 incidents); and vandalising of vehicles and painting of graffiti (13 incidents)".
UN OCHA also highlighted how these figures "exclude incidents entailing settler raids and other entries into Palestinian communities or private property, which did not result in casualties or damage by the settlers themselves."
However, these incidents often "led to the intervention of Israeli forces, which in turn led to clashes with local residents and ended in additional Palestinian casualties". Between January and April this year, 28 settler raids sparked clashes with Israeli forces, who killed one Palestinian and injured 277.
UN OCHA reaffirmed that, "as the occupying power", Israel "has the obligation to protect Palestinian civilians from all acts or threats of violence, including by Israeli settlers, and ensure that attacks are investigated effectively and perpetrators held accountable."
Crushed Livelihood: 800,000 olive trees uprooted by Israeli forces and settlers pic.twitter.com/KJ3MLV4ef7
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) January 6, 2016