Back Politics Settler terror in the West Bank escalates out of control

Settler terror in the West Bank escalates out of control

Settler terror in the West Bank escalates out of controlIn adhering to a systematic oppression of violence against Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it would seem that Israel has allowed impunity to transcend any concept of international human rights law.  Violence orchestrated by Jewish settlers, a common occurrence discussed in the PLO's publication entitled 'Settler Violence and Israeli Incitement: A Culture of Hate', has left Palestinians in the Occupied Territories vulnerable to numerous attacks. This has serious consequences for the welfare of families and communities living under Israel's belligerent occupation.

As an occupying power, Israel is obliged to protect Palestinians, as established in the Fourth Geneva Convention. Instead of complying with international obligations, Israel has sanctioned various forms of terrorism and established a trend of impunity in favour of Jewish settlers. According to the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, Israel provides funding for racist settlers to incite violence against Palestinians.

Palestinian livelihood is already treacherously compromised by apartheid practices. To further the illegal establishment and consolidation of the Israeli state, economic benefits in the form of subsidies, education budgets and tax breaks are offered by the government as an incentive for Jews living in the OPTs. It seems as if, in return for financial advantages, settlers have emulated the violent behaviour of Israeli soldiers. Palestinians suffer extreme settler violence in the form of arson attacks, destruction of property and vehicles, attacks on civilians, shootings, uprooting and damaging of trees, as well as forced displacement.

According to UN, 90% of reported complaints are closed without any indictments against Israeli settlers. Communities at risk are also thought to have offered a form of ideological resistance against Israeli settlements; hence settlers are portrayed as displaying 'good citizenship' in helping Israeli forces carry out their atrocities against Palestinians.

The PLO publication states that the Oslo Accords and security coordination with Israel have been pivotal factors in determining the trend of attacks. However, distorted narratives by Israel seek to imply that confrontation between the two factions is independent of its endorsed policy of hatred and discrimination towards Palestinians which results in the terror attacks known as 'Price Tag'. These attacks are sanctioned by the Israeli government and serve to entrench apartheid practices with the aim of further land seizure in order to fulfil racist Zionist policies.

The international community's reaction to such violence has been predictable. Reports, statements and 'conclusions' have all led to verbal condemnations of Israeli aggression. An EU report confirmed the existence of settler violence and the lack of a widespread response from Palestinians. It also sought to provide frail reassurances reminding the international community that it has repeatedly condemned settler violence. The UN Human Rights Council's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2012 declared itself 'extremely concerned' about the resulting segregation and urged Israel 'to prohibit and eradicate any such policies or practices which severely and disproportionately affect the Palestinian population'. Yet, the absence of any punitive action has resonated in a contradictory manner. The international community, including the UN, has failed to hold Israel accountable for its colonial and apartheid violence. All the rhetoric about abiding by international human rights law continues to be applied selectively - according to country, profit, exploitation and the strength of ally ties.

The Israeli government is supported by Zionist propaganda from certain Rabbis, such as Yitzhak Ginzburg and Yitzhak Shapira, who have advocated the killing of non-Jews. According to Shapira, the killing of children is permissible based on hypothetical irrationality; “There is justification in harming [non-Jewish] infants if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us. Under such circumstances the blow can be directed at them and not only by targeting adults.”

Meanwhile, the testimonies of children and families subjected to beating, stone throwing, shooting and destruction remain suffocated by the guardians of human rights. Israelis claim to be terrified by the sound of a siren. Palestinians live through the reality of sanctioned terror with the knowledge that human rights, as designated by Israel and its allies, have been reduced to bargaining tools in the name of security.


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