When Settlers Attack....Today (And Everyday) In The West Bank
19 August, 2010
I've spent the past few weeks trying to understand the phenomenon of settler violence in the West Bank. Where does it happen, how does it happen, who is most vulnerable and how can this most effectively be countered. It is easy to say that settler violence is a result of Israeli occupation and it's illegal settlements. That's because it is. But settler violence against Palestinian civilians is a daily event in the occupied West Bank and it deserves more acute attention.
Many Palestinians have had their lives affected by settler violence. More often than not, the victims are the most vulnerable in society. This is also something of a personal issue for me. Seven years ago I met Deyaa "Ali" Salawdeh, a teen-aged Palestinian boy from the Nablus area who was with two other friends when an Israeli settler opened fire on them. Deyaa suffered serious damage from the bullet that fractured into his digestive system and near his spine which left him unable to walk. He was brought to the United States by a charity for treatment. That is when I got a chance to meet him and become friends with him. Over time, and after a number of operations, Deyaa regained the energy to walk, though his life would never be the same. I'll never forget the way he use to look at others his age who would run or dance with the eyes of a man who has been robbed by injustice. After significant recovery, Deyaa returned to Palestine where he had begun to fulfill his great ambitions and graduated from a renowned high school. But the fractured settler's bullet, and the operations he went through because of it, finally caught up with Deyaa. He died of acute organ failure in Germany earlier this year before reaching the age of 23.
Unlike many who have fallen pray to the Israeli occupation, Deyaa and many others are not direct victims of the IDF. Many Palestinian civilians have been attacked by militant Israeli settlers and these attacks are on the rise. The Palestine Center initiated a research project to understand patterns of settler violence and we have coded over 1000 incidents of settler violence from January 2009 until today that will be part of an analysis presented here at the Center on September 15th. As with all our events, if you can not be here in person you can watch the event live on our site or catch up with the video and transcript later.
Settler violence is varied, sometimes we see personal attacks, sometimes we see attacks on property like the uprooting of trees or arson. But the truly under-reported aspect of settler violence is the frequency with which it takes place. We hear about every single one of the rockets that come out of Gaza but rarely do we hear about the regular occurrences of settler violence in the West Bank. Statistically speaking, attacks take place every day. Here's a report about settler violence from this week:
Israeli settlers assaulted a 10-year-old Palestinian girl on Sunday evening and an Israeli military jeep struck an 8-year-old boy in Hebron, witnesses said.
Inas Mazen Qaaqour was beaten by residents of the illegal Tel Rumeida settlement and treated at the Hebron Government Hospital where medics said she was bruised all over her body.
Sameh Natshe Jacob was taken to the same hospital, and medics described his condition as stable.
An Israeli military spokesman did not respond to several requests for comment.
And another from this week:
Israeli residents living on an illegal West Bank outpost uprooted over 200 olive trees near the Qusra village in the Nablus district Monday, a Palestinian Authority official said.
PA settlement affairs officer in the northern West Bank Ghassan Doughlas said residents of the nearby Svhut Rachel outpost ascended upon the village, uprooting the olive grove which belonged to Ali Abdul Hamid Mohammad Hassan.
Mohammad Ali Salah, 46, said he was with his 11-year-old son when he was accosted by a group of extremists, adding that he and his son were lightly wounded in the incident. He alleged that settlers who took over his home in Beit Safafa a few months ago had informed the group he would be in the Old City.
Salah said residents came to his rescue and that the settlers were protected by Israeli border guards deployed in the area.
It's only Wednesday....