By Prerna Tyagi:
The tale goes back to the 1960s, when after the Six Day War, two Israeli Religious Nationalists Groups settled one small site each in Galilee and Efrat. At that time, the Israeli Government had no intention of settling in the seized Arab land and sheepishly described the settlements as military bases. Over the years, the population of the Israeli settlers has increased manifold and today there are nearly 300,000 settlers living in the West Bank, the largest illegally occupied Israeli territory in Palestine and the main site of the frequent and barbarous attacks by the Jew settlers on the Palestine nationals.
In mid-2008, a UN report recorded 222 acts of Israeli settlers’ violence against Palestinians and IDF troops compared to 291 in 2009, a trend which reportedly has only increased over the years. Recently, on Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and Hebron, the violent settlers’ protests and disputes over land and resources increased in West Bank and adjoining areas.
On September 11, 2011, a mob of about 100 armed Israeli settlers attacked a village called Al-Nabi Saleh. In the clashes, several villagers were injured including minors and women; also several journalists were beaten and harassed. The same year, at least three mosques, a university building, several cars and farmlands were vandalized in a series of attacks by the settlers. They damaged nearly 10,000 Palestinian trees, mainly olive trees, thus undermining the livelihood of hundreds of families. According to reports, repeated attacks entirely displaced a Palestinian community of 127 people. Some Israeli settlers are thought to lash out at Palestinians because they are “easy victims”. The Palestine government has identified over 30 Palestinian communities with a combined population of nearly 250,000 vulnerable to settler violence, including 76,000 at high risk.
Israeli Forces argue that they take all the adequate measures to prevent the clashes but in reality it is the Palestinians who are their targets and not the real culprits. The victimised accuse the Israeli military and the police personnel of deliberately failing to track down and prosecute those behind the attacks and that, on the contrary, the forces encourage them. Israeli Police summarily dismissed over 90% of the Palestinian complaints against the Israeli Settlers.
The issue has been addressed by several International Organizations and they all have condemned the attacks and have accused Israel of not taking the matter seriously. The International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel is in breach of International law by establishing settlement in occupied Palestine Territory. Amnesty International argues that the Israeli settlement policy is discriminatory and violation of Palestinian human rights. The organization also claims that the roads built by Israel in the West Bank that are closed to Palestinian vehicles are “discriminatory”. Human Rights Watch has gone a step further by filing reports on “Settler Violence” referring to the attacks by the Israeli settlers.
Acting under the International pressure, the Jewish Government has signed an agreement with the Jewish Settlers on 11 March 2012 to make leave the biggest illegal outpost in the Occupied West Bank. While UN deems all Jewish settlements in the region to be illegal, Israel backs 120 official settlements. Amid all these developments, it is still to be seen if Israel is actually committed to dismantle its settlements thus giving the Palestine people a peaceful and attacks-free life in their very own land.
Image courtesy:Â http://www.upi.com/News_Photos/News/Clashes-in-the-West-Bank-over-Palestinian-statehood/5694/4/