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Israel: Shin Bet warns government about surge in settler violence in occupied West Bank

October 30, 2023 at 4:18 pm

Head of Israeli Shin Bet intelligence agency Ronen Bar [@DaysOfPal/Twitter]

Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency has expressed its concerns to the government about the surge in settler violence against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since the start of the current conflict on 7 October.

According to Channel 12, the head of Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, has notified the Israeli war cabinet, broader cabinet and the defence establishment regarding this issue.

Moreover, the US and EU have also cautioned that the West Bank is on the brink of unrest, stating “incidents are likely to set the area alight.”

Channel 12 further reported that some Israeli decision-makers are encouraging far-right ministers, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, to assume responsibility and work towards de-escalation. The two ministers have previously justified Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians as acts of self-defence and have shown reluctance to take measures against such actions.

The concerns come after Bar and army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi discussed the matter of settler violence during the war cabinet meeting on Saturday. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant responded that, “The phenomenon is known. We need to make sure that the area is not inflamed.” He added that most of the violence is being perpetrated by Israelis who don’t live in the settlements, all of which are illegal under international law.

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Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din confirmed last week that extremist Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank protected by Israeli soldiers have carried out more than 100 attacks against Palestinians since 7 October. The attacks are reported to have taken place in 62 different locations in the West Bank.

Four Palestinians were killed during attacks by settlers in the town of Qusra, south of Nablus, on 11 October. Another two were shot and killed after Israeli settlers attacked the funeral procession of the first four who were killed.

The Palestinian Health Ministry announced today that at least 122 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank since 7 October.

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