Rights group reports over 100 assaults by settlers on Palestinians since war’s start

Yesh Din says Israelis living in the West Bank have shot Palestinians, damaged their property and displaced shepherding communities, with none detained

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

A Palestinian man inspects the damage to a store in the village of Huwara in the  West Bank on October 6, 2023, after an overnight attack by Israeli settlers. (Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)
A Palestinian man inspects the damage to a store in the village of Huwara in the West Bank on October 6, 2023, after an overnight attack by Israeli settlers. (Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Israeli settlers in the West Bank have committed over 100 assaults against Palestinians since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, sometimes under the protection of soldiers, the human rights group Yesh Din alleged Tuesday.

The attacks have allegedly taken place in at least 62 West Bank locations and have caused the death of at least six Palestinians by live fire.

Four Palestinians were killed in clashes with settlers in the West Bank village of Qusra, close to Nablus, on October 11, and two more were gunned down the following day when settlers allegedly opened fire on a funeral procession.

Yesh Din said that in various incidents, settlers have stolen Palestinian property such as solar panels and generators, and carried out acts of vandalism such as torching homes and vehicles and uprooting trees. The group claimed that not a single settler has been detained, arrested or investigated following the assaults. The police did not respond to a request for comment.

It said settler violence is frequently aimed at displacing Palestinian communities in a bid to take control of their homes and lands. Entire shepherding communities have been forced to evacuate since the beginning of the year in response to an uptick in settler violence, according to the group.

The latest village to be abandoned was Wadi Seek, home to around 200 people, in the central West Bank. On October 12, witnesses said that settlers entered the village and opened fire on the remaining residents, after women and children had already been evacuated. Three Palestinians were reportedly wounded.

Neither COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for civilian affairs, nor the Israeli military responded to requests for comment.

In Ein Shabli, a village in the Jordan Valley, most of the few dozen residents fled over the past weeks after allegedly being threatened by settlers, some of them armed, Yesh Din said. Neither the police nor the army could confirm the claim.

Some of the locals said that since the start of the war they received phone calls from people posing as Shin Bet agents or police officers, threatening a violent escalation in view of the ongoing war in Gaza and urging them to vacate their places of residence within days or hours, according to Haaretz.

The Palestinian Authority health ministry reported that since the start of the war on October 7, at least 96 West Bank Palestinians have been killed, mainly in clashes with soldiers. The Israel Defense Forces says troops have arrested 800 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 500 affiliated with Hamas.

War between Israel and Hamas began when the terror group abruptly launched a ground, air, and sea assault from the Gaza Strip on the Jewish state. Under the cover of a barrage of thousands of rockets, over 2,500 gunmen crossed the border and rampaged murderously through southern towns, killing more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, and abducting more than 200.

Some 200,000 Israelis have been displaced from both the south and the north, which has also come under rocket barrages from the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group.

Israel has responded with intensive strikes on Hamas targets, while vowing to destroy the terror group and remove it from power in Gaza, where it has ruled since 2007.

According to unverified numbers cited by the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, over 5,700 Gazans have been killed in the Israeli air campaign. The number of terror operatives among them is unknown.

Emanuel Fabian and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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