West Bank: Over 85 Jewish settler attacks recorded under one week

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  June 26, 2023

Israeli security officials warn ongoing violence against Palestinian villages in occupied land could lead to loss of control.

Jewish settlers have carried out more than 85 attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in the last week, prompting security officials to warn that the ongoing violence could lead to anarchy. 

Walla news outlet cited a security official on Monday who said the “nationalist crime” committed by settlers is approaching the moment of being “out of control”.

“There is a feeling of losing control in the field,” an army official told Walla.

Settlers have been rampaging through Palestinian villages near Ramallah and Nablus since Tuesday.

At least one Palestinian has been killed in the attacks and dozens of people wounded. The majority of the attacks were arson of crops, cars and houses. 

Israeli soldiers were seen either protecting settlers during the violence or participating in the attacks.

The attacks escalated further after two Palestinians shot and killed four Jewish settlers on Tuesday. 

According to Walla, 85 attacks have been recorded since Tuesday, including 25 occurring over the weekend.

The chief of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, and the army chief of staff, Herzi Halevi, agreed to send two infantry battalions, a special unit patrol and a military police force to the occupied West Bank as reinforcements.

“The police are not really dominating the area, and the army is not managing to take control of it,” a security source told Walla.

Though there are enough forces in the West Bank, according to Walla, the decision to send more battalions came after an assessment concluding that the situation could tip into a war.

“Usually there is [Israeli] nationalist crime for a day or two and no more than that,” army officials said. “When you set fire to a Palestinian house where an elderly woman with children is, it increases the chance that the 20-year-old will go out and carry out an attack.”

‘Nationalist terror’

US and European officials have been pressing Israel to rein in settlers, some of whose leaders sit as ministers in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

“We don’t remember such a period of condemnations from end to end, in private rooms and openly,” an official told Walla.

“It embarrasses the [Israeli army], embarrasses the Ministry of Defense, embarrasses the Israeli government. It is not clear what will happen in a moment and this makes the situation dangerous,” the official added. 

“The events reached places that had never [experienced them] before, such as Jericho and Ephraim [settlement]. Places where there were no incidents of violence.”

On Sunday, settler gangs burned crops in the Palestinian town of Turmusaya, north of Ramallah, only days after the village was subject to a rampage that left at least 30 houses and 70 vehicles on fire. 

On Saturday, dozens of settlers swept through several West Bank villages attacking Palestinian homes in scenes that have been described as an organised “pogrom”.

The heads of the police, army and Shin Bet released a statement on Saturday denouncing the attacks as “nationalist terror”.