OCHA warns of an increase in intimidation and violence by settlers in the West Bank.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA), incidents of violence by Israeli settlers have risen significantly since 2023, with an average of seven occurrences per day compared to three previously.
In the specified timeframe, OCHA documented 171 instances of settlers attacking Palestinians. These attacks led to 26 separate incidents of casualties, damage to 115 Palestinian properties, and approximately 30 reported cases of both property damage and casualties.
Cases of harassment, trespassing, and intimidation are not accounted for in the report, even though they contribute to the added strain on Palestinians to vacate their land, according to the Office.
More and more Israelis have relocated to land in the West Bank that has been occupied by Israel since 1967. This poses a threat to a potential resolution of the ongoing conflict, as it may hinder the establishment of two peaceful neighboring states.
Restrictions on entry, usually enforced by Israeli officials, have escalated in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These limitations are especially harsh in regions close to Israeli settlements and in the designated “Seam Zone,” which is separated from the rest of the Palestinian territory by Israel’s 712-kilometer-long barrier in the West Bank.
According to OCHA, settlers have enforced limitations on movement, hindering Palestinians’ ability to reach necessary resources and means of survival by blocking roads and damaging water sources relied upon by herding communities.
According to OCHA, the intensified restrictions have also halted humanitarian aid services such as healthcare and education.
Use of firearms
The Office also observed the utilization of guns to intimidate Palestinians, with over 33% of settler-related incidents since October 7th involving settlers brandishing firearms to intimidate Palestinians, which included firing shots.
On October 12, a total of 51 individuals from eight households in the Shihda WaHamlan herding community in Nablus, located in the northern West Bank, were forced to evacuate. This was due to threats made by settlers who brandished guns and warned of killing the residents and setting their tents ablaze overnight. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported this incident.
‘Active support’ of Israeli forces
The statement mentioned that Israeli security forces were involved in nearly half of the incidents, either accompanying or actively assisting the attackers.
The Office reported that several later occurrences resulted in clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians, resulting in three Palestinian fatalities and dozens of injuries. As of the end of October, the Office also noted that eight Palestinians were killed directly by settlers.
24 homes, 40 farm buildings, 67 vehicles, and over 400 trees and young trees were damaged or destroyed.