Israeli settlers and soldiers unleash a new Nakba in the West Bank

Photo: Armed Israeli settlers, accompanied by soldiers, threaten Palestinian farmers on West Bank. Credit: B’Tselem: Basel al-‘Adrah.

With international attention riveted on Gaza, the Israeli military and illegal settlers are unleashing a second Nakba, or Palestinan expulsion, in the West Bank. Palestinians have been bombed from the air, attacked and shot to death by Israeli settlers and soldiers, and forced out of their homes and off their land.

At least 178 Palestinians have been killed there since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, including 41 children. The residents of 15 communities have been forced off their lands by settlers under threat of death.

On Nov. 8 alone, 15 Palestinians were killed and at least 20 others were injured by Israeli forces in a raid on Jenin and its refugee camp, and in other Palestinian towns and camps in the occupied West Bank, according to the Health Ministry.

“Israeli forces know no bounds and are empowered to shoot to kill Palestinians, including children, and now, as a matter of routine … kill Palestinian children,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at Defense for Children In Palestine. The death toll for murdered children in the West Bank continues to rise daily, he said. 

He continued, “We are witnessing attacks against Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory as Israeli forces and settlers are emboldened by systemic impunity and international support to commit war crimes on a whim.”

Zionist settlers on a rampage

The West Bank is home to more than three million Palestinians. They have been forcibly pushed off their land since the beginning of the 1967 Israeli occupation, and have suffered from settler violence since the very beginning. Despite Israeli settlements being illegal and internationally condemned, more than 700,000 settlers now occupy the West Bank. The Israeli government promised to halt expansion when the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, but has looked the other way as they were expanded back then and has sanctioned news ones since 2017.

Now, however, the settlers are on a full rampage with the help and protection of the Israeli army. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported that now “settler networks on social media are awash with incitement and vitriol against Palestinians … [who] know from experience, that the danger is not merely theoretical but real.” 

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there have been more than 208 settler attacks in the West Bank since Oct. 7, with a third of these including “threats with firearms, including shootings.”

Zionist setters are known to routinely attack farmers, kill their herds, shoot at them when they are harvesting their crops and burn their property. Now, settlers are giving these farmers an ultimatum to leave their homes or be killed. Since Oct. 7, according to B’Tselem, at least 15 herding Palestinian communities have been displaced.

With the annual olive harvest season beginning in October, settlers have been stealing and damaging olive trees. They also carried out the horrific execution of Palestinian farmer Bilal Saleh on Oct. 28, captured on video, when he was collecting olives from his ancestral grove. Palestinians rely on this seasonal crop for their annual income. This means that the settlers’ attacks deprives them of any agency to survive while raining down bullets on them, leaving Palestinians no choice but to flee for their lives.

Settlers and soldiers work hand-in-hand

OCHA reports that, since Oct. 7, “In nearly half of these incidents, Israeli forces were either accompanying or actively supporting the attackers.” The settlers have long been an extrajudicial arm of the Israeli regime, doing what the government does not want to take official responsibility for. In the current ultra-right government, however, this relationship is open. The minister in charge of settlement policy is Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the far-right Religious Zionist party who is himself a settler extremist. After settlers attacked the Palestinian town of Huwara in February, Smotrich said, “I think that Huwara needs to be erased.”

On Oct. 10, the ultra-nationalist Zionist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir distributed 10,000 U.S.-supplied assault rifles, helmets and body armor for “civilian security teams” to be used by settlers against Palestinians not only in the West Bank, but also to attack and displace Palestinians in mixed Jewish-Palestinian cities within the Israeli green line.

Palestinians on lockdown while settlers run riot

Since last month, Israeli forces have put Palestinians under a lockdown, while allowing settlers to travel freely in the West Bank to hunt them down. Palestinians require Israeli permits to travel and access their own lands and are imprisoned by the Israeli separation barrier, which the world knows as the apartheid wall.

Palestinians are also blocked from accessing the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem, violating their religious rights to attend the third most important shrine in Islam. The IDF is attacking worshipers who are praying in the streets, having been denied access to the mosque.

Settlers and soldiers even detained for six hours and tortured Palestinian Authority officials visiting the area.

Israeli forces and settlers have been committing “necroviolence.’ The regime prevents proper burial rites for Palestinian martyrs by withholding bodies, while settlers actively seek out and attack funeral processions. Due to the movement restriction, local mosques are being used to hold bodies of Palestinians killed in areas in the West Bank.

Israeli forces are repeatedly invading and terrorizing Palestinian West Bank refugee camps — a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions.

DCIP said U.S.-supplied Apache helicopters area being used to bomb ambulances and prevent them from getting to the wounded. Humanitarian organization, Doctors of the World, raised the urgent alarm that the unfathomable violence against Palestinians by Israeli forces and settlers alike is becoming a dire public health and humanitarian crisis.

Ahed Tamimi detained

Israel also intensified its detention campaign against political prisoners by storming villages and arresting people en masse. Over the last month, Israeli forces detained over 2,200 Palestinians from the West Bank alone. This also includes longtime and internationally known activist, 22-year old Ahed Tamimi, who was forcibly detained over vague charges of “inciting terrorism.” Tamimi’s father, Bassem Tamimi was also arrested and his whereabouts are still unknown. Most prisoners are held without due process, trial or legitimate charges.

With guerilla resistance continuing in Gaza, Palestinians in the West Bank are also resisting Israel’s apartheid regime in every way that they can, from mass demonstrations to armed struggle.

This reign of terror cannot stop the Palestinian struggle. On the contrary, it is creating the next generation of freedom fighters. At the same time, the Palestinian fight-back has torn the veil from the face of the Israeli government, and the vast majority of the world’s people now see it as an apartheid killing machine. The charge is genocide. Free all prisoners! Free Palestine!

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