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VIOLENCE by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank is committed with the full backing of the Israeli state, according to a damning report released today.
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem’s new report, entitled Settler Violence: Absence of Law Enforcement, says that vandalism is routine and provides documentation of incidents over a two-month period ending on July 7 to back up its claim.
During that period, there were “10 incidents in which settlers destroyed a total of more than 2,000 trees and grapevines and burned down a barley field and bales of hay,” B’Tselem said.
The group gathered information from Palestinian farmers who reported being victims of settler violence.
They explained how Israeli settlers often vandalise their homes, daubing them with graffiti with slogans in Hebrew including: “No to farmer terrorism” and: “There’s not place we won't reach.”
The report says the attacks in the occupied West Bank occur with the full backing of the Israeli authorities.
“Sometimes soldiers take part in the assault. At other times, they stand idly by. The police make no substantial effort to investigate the incidents, nor take measures to prevent them or stop them in real time,” it said.
Israel has attracted global condemnation for its illegal settlement-building programme, which is in breach of the Geneva convention clause banning population transfers in occupied territories or any changes to their demographic make-up.
Despite this, at least 500,000 Jewish Israelis live in settlements, with around 75 per cent of them in the West Bank.
B’Tselem argued that Israel benefits from the repercussions of settler violence as it gradually dispossesses more and more Palestinians of their property in the West Bank, paving the way for a state takeover of land and resources.
This is facilitated, the report suggests, by Palestinians avoiding areas where they may face violent attacks, which leads to farmland being abandoned and becoming infertile.
“This process has essentially erected invisible walls throughout the West Bank, which Palestinians know crossing will expose them to violence and even danger to their lives,” it said.
Israeli settlers demolished two Palestinian homes on the Hebron-Jerusalem road today in defiance of a court order allowing the owners to stay.
Ahmad Samara explained that he had been assaulted by settlers and soldiers who detained his daughter Asmaa before ransacking the property.
The house where the family had lived for more than 40 years was demolished at gunpoint.
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