How a campaign of extremist violence is bringing the West Bank to the brink | ET REALITY

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He said that due to the military operations in Gaza and the shock that all Israelis felt at the atrocities committed by Hamas, Israeli soldiers were now, more than ever, failing in their duty to protect Palestinian civilians in the occupied areas.

“They are not stopping extremist settlers,” he said. “They’re closing their eyes.”

According to witness accounts, video footage and analysts who have examined broader patterns of violence, extremist settlers in the West Bank have been attacking Palestinian homes and businesses, blowing up their generators and solar panels, burning the tents of semi-nomadic Bedouin herders. …even shooting people.

United Nations officials say that since October 7, the Israel Defense Forces and armed settlers have killed more than 120 Palestinians in the West Bank. (Most of those deaths occurred in clashes with Israeli soldiers.)

Even before the Hamas attacks, Settler violence was reaching its highest levels. since the United Nations began tracking it in the mid-2000s. According to UN figures, there used to be one incident of settler violence a day. Now it’s seven.

On top of that, the number of protests by Palestinian youth, angered by the relentless bombing of Gaza, is also increasing. These protests frequently lead to deadly clashes with Israeli troops. Soldiers also carry out nighttime anti-terror raids, which Israelis say are necessary to root out armed groups. But raids, often carried out in narrow alleys and densely populated neighborhoods, can also lead to more bloodshed.

The West Bank, which has already been shaken by major uprisings in the past, feels ready to explode. And the concern, among the Palestinians and the Israeli security establishment, is what will happen if that happens. If violence comes from the West Bank, it could risk opening another front in the war, further increasing the chances of a larger and even more catastrophic regional conflict.

Palestinians and human rights activists blame the increasingly flammable atmosphere on Israel’s right-wing government, whose ministers have promised to expand settlements and deliver more weapons to settlers. Deadly Palestinian attacks on Israelis in the West Bank are also at their highest point since the 2000s, increasing tensions and the feeling that this entire territory is on edge. On Thursday, Israeli officials said Palestinians opened fire on a car, killing the Israeli driver.

Gaza and the West Bank are two separate areas that Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, effectively closing it and leaving its residents subject to a tight blockade that strangled its economy.

But Israel still occupies the West Bank under a highly controversial system that leaves Palestinians stateless, limits their movements and tries them in Israeli military courts – restrictions that do not apply to settlers. The Israeli army routinely blocks roads, chases Palestinians off the streets and strictly controls access from one area to another.

Further complicating the West Bank is the growing number of Israeli settlements (more than 130) that most of the world considers illegal because they were located on occupied lands.

These communities, often built on strategic hills and surrounded by walls and barbed wire, are sandwiched between a patchwork of Palestinian cities and towns administered by the Palestinian Authority, a semi-autonomous Palestinian body. About half a million Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, along with some 2.7 million Palestinians.

Many settlers reject the Palestinians’ claim to the land, arguing that Jews have been living in this territory since biblical times and that Israel justly won the territory decades ago in war.

According to Naomi Kahn, a settler who works for a nonprofit that supports settlements, Palestinians say that “everything in the Middle East is their land.”

“Try again,” he said. “I dont believe it”.

In recent days, threatening pamphlets, presumed to have come from extremist settlers, have slipped under the windshield wipers of Palestinian cars.

“A great catastrophe will soon fall on your heads,” said one flyer. “We will destroy all enemies and forcibly expel them from our Holy Land that God has written for us. Wherever you are, immediately carry your burdens and go back the way you came. “We’re coming for you.”

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