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Ex-Israel soldiers demand end to settler violence against Palestinians

Israeli settlers in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah react as Palestinian and Israeli activists chant slogans in front of their house during a demonstration against the expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on 16 April 2021. [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli settlers in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem on 16 April 2021. [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]

As many as 100 Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied West Bank demanded Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Internal Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev put an end to Jewish settler violence against the Palestinians, Anadolu reported.

"We, the undersigned, male and female soldiers who had served in the West Bank, call on you to act firmly against settler violence," the soldiers. The violence perpetrated by the settlers against Palestinians has increased with the implicit support of the Israeli state for years, the letter said. "We are the ones serving there and we have personally seen how that violence happened on the field," they added.

The phenomenon of settler violence manifested and intensified last year, they said, and has manifested in "damage to private property, stone throwing, physical violence against Palestinians and attacks on activists and [Israeli] security forces," the former soldiers said, adding: "We were sent to defend them [Jewish settlers], but we had no means to withstand them."

The soldiers told reporters later that data from the Israeli Ministry of Defence shows that 370 incidents of violence perpetrated by Jewish settlers in the West Bank were reported in 2020, 42 of them against Israeli police and soldiers.

READ: Israel settlers evacuate illegal outpost as gov't tries to legalise it

Palestinians say that the Israeli authorities overlook the settlers' attacks, as part of official efforts to intensify settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli human rights movement Peace Now says that there are about 650,000 settlers in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, living in 164 illegal settlements and 116 illegal outposts.

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