Three former Israeli army commanders have warned that the increasing settler violence in the occupied West Bank might ignite a Third Intifada, Haaretz reported yesterday.
The newspaper did not name the commanders, but said they are members of the movement Commanders for Israel’s Security, which includes retired officials from the Israeli army, Shin Bet, Mossad and Israel Police.
“Uncontrolled violence of extremist settlers undermines the deterrence of the Israeli army,” the letter warned.
Settlers, the army officials said, use “organised collective violence and defy sovereignty and law of the state.”
At the same time, they noted that the settlers’ violence reached a “critical point” and aroused sharp criticism “not only from opponents, but from friends, including the administration and Congress in Washington, as well as the Jewish community in the US.”
The retired commanders warned that the “chaotic and violent situation in the West Bank might arouse a response from the friendly Arab leaders – in Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States.”
According to Haaretz, the commanders warned that the settler violence would harm normalisation efforts with Arab and Muslim countries, and would have “destructive” consequences. It may also force Palestinians to feel desperate to the degree that they form groups to defend themselves, which could lead to a Third Intifada.
“Settlers’ violence is unacceptable at the moral level,” they said, calling for the political and security leadership in Israel “to immediately, forcibly and decisively stop this phenomenon.”
In November, UN human rights experts said: “Settler violence has always been an extremely disturbing feature of the Israeli occupation.” They added: “But in 2021, we are witnessing the highest recorded levels of violence in recent years and more severe incidents.”
“The Israeli Government and its military have done far too little to curb this violence and to protect the Palestinians under siege,” they continued.