Violence of settlers against Palestinians throughout the West Bank is a known issue and is often excessive, vandalizing, injuring, and sometimes lethal. One month ago, in a span of two days — the 27th and 28th of January — two young men were killed in settler attacks. One, 20-year old Oday Maher Hamza Qadous was shot dead by settlers while working on his fields in the village of Iraq Burin. The other, Yousef Fakhri Ikhlayl, a 17-year-old youth from Beit Ommar, was shot in the head by settlers and left brain-dead in Hebron hospital after around 100 settlers from Bat Ayn settlement descended upon the Palestinian villages of Saffa and nearby Beit Ommar.
This week, after the radical settler outpost ‘Havat Gilad’ was evicted on Monday, factions of the settler movement are calling for a ‘Day of Rage’ against Palestinian villages and people on Thursday.
The policy of ‘price-tagging’ is not a new tactic used by radical settlers. The phrase means revenging any act against them from the Israeli government by punishing Palestinians.
According to Ma’an news, Rabbi Meir Goldmintz, who teaches at a seminary on the outpost, pointed at nearby Palestinian villages and said:
“The government must understand that it doesn’t pay to destroy our homes and we are going to make them regret what happened here. We are going to pay them a visit on Thursday to do what the [Israeli] government should be doing to them and not to us.”
For the onlooker it is difficult to discriminate if the many settler attacks of the last few days have been ‘just the usual’ violence towards Palestinians, as these kind of attacks are a daily routine in many parts of the West Bank.
In the Nablus area there have been reports of cars being vandalized and molotov cocktails thrown against houses.
This week, following the Open al-Shuhada Street Demonstration, Hebron also witnessed an increase in settler harassment. On Sunday, shop-keepers near the Tel Rumeida settlement were attacked in their shop by a settler, while soldiers looked on and did not intervene. The following day settlers in the same area held a ‘prayer’ demonstration, blocking Palestinian access to the road, on behalf of the settler who they claim was attacked by the shopkeepers the previous day.
Whether or not the attacks in the last two days are connected to the ‘price-tagging’ policy of settlers against the eviction of a small illegal outpost, there should be concern for what a ‘Day of Rage’ will mean, when violence against Palestinians is already an every day issue.
We are calling on the International Community to take a stand for the rights of Palestinians to security of their lives, homes, land and work. Furthermore we are calling for for an immediate action to pressure Israel to stand full responsibility, as within International Law an occupying Power is responsible for the well being of the occupied population. This means ending the one sided protection of illegal and violent settlers in the Palestinian territories, and prosecuting at last those settlers who commit these criminal acts.