Jewish settlers kill Palestinian in latest West Bank rampage

Fayha Shalash

Middle East Eye  /  August 5, 2023

Two villagers also wounded in shooting as armed Jewish settlers torch cars and attack residents near Ramallah.

Jewish settlers shot and killed a Palestinian man during an attack on an occupied West Bank village late on Friday. 

The Palestinian health ministry identified him as 19-year-old Qusai Jamal Maatan. 

Two others were wounded in the assault on Burqa, near Ramallah, which coincided with settlers torching vehicles and attacking homes and residents. 

Ahmed Barakat, a resident of the village, told Middle East Eye the attack started in the early evening, with settlers arriving in the village from a nearby Jewish settlement outpost established several months ago on Palestinian land.

“The attack was from three directions, and the settlers were armed. They assaulted the residents, torched two vehicles, and fired at the young men who tried to confront them,” Barakat said. 

During the attack, the Palestinians threw stones to prevent the settlers from advancing further, but they were met with live fire, which wounded three young men, including Maatan. He later died in hospital. 

According to Barakat, the settlers brought their sheep to agricultural land that they were trying to seize in the village. After several hours, they advanced towards the residents and started attacking them.

“The Israeli army claims that it wasn’t present at the time of the attack, but it was protecting the settlers as always,” he said.

“The soldiers don’t leave the settlers alone inside the Palestinian villages and always protect them, even if they are armed.”

The Israeli military said it arrested two people over Maatan’s killing and said it was investigating the incident. 

UN experts and human rights groups have previously accused Israeli authorities of enabling settler violence and failing to prosecute Israeli offenders or protect Palestinians. 

Only three percent of investigations into settler violence led to a conviction between 1995-2022, according to Israeli NGO Yesh Din. 

Rising attacks 

Maatan’s death comes amid a record rise in deadly settler attacks against Palestinians. 

Since the start of the year, at least eight Palestinians have been killed during settler attacks, compared with five Palestinians killed by suspected settlers in 2022. 

While Jewish settler violence against Palestinians is common in the West Bank, Maatan’s death comes as the number of attacks has grown in recent years at an alarming rate, according to UN human rights experts.

UN figures show settler attacks have been on a year-to-year upward trend since 2016, with 228 attacks recorded in 2022 leading to casualties. 

Burqa, located east of Ramallah, is a frequent target of such attacks. 

Settlers often descend on the village from the nearby Givat Assaf outpost, which was established in 2002. 

The outpost is located at a hill between Burqa and another Palestinian village, Beitin. Palestinian say settlers want to expand the outpost to include land from both villages. 

Residents also suffer restrictions on movement that have been imposed on them by the Israeli army since the early 2000s. The main road leading to the village from Ramallah is closed, forcing Palestinians to travel hours instead of minutes when they do seek to move. 

The military also restricts farmers’ access to their land due to the presence of Jewish settlements in the area. 

Nearly 700,000 Jewish settlers live in more than 250 Jewish settlements and outposts across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law.

Fayha Shalash is a Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank


Two Palestinians killed as West Bank violence simmers

Raneen Sawafta

Reuters  /  August 4, 2023

TULKARM, West Bank – Two Palestinian youths were shot dead in the occupied West Bank on Friday in separate incidents, one by Jewish settlers who attacked a local village and one by Israeli soldiers in confrontations during a military raid, Palestinian sources said.

Residents of Burqa said Jewish settlers entered their village, threw rocks and set fire to cars.

“The youth of the village went out to confront them using stones. Settlers opened fire, they killed one person and wounded others,” said one witness who asked not to be named.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 19-year-old died in the incident. The Israeli military said it was looking into the report.

Washington has expressed concern over growing attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinian villages in the West Bank, where violence has worsened since last year with stepped-up Israeli raids amid Palestinian street attacks on Israelis.

Earlier on Friday, near the West Bank city of Tulkarm, the Israeli military said soldiers shot at suspects who fired weapons and hurled explosives and stones at its troops. It said hits were identified and reported no injuries to its forces.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said an 18-year-old was shot in the head and killed. Amjad Zeidan, who said he witnessed the incident from about 200 metres away said that he did not see the youth killed carrying weapons or explosives.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the killing as a “field execution” and called on the International Criminal Court to “break its silence and promptly complete its investigation into the crimes of the occupation”.

U.S.-brokered peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, collapsed in 2014 and show no sign of revival.

Israel captured those territories in the 1967 war. Its settlements in the West Bank, where Palestinian have limited self-rule, are considered by most countries as illegal, a view that Israel disputes.

Reporting by Raneen Sawafta, Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi; additional reporting and writing by Henriette Chacar and Maayan Lubell; editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Hugh Lawson and Andrew Heavens