Jerusalem24 – Following news of a shooting attack which killed a 32-year-old Israeli settler near Tulkarem yesterday afternoon, Israeli settlers operating under the protection of the military attacked Palestinian persons and property at over half a dozen locations across the occupied West Bank, beginning in the afternoon and continuing into the night.
The most brutal attack targeted the village of Jalud east of Salfit.
According to journalist Ameen As’ous, a mob of settlers fired live ammunition and sound bombs at the residents, causing fires to break out in several locations. Paramedic Bashar Qaryoti Lofa said ambulance crews had to evacuate three families from their homes when dozens of settlers set upon the houses.
The village’s mosques called on their loudspeakers for help from residents of nearby villages shortly after 11 PM. When the residents came to confront the settlers, the army fired rubber-coated metal bullets, injuring three Palestinians, as well as tear gas canisters, leaving dozens of residents including children necessitating treatment for tear gas inhalation.
Another seven Palestinians were injured by stones thrown by settlers, according to the paramedic.
The village of Jalud (and the nearby villages of Qaryot and Qusra) are surrounded on three sides by no less than 17 Israeli settlements as well as outposts (illegal even under Israeli law), and are subject to frequent attacks by settlers.
“Every time they come and attack us, they destroy, burn, break, and kill,” an elderly Jalud resident told Quds News Network this afternoon. “Our voice is not heard. We’ve never received any help, no aid whatsoever. I asked for an organization to send a private vehicle to take the children to school and back – nothing more – but it never happened. It’s all empty promises.”
“What can we do? We are in constant fear for our children and men, and it’s been like this for almost 20 years.”
Cars and houses vandalized across the West Bank
Settlers also attacked and harassed Palestinians at half a dozen other locations across the occupied West Bank throughout the evening.
In the village of Yabad south of Jenin, settlers attacked homes and vehicles with stones, and blocked off Yabad’s main roads while chanting slogans calling for the “death of Arabs”.
Settlers also attacked homes and vehicles with stones in Burqa north of Sebastia. On nearby roads leading to the illegal Israeli outpost of Homesh, settlers vandalized Palestinian vehicles earlier in the day, immediately following news of the shooting attack.
In Khirbet Al-Deir in the northern Jordan Valley, settlers vandalized property during the night and set fire to hay bales and fodder used to feed livestock, according to local official Moataz Bisharat.
Settlers also blocked the entrance to the city of Al-Bireh and threw stones at Palestinian vehicles, while a large group of settlers retreated without incident after gathering at the entrance to the town of Tuqu’ near Bethlehem earlier in the evening.
Although settler attacks are a daily occurrence, typically resulting in property damage, injury, or even death for Palestinians, this type of mob attack sanctioned by the army commonly follows an attack by a Palestinian in which an Israeli settler is killed, such as when hundreds of settlers descended on Huwara in February following a shooting attack in the town which killed two settlers.
During the protracted attack which was condemned by the international community, dozens of Palestinian homes were burned to the ground under the eye of the army, hundreds of vehicles destroyed or damaged, and 37-year-old aid worker Sameh Aqtash was killed by a bullet fired either by a settler or a soldier.In 2023, settlers have been further emboldened by the anti-Palestinian rhetoric of the most prominent members of Israel’s newly-elected government.
Less than a week ago, an entire Palestinian village was driven into exile after seven years of sustained attacks by Israeli settlers had become more and more violent.
Even the US Department of State has begun acknowledging in its annual “Country reports on terrorism” that settler attacks have “expanded in severity and scale”.
“Whereas in prior years groups of four to five settlers typically carried out sporadic attacks, the UN documented attacks by groups of 20 or more settlers during the year, indicating that attacks were likely preplanned,” its 2021 report reads. “Attacks were also more destructive and expanded into parts of the West Bank, such as Area A, that were previously not sullied by settler violence.”
The number of Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in incidents triggered by settlers has also risen significantly, with 2,081 injuries in 2022 – four times more than in 2021.