Palestinian woman killed as settlers continue attacks in West Bank

Ghadeer Fuqaha Masalmeh (Twitter)

Yumna Pattel

Mondoweiss  /  December 24, 2021

A Palestinian woman was killed on Friday after a Jewish settler rammed his car into her and fled the scene. After questioning, the settler was released by Israeli police.

Several Palestinians were injured and one woman was killed on Friday, as a wave of Jewish settler attacks on Palestinians and their homes has swept across the occupied West Bank. 

On Friday afternoon Palestinian media outlets reported that a Palestinian woman was killed after a Jewish settler allegedly rammed their car into her on a main highway outside the village of Sinjil, north of Ramallah. 

Wafa News identified the woman as 63-year-old Ghadeer Fuqaha Masalmeh from Sinjil. 

Sinjil’s mayor reportedly wrote on Facebook that Masalmeh and her husband were standing by the entrance of the town, which is located near a major throughway connecting Ramallah and Nablus, waiting for a taxi when an Israeli license-plate car rammed into her “before speeding away in a deliberate hit and run attack.”

According to The Times of Israel, the Israeli driver who hit Masalmeh fled to the nearby Shiloh settlement, where he allegedly reported the incident to Israeli police. Quoting police, the Times of Israel said the settler, “was briefly questioned by officers, and his vehicle was impounded pending further investigation.”

The settler was reportedly released, but was summoned for “further investigation.”

As for the reason he fled the scene, “the man told officers he feared to stop near the West Bank town following the incident,” the Times of Israel wrote. 

Masalmeh is the third Palestinian to be killed in the West Bank over the past week. Earlier this week, 22-year-old Hikmat Abdul Aziz Mousa was killed after Israeli forces shot at his vehicle, allegedly causing it to crash and catch on fire, killing Mousa. 

Hours later, Israeli forces shot and killed 26-year-old Mohammed Abbas as he was driving in the al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah. 

Settler attacks continue unabated 

Masalmeh is the latest victim of a wave of settler violence that has swept across the West Bank, following the killing of a Jewish settler last week outside the illegal Homesh outpost. 

Following the shooting of the settler, Israeli forces embarked on a widespread manhunt for the alleged perpetrators, eventually arresting at least three Palestinians from the town of Burqa, which is located near Homesh. 

Since then, Jewish settlers have perpetrated a series of revenge attacks on Burqa and the surrounding villages that have injured several Palestinians and caused damage to their property. 

Such attacks have continued across the West Bank over the course of the past week, and escalated on Thursday after thousands of settlers and right-wing leaders marched past Burqa and the surrounding towns on their way to Homesh, where the settlers called for revenge on Palestinians and the official reestablishment of the outpost, which was evacuated in 2005.

The march led to confrontations between Palestinians from Burqa and armed Israeli soldiers who escorted the settlers on their march. The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported that 42 Palestinians, including one journalist, were wounded after being hit with rubber-coated steel bullets, while another 83 suffered from suffocation after inhaling tear gas fired by the army. 

Hours later, in the middle of the night, Jewish settlers reportedly descended on Burqa, attacking several homes with rocks and attempting to break into homes on the outskirts of the village. 

“The escalation of settler terror against our people in the West Bank will be confronted with the escalation of acts of resistance, and the occupation army and its settlers will pay the price for these crimes,” Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said in a statement. 

“The continuation of comprehensive resistance in all its forms, especially armed ones, is the practical and real response to the crimes of the occupation and settlers,” the Hamas movement said in a separate statement. 

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.

According to B’Tselem, 2021 saw a rise in settler violence of 28.6 percent compared to last year. 

Despite a clear rise in settler attacks on Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recently said otherwise, calling settler violence a “marginal” issue.

Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss