Dangerous mobs of extremist Jewish settlers have been rampaging through towns and villages in the occupied West Bank attacking Palestinians and their homes, shops, farms and vehicles, including ambulances. Cars with Palestinian number plates have had stones thrown at them by settlers on road between Nablus and Ramallah.
According to Wafa, the settler attacks reached a peak on Wednesday evening when an Al Jazeera journalist reported that 400 armed settlers attacked the small town of Turmus Ayya, setting fire to homes, cars and farmland. One Palestinian resident was killed and dozens more were wounded.
“All the attacks were carried out by armed Jewish settlers backed by the Israeli occupation army,” one resident told Al Jazeera, “which raided the village and attacked the Palestinians instead of deterring the brutal settlers.”
The “appalling” settler attacks have been condemned by the Palestinian Authority and world leaders. There have been international calls for action to be taken against the settlers, and for them to be held accountable. One PA official called for the formation of popular defence committees to protect people from settler violence.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves against the crimes of the Jewish settlers and the Israeli occupation forces. His Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh described the attacks as “barbaric” and said that they “reflect the Israeli mentality of violence and murder” before calling for an end to this “farce.”
The US Office of Palestinian Affairs said that it is “appalled” at ongoing settler attacks in Turmus Ayya and other villages resulting in a civilian death, injuries and property damage. “We call for the Israeli authorities to immediately stop the violence, protect US and Palestinian civilians, and prosecute those responsible.”
The British Consulate in Jerusalem tweeted: “Appalling scenes in the West Bank town of Turmus Ayya, where Palestinians have been attacked and property destroyed by Israeli settlers… This cycle of violence must end. Perpetrators of crimes must be held to account.”
Similar condemnation came from the European Union: “We condemn the current outbreak of settler violence across the West Bank, resulting in unacceptable indiscriminate violence against Palestinian civilians and the destruction of Palestinian property. We recall that Israel has the obligation to ensure the protection of Palestinian civilians in the occupied territory.”
Such comments are nothing new, and yet the Palestinians have experienced extreme brutality at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces and illegal settlers for more than seven decades. Condemnations from the international community are steeped in hypocrisy and, given the support that the US, the EU and Britain give to the apartheid state, do nothing to stop Israel’s violence. The state and its Jewish citizens, especially settlers, are allowed to act against Palestinians with impunity, and yet settlers and the settlements in which they live are illegal under international law.
The people of occupied Palestine are not alone in recognising the futility of international condemnation of settler attacks which isn’t backed up by action to stop them. UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, is on record as saying: “Palestinians under Israeli occupation do need protection. Brutality, coming either from Israeli settlers or from the army will not stop, simply because the system is not designed to protect the Palestinians. Rather the contrary.” She insisted that, “Mere words of condemnation are meaningless.”
Enough is enough. We have heard such “meaningless” words from the world for decades. Governments and officials who call for an end to Israeli aggression against the Palestinians are the same governments and officials which back Israel in imposing blockades on Palestinians, whether in the occupied West Bank or the Gaza Strip. They turn a collective blind eye to the numerous UN resolutions calling for Israel to follow international laws and conventions regarding the Palestinians and their legitimate rights.
These hypocrites don’t dare to add Israel to the UN blacklist of human rights abusers and the UN list of those who abuse children’s rights, despite the fact that Israel has killed a Palestinian child every three days on average for more than 20 years. Even the labelling of goods produced in Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land is too much for the hypocrites in Western capitals, many of whom are making it illegal to boycott such goods and the companies which profit from them.
While calling for the protection of the Palestinians, these world leaders are complicit in Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. They arm Israel and provide it with political and diplomatic cover at the UN and other forums.
Sadly, the Palestinian Authority is almost as guilty. No amount of calls for the protection of the Palestinian people and for Israel’s impunity to be ended, as well as recognition of the legitimate right of the Palestinians to defend themselves, can disguise the fact that the PA security forces collaborate with their Israeli counterparts against the same Palestinian people. There are dozens of Palestinian activists in PA jails, but the authority’s 70,000+ PA security personnel are not there to protect Palestinians; they exist to protect the Israeli occupation.
This was made very clear when the PA prime minister visited Turmus Ayya and was asked by local residents why PA security officers were nowhere to be seen when the settlers attacked. “Raise green Hamas flags,” said one resident, “then, you will find [PA security forces] storming the village in a minute.”
It is clear to us all that words do not return of fulfil legitimate rights, but legitimate resistance to Israel’s brutal military occupation does. The Palestinians believe in this, but world leaders and their Palestinian collaborators in Ramallah do not want the Palestinians to be able to exercise their legitimate rights. History, though, teaches us that all occupations come to an end sooner or later, and that the oppressed will be victorious. No amount of hypocrisy on the world stage will protect the settler-colonial state forever.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.