Violent attacks on Palestinians by settlers on the rise in the West Bank

Wael Miqbel at the hospital after being attacked by Jewish settlers. (Photo: Mohammad Al-Kassim/Jordan News)
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Around 10 days ago, Wael Miqbel, awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of what he recalled as knocking on the back door of his house, in the village of Qaryout, in the occupied West Bank. اضافة اعلان
He assumed it was the Israeli army. 

Wael Miqbel at the hospital after being attacked by Jewish settlers. (Photo: Mohammad Al-Kassim/Jordan News)

“I heard voices and found the door glass was broken, I asked who was there, and someone dressed in army uniform told me to open, we are the army. I opened, and they sprayed gas on me and beat me up,” he said.

Circulated videos later showed that a group of about 20 settlers attacked Miqbel’s home at the outskirts of his village. 

Wael Miqbel at the hospital after being attacked by Jewish settlers. (Photo: Mohammad Al-Kassim/Jordan News)

He was beaten by iron bars, injuring his right eye, causing him to lose consciousness. His wife says he laid under the cold rain for about 10 minutes until the neighbors came to help. He has been in the hospital since.

Palestinians said the attack on Miqbel was revenge for the deadly shooting that resulted in the death of a Jewish settler Yehuda Dimentman and injured two others a day prior in the West Bank. The shooting occurred as the settlers were leaving an illegal outpost that Israel officially pulled out of in 2005, but is still used as a Jewish religious seminary school. 

After an intense manhunt, the Israeli army arrested four suspects in the deadly shooting attack. However, settlers conducted several reprisal attacks against Palestinians. 

Wael Miqbel at the hospital after being attacked by Jewish settlers. (Photo: Mohammad Al-Kassim/Jordan News)

Miqbel told Jordan News that the Palestinian police could not reach his village and that the Israeli army started an investigation file. However, he noted that “if we remain in this way, disregarding the citizen and … security protection for our villages, of course the settlers will be arrogant and do what they like. There is a security vacuum.”

His wife Samiha said she was still in disbelief over what had happened. 
“Until now, I can’t comprehend what happened. Fear, horror when I remember what happened, I feel like an earthquake hit me. I don’t feel safe,” she said.

With more than two-thirds of the West Bank under Israeli military control, Nablus Governor Ibrahim Ramadan complained that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is helpless. Ramadan told Jordan News that the PA is unable to protect its citizens. “I call on all Palestinians to be vigilant and to reconsider the miserable situation we are in,” he said.

The latest incidents highlight the increasing tensions between Palestinians and settlers across the Palestinian Territories, and many are warning of more to come.

Assaults on Palestinians have surged in recent weeks. The town of Burqa, northeast of Nablus in the West Bank, has seen nightly attacks by settlers.
According to the official Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, dozens of people have been injured during clashes that erupted with the Israeli forces, which stormed the town.

Palestinians claim the settlers’ attacks happen under the protection of the Israeli army.

Settlers also attacked the town of Sebastia, north Nablus, smashing several Palestinian-owned vehicles and vandalizing shops in the area.

Ramez Hasan from the village of Burqa told Jordan News that the settlers’ “audacity” would not have reached this level if the PA was “strong” and “competent.”

“The PA chose the path of the weak,” he explained, “they made sure the popular resistance is powerless. That’s how they envisioned ruling the people, make them helpless.”

“The paralysis that afflicted both the Palestinian political system and the resistance movement in the West Bank are to blame,” Ramez concluded. 

Esmat Mansour, a Ramallah-based political analyst, told Jordan News that the “formula for deterring settlers” is missing, and what is taking place in Burqa is proof that the Palestinians will not “standstill while the settlers continue their daily attacks on them.”

“What we are witnessing confirms that the determination of our people is greater than being controlled by the occupation,” he said.

Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas, who tracks settlement activity, told Jordan News that assaults on Palestinians by settlers in the West Bank are getting “out of hand.”

“We are facing a critical stage. These are preludes to massacres, as what happened in the year 48 (1948) by Arjun and Hagenah when they massacred Deir Yassin,” he said. 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that Israeli settlers carried out 427 attacks in the West Bank from January to November of this year.

Israeli foreign minister last week described settlers’ violence as a “Stain on Israel.” However, Palestinians say that attacks targeting them by settlers have become more aggressive in the last 15 years.

Bashar Qaryouti, an anti-settlement activist, told Jordan News that the newer generations of settlers are more organized and more violent in their attacks. “The gangs in this area have become organized and backed and supported by several Israeli sides. They launch their attacks on homes in an organized and pre-planned manner,” he said.

Qayrouti warned that these assaults have one motive in mind stating that: “All the Palestinian hills have become settlement outposts inhabited by price tag gangs. These gangs are trying in various ways to carry out major terrorist plans against Palestinian homes and lands to force their eviction.”

Qaryouti says village men tried to form protection units for years, but they were stopped adding that “currently there is no protection” as these units were targeted by Israeli intelligence.

Last Friday, a sixty-year-old Palestinian woman was killed when she was struck by a car driven by a settler on road 60 near Ramallah. 

There are more than 250 illegal settlements in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967, with a population of more than 500,000 Jewish settlers.

Read more Region & World