Mondoweiss / December 17, 2021
On Friday, a wave of settler violence spread across the occupied West Bank, severely injuring several Palestinians, in a series of “revenge” attacks following the killing of an Israeli settler.
A wave of settler violence spread across the occupied West Bank in the early hours of Friday morning, severely injuring several Palestinians and causing damage to their property, in a series of “revenge” attacks following the killing of an Israeli settler.
In the early hours of Friday morning, a group of Israeli settlers, allegedly dressed up as Israeli army soldiers, descended upon a Palestinian home in the village of Qaryut in the Nablus district of the northern West Bank and attacked its residents.
Wael Muqbil told local media that at around 3:00 am on Friday, his wife Samiha woke him up to say that there were people, who appeared to be Israeli soldiers, knocking on their front door. Muqbil said one of the settlers identified himself as the military and ordered him to open the door.
When Muqbil opened the door he said the settlers pepper sprayed him and started beating him and his wife, and vandalized their home. Photos and videos published to social media show broken glass and plates scattered across the family home, as well as a brutalized Muqbil, whose face was swollen and bloodied.
The couple were evacuated to the Rafidia hospital in Nablus where they were reported to be in stable condition.
The attack on the Muqbil family was one of a series of settler attacks across the West Bank over the course of Thursday night and early Friday morning, hours after an Israeli settler was killed in a shooting as he was leaving the illegal Homesh outpost.
The Homesh outpost, which, like hundreds of other settlements and outposts in the West Bank is illegal under international law, was evacuated in 2005. However, the outpost has remained standing and houses an active yeshiva, or religious seminary, where Yehuda Dimentman, the deceased settler studied.
Even after its evacuation, Homesh has been the site of several settler attacks against Palestinians from neighboring villages. Last August, a group of Israeli settlers kidnapped and tortured a Palestinian teenager as he and his friends were hanging out near the outpost.
According to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, Homesh has maintained a near constant presence of settlers in the area since its evacuation, “with security forces allowing them to stay there and attack Palestinians.”
B’Tselem noted that the attack on the teenager over the summer was the tenth settler attack on Palestinians near the settlement documented by the group since the beginning of 2020.
A night of settler attacks
Palestinian media reported several instances of Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians and their homes, setting fire to Palestinian property, blocking roads and attacking Palestinian vehicles with rocks on Friday morning.
Palestinian Authority-affiliated Wafa News Agency reported that Israeli settlers blocked a main highway connecting Nablus and Ramallah and attacked vehicles with Palestinian license plates with stones, causing damages to several cars.
In the town of Burqah, near the Homesh outpost, one Palestinian was reportedly injured with a tear gas canister in the head, following confrontations that broke out after a settler attack on the Palestinian village.
Wafa reported that “Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian residents after they attempted to fend off an attack against the village by Israeli settlers,” causing one youth to be injured in the head.
Other reports indicated that Israeli settlers set fire to a tin shed in the village, while Israeli media reported that Israeli forces arrested three Palestinians from the village as part of the manhunt for the alleged Palestinian shooters responsible for killing the settler on Thursday.
Settlers vow revenge
Hundreds of Israeli settlers and right wing politicians and leaders attended the funeral of Dimentman on Friday, where they vowed revenge for his death.
According to the Times of Israel, Rabbi Elishama Cohen, Dimentman’s teacher at the Homesh yeshiva called him “a soldier of the Torah,” and said that “Homesh will say loudly and clearly that this place is fully ours.”
Bezalel Smotrich, a member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, and leader of the right-wing Religious Zionism party, called for Homesh to be “strengthened” and further built, and that God “sent Yehuda to us to instruct us to return to Homesh, to build the Yeshiva, to strengthen Torah at Homesh.”
Dimentman’s brother also spoke at the funeral, reportedly saying God will “avenge his blood,” and that “the Arabs here are celebrating and happy to see how we are humiliated,” Times of Israeli reported, adding that “some calls for revenge were also heard by funeral-goers as Dimentman was eulogized.”
Haaretz quoted Knesset Nir Barakat of the Likud party as vowing an “iron fist against the Arab terrorists” and that “our goal is to bring two million Jews here. We will settle everywhere in the Land of Israel.”
2021 has seen a staggering rise in settler violence, with UN OCHA reporting at least 450 settler attacks against Palestinians and their property.
2021 has seen a staggering rise in settler violence, with UN OCHA reporting at least 450 settler attacks against Palestinians and their property as of December 6th. According to OCHA documentation, of those attacks, 118 of those incidents resulted in the death or injury of Palestinians.
The Times of Israel cited Israeli security officials as reporting a “drastic spike” in settler violence this year compared to 2020, with the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, reporting 397 attacks this year, compared to 272 in 2020.
According to B’Tselem, 2021 saw a rise in settler violence of 28.6 percent compared to last year.
Despite what Palestinians, Israeli security officials, and rights groups have marked as a clear rise in settler attacks on Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recently said otherwise, calling settler violence a “marginal” issue.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Bennet said “Settlers in Judea and Samaria have suffered violence and terror, daily, for decades,” referring to Israeli settlers in the West Bank. “They are the defensive bulwark for all of us, and we must strengthen and support them, in words and actions.”
“There are marginal elements in every community, and they should be dealt with using all means, but we must not generalize about an entire community,” Bennett, a former leader of the settler movement himself, said.
His comments came in response to statements from Israeli Security Minister Omer Barlev, a member of the Labor party, who reportedly discussed the increase in settler violence with US officials.
Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss