The West Bank has seen an “alarming” rise in attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in recent weeks, according to a Friday report.
The Haaretz daily reported there had been over 100 cases of nationalistic crimes by Jewish settlers, mostly in the northern West Bank, in the last 10 days.
The report did not define what was classified as an individual incident.
“In recent weeks, the security establishment has identified an alarming increase in acts of violence by settlers throughout the West Bank,” the report said.
Settlers have been seen attacking Palestinian civilians, homes, and storefronts in the town of Huwara close to Nablus, reportedly after Israeli vehicles driving through the area have come under stone-throwing attacks.
Tensions in Huwara and the surrounding area have ratcheted up in recent weeks, with Israel’s military placing a cordon around Nablus to crack down on a loosely-organized terror group known as Lion’s Den, which has claimed near-nightly attacks on troops and civilians.
Huwara sits on a main road used by both settlers and Palestinians, and there have been frequent rock-throwing attacks against Israeli cars in the area.
Early Thursday, Israeli settlers attacked Israeli troops who were attempting to stop them from hurling stones at Palestinian vehicles in the town.
תיעוד: מתנחלים תוקפים לוחמים מגדוד 202 של הצנחנים בחווארה בשומרון pic.twitter.com/UxyQHu56a1
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) October 20, 2022
The incident came under widespread condemnation by officials across the political spectrum.
The off-duty soldier arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack was released to house arrest on Friday morning.
An anonymous security source told Haaretz that contrary to public statements by Israeli officials saying that the violent settlers are a small group known to law enforcement, the reality is that there are a large number of settlers involved in such attacks.
“Older people also arrive, women with children and just start rioting,” the source told the paper.
Haaretz also cited officials at the military’s Central Command, who claimed the recent attacks are part of a campaign by settler leaders to create a sense that the army is losing control in the West Bank, as Israel nears its November election.
Last week, a group of Jewish settlers rampaged through Huwara, attacking shops and residents with stones and iron bars, according to Palestinian reports and video from the scene. Over 40 Palestinians were reported wounded.
Footage from the scene showed young settlers brandishing clubs as they ran through the streets and approached shopkeepers. At one point, a shopkeeper with his back against a wall swung a stick at a group of youths, while a second Palestinian threw a stone at them. Soldiers fired into the air and stood next to a group of settlers, apparently trying to keep the groups separated.
תיעוד של התקפת המתנחלים בחווארה היום (צילום: אורן זיו) pic.twitter.com/BzeSvVVs2z
— שיחה מקומית (@mekomit) October 13, 2022
The IDF was also probing an incident where a soldier opened fire at Palestinian homes in Huwara after his car was damaged in a rock attack last Friday.
The area is home to a number of hardline settlements, whose residents often intimidate Palestinians and vandalize their property. Settlers have also accused the military of not doing enough to protect them.
Meanwhile, in the southern West Bank, settlers fought with Palestinians and Israeli activists during the annual olive harvest on Wednesday.
Masked settlers hurled stones and assaulted volunteers and Palestinians harvesting olives, footage showed, while a settlement group said the Palestinians had approached a settlement, issued threats and injured three residents in a deliberate provocation.
An anti-terror offensive launched earlier this year and focused on the northern West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids.
It has also left over 120 Palestinians dead, many of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.
The IDF’s anti-terror offensive in the West Bank was launched following a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people earlier this year. Another Israeli was killed in a suspected attack last month, and four soldiers have been killed in the West Bank in attacks and during the arrest operations.