Israeli state and settler violence grows in West Bank

The so-called truce did not end the violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, where Israeli settlers and troops are terrorising and killing with impunity.

Raids, arrests, murders and the destruction of life sustaining infrastructure shows Israel’s intent on ethnically cleansing not only Gaza but the West Bank as well.

“You wanted war, so wait for the Great Nakba,” read leaflets distributed by Israeli settlers in one West Bank village. Settlers are fulfilling their threat of a second Nakba, the catastrophe inflicted by Israel which displaced 850,000 Palestinians from their homes during the establishment of Israel.

While the media portray this as a war started by Hamas on 7 October, the effort to drive Palestinians off their land to make way for Israeli settlements started 75 years ago and has not stopped since.

Settler violence, which was already at record levels, has escalated dramatically to seven attacks a day according to Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In more than a third of these attacks, firearms were used.

Attacks have resulted in the murder of 239 Palestinians, including 52 children, since 7 October.

“Since 7 October, the Israeli army has arrested over 3000 people. We don’t know where they are. We don’t know if they are alive or tortured to death,” a Palestinian who lives near Jerusalem told Socialist Worker.

Nearly 800 Palestinians have been driven out of their homes and communities in the West Bank, according to UN monitoring group OCHA.

“Every night, the army is invading towns and cities. Nothing will stop it. We are under the complete control of the Israeli military. More people are being arrested, and it is killing people every day.”

Israeli forces have besieged the city of Jenin in the West Bank. In late November Israeli soldiers killed five Palestinians after they surrounded and raided the Jenin Governmental Hospital. Eight others were murdered the following day including a 14-year-old. Soldiers also demolished homes, uprooted Palestinians olive trees, destroyed water sources and bulldozed land in the village of Birin.

Settlers are also increasingly confident to attack Palestinians and drive them off the land. They have carried out nearly 170 attacks against Palestinians since 7 October, according to OCHA.

Two of those killed by Israeli settlers in the Qusra village in the West Bank were father Ibrahim Wadi and son Ahmed. They were attending the funeral of another person shot by settlers a few days earlier, when settlers blocked the funeral procession and shot them.

Netanyahu’s government has encouraged this violence. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has distributed 10,000 firearms to volunteer security squads and ordered the loosening of regulations on Israeli civilians acquiring firearms.

All this is aimed at pushing Palestinians from their land. In South Hebron Hills the Safi family has been just one of hundreds forced from their homes and farms in Khirbet al-Ratheem due to threat of settler violence. “We were threatened at gunpoint after they vandalised our properties,” Abu Safi, told OCHA. “Leaving was the only option for me to protect my family.”

Since 1967 700,000 settlers have taken up land through forced evictions and displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Apartheid policies mean Palestinians are not allowed to enter the heavily guarded settlements unless they have been pre-approved, usually as gardeners, cleaners and construction workers.

Criminalising resistance

The release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails as a result of hostage negotiations has created a brief moment of joy. Some families and friends were reunited after over seven years.

But at the same time Israel has arrested almost as many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank again. Around 8000 Palestinians remain in Israeli custody, including more than 2200 held without charge or trial, enduring cruelty and torture in detention.

In 1970 the Israeli government established military courts, essentially outlawing all forms of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation as “terrorism”. Since the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000, Israel has detained more than 12,000 Palestinian children. The most common charge is throwing stones, punishable with a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Israel is not acting in self-defence but attempting to realise the complete ethnic cleansing of all of historic Palestine.

But the Israeli army has come up against fierce Palestinian resistance in places like Jenin. The resistance planted homemade bombs on Israeli military vehicles that were being used to invade the town. The scale of the solidarity with Palestine must continue and grow in order to end the ethnic cleansing, end Israeli occupation and apartheid and win the right to return for all Palestinians to their homeland.

By Jordi Pardoel

Magazine

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